For the past three winters, CITGO Petrolium, a Houston-based oil company and a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., has provided several Bronx landlords with low cost heating oil on the condition they pass the savings onto tenants. The program was expected to continue in 2009, but a press release sent out yesterday announced its suspension.
In the statement Joseph Kennedy, president of Citizen Energy Corporation, an organization that helped administer the program, said:
Citizen Energy has recently been informed by CITGO that due to falling oil prices and the world economic crisis, CITGO has been forced to re-evaluate all the their social programs, including the heating oil program, which has provided hundreds of thousands of low-income U.S. households with much-needed fuel these past three years. As a result, the heating oil program has been suspended until further notice. It remains unclear how long this postponement, if it is one, will last.Mount Hope Housing Company, a non-profit that owns and manages 31 buildings in the west Bronx, is one of the affected landlords. "It's a big hit," said Pamela Babb, vice-president of development and communications. She said the program also helped fund a number of Mount Hope's youth programs.