January 10th, 2024

Houston’s heating assistance delays cause heartache during the holidays

HALIFAX– As winter weather increases, numerous Nova Scotians are still looking for the help they applied for from the Houston government through the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP). The Public Accounts Committee will discuss this program at its meeting this morning.

“The lack of compassion and attention to these issues is heartbreaking,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “We already had concerns over the Houston government’s decision to cut back who was eligible for HARP and the reduction in the amount people will receive. Days before Christmas, we heard that people haven’t even received the money in the time they expected. These delays would have meant a lot of cold homes and heartache over the holiday season.”

Helen Wood is a senior in HRM who applied for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program when it opened in October. Reductions to the amount provided through HARP and delays in receiving that support have meant making tough decisions already this winter.

"When there are delays or the government changes how much support they provide it means deciding between turning the heat on or buying groceries,” said Wood. “It’s really difficult to not know if you’ll have enough to cover the cost to keep the oil tank full as the weather gets colder and colder.”

During the last two and a half years, Nova Scotians have seen massive increases in the cost of groceries, increasingly high energy costs, and the biggest rent increases in the country.