FALL RIVER, Mass. (1/3/08)--Fall River Municipal CU is helping its members pay their oil heating bills with a new loan program. The credit union is offering up to $1,000 in loan assistance for heating bills. The loan period is for 10 months at a rate of 5.5%. The program seeks to help members spread their heating bills into smaller payments (Standard-Times Jan. 2). Lisa Reid, consumer lending manager, told the Standard-Times a few members have taken out the loans. She expects the number of loans will increase. Though the program is scheduled to finish at the end of January, it could be extended if heating costs remain high, Reid said. Bruce Morell, executive director of People Acting in Community Endeavors, told the newspaper that Fall River’s program is a “godsend” for low-income residents. Many low-income residents can’t afford $800 monthly payments for oil, and have stopped paying rent or buying food and medicine, he said. Estimated winter heating costs for houses in the Northeast will be $1,879, a 25% increase from last year, the newspaper stated. Fall River Municipal CU has $24.7 million in assets.