Proposed Budget Cuts Would Eliminate Berkshire Community Action Council
If current budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration pass, it would be not only devastating, but in fact eliminate two programs vital to Berkshire County.
The Berkshire Eagle reports the Berkshire Community Action Council and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program would have their funding completely cut, eliminating both programs which combined serve over 12,000 homes, or ONE THIRD of families in Berkshire County according to BCAC officials. Deborah Leonczyk, Executive Director of BCAC said less than five percent of the programs funding comes from sources other than federal funding, so without it they don't have an agency. LIHEAP funding helps families and seniors with limited incomes keep the heat on through at least part of the winter. This year alone, LIHEAP aid is estimated to be about $5.6 million in Berkshire County.
"We know that without that heating aid, people will try to stay warm any way they can — space heaters, stoves — which will result in more structure fires... or they will forgo food or medications to pay the heating bill. What kind of a choice is that?"
Deborah Leonczyk, BCAC Executive Director
Both Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Richard Neal are both working against the current administrations drive to end funding for these programs.
"By gutting critical programs like LIHEAP, President Trump is throwing Massachusetts families out in the cold."
Senator Elizabeth Warren
In addition to LIHEAP funding regarding fuel assistance, Berkshire Community Action Council also operates a food distribution center that ships to 14 different food pantries throughout the county. Without this funding, those food pantries, which help hundreds of families who face food insecurity, would close. BCAC also administers low-cost micro loans, organizes the Holiday Elf warm clothing drive during the holidays, which acquires and distributes winter clothing to thousands of children in families of limited means, and facilitates a mentoring program for hundred of local youth. All of those programs will dissolve without federal funding if the budget cuts are approved.
"You're now starting to understand what that tax cut really means"
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal