Millions of low-income Americans could face delays in receiving help paying their heating bills and monthly rent if the federal government shutdown lingers several more weeks.

    That's according to local agencies and state officials who administer the programs.

    The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and a voucher program that allows poor families, seniors and the disabled to live in private rental units could be impacted starting next month.

    In states like Massachusetts, heating assistance benefits typically begin to go out Nov. 1, but many of the 20 nonprofit agencies that administer the program have not even started accepting applications due to the shutdown.

    The heating program provided assistance to nearly 9 million income eligible people in cold weather states last year.
(Associated Press)