PEABODY — The deadline for eligible households to apply for fuel assistance has been extended to May 28, North Shore Community Action Programs Inc. has announced.

The extension is designed to help people who are struggling due to loss of employment or other factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year eligible households can receive up to $1,200 to apply toward winter heating bills. The benefit may pay for deliveries up until April 30 or help clients with outstanding heating bills so they can avoid termination by private utilities, according to NSCAP, a Peabody-based agency.

The state has imposed a moratorium to prevent terminations during the winter months, but that is scheduled to expire on July 1. Nationwide, as much as $27 billion is owed to utilities such as National Grid as a result of the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to NSCAP.

Each year, the fuel assistance program administered by NSCAP helps more than 6,000 people throughout Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Middleton and Topsfield. In addition to payments for winter heating bills, eligible clients may receive National Grid's low-income rate for electricity and gas.

Interested clients are encouraged to call 978-531-0767, ext. 136, to schedule an intake appointment. More information about fuel assistance is available at nscap.org.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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