0225_fea_heating_craig_0.mp3

It’s been a tough winter for 80-year-old Renaud Mirville of Mattapan.

On top of all the shoveling, Mirville is running low on heating oil, and he says he doesn’t have money to buy more. He’s trying to make his oil supply last by keeping the thermostat low.

"I put it at 60," he said. "Just a little bit. Sixty, you know, it’s very low, very very low."

This winter has been a hard one for a lot of us, but it’s even more so if you can’t afford to heat your home. And while there’s a federally funded program to help low-income people pay those winter heating bills, many have run through their allotted assistance — and we’re not done with cold weather yet.

Mirville came to Boston from Haiti in 1975, and says he used to work 75 hours a week. He says asking for help is hard.

"Because I don’t want to ask," he said. "To put me down. And ask. That’s a big problem. That’s terrible for me."

Mirville’s wife has Alzheimer’s disease, and he’s worried about keeping the house warm enough for her.

"Because of my wife, I don’t want her getting to suffer," he said. "And I try to save, as little I have, I try to save it."

To illustrate how he and his wife have been keeping warm, Mirville walks into the kitchen and turns on three burners on the gas stovetop.

"I just put it on, like that, and I put the back on,” he said.

He says he knows it’s dangerous, but without enough heating oil, he doesn’t see another option. He already got a free tank of oil earlier this winter from Action for Boston Community Development, or ABCD. But that’s not going to get him through this winter, and he isn’t eligible for more help. That’s because the federal funding ABCD relies on limits the amount they can give to each individual.

"It’s not adequate," said ABCD President John Drew. "It’s just not adequate. People are really hurting, they’re calling all the time looking for more help."

Drew says with this cold winter, more than 130,000 households in the state have already exhausted their benefits. He’s hoping the Obama administration will provide more funds.

"So we’re saying, ‘Well, Mr. President, you've got to step up to plate here, please,'" he said. "You guys have some money. You should be allocating it to the natural disaster called winter. The winter that doesn’t quit."

Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren are joining in that call. They’ve asked the Department of Health and Human Services to release an additional $34 million for heating assistance. Of that, $1 million would go to Massachusetts, says Markey.

“We just have to be sure that we don’t turn a cold shoulder to our neighbors who are suffering," Markey said. "And the best way of doing that is just to take the remaining money and put it out there right now.”

ABCD is also asking the state for an extra $20 million for heating assistance, but Senate President Stan Rosenberg says it may be tough.

"There’s very, very limited funds left for this fiscal year because we just ran into a very big deficit which we just closed last week — $756 million," Rosenberg said. "So first we’ll see what the governor proposes, second we’ll talk with the executive agencies to see if they have some money kicking around that could be applied to this."

In a statement, Baker’s press secretary said the governor will, "work with the legislature to ensure necessary fuel assistance resources are available to the most vulnerable."

Another source of assistance in recent years isn’t available this winter. Former congressman Joe Kennedy’s Citizen’s Energy has previously relied on donated oil from Venezuela, but political instability there has likely cut off that supply. Now, if you call that Joe-4-oil phone number, this is what you hear: "We are not currently taking applications for the heating oil program."

A spokesman for Citizens Energy said it can’t comment beyond what’s in that message.

There is some good news about Mirville. ABCD says they managed to find some emergency funding to buy him more oil. But the agency says there are thousands more like him around the state who they won’t be able to help unless someone comes up with additional money.

Watch the Greater Boston segment: