Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $15 million in additional funding is available to help eligible New Yorkers heat their homes following a spate of severe weather over the past month. Starting Tuesday, February 19, households in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off may apply for a second emergency benefit through the Home Energy Assistance Program. In addition, Governor Cuomo announced the extension of the application period for both regular and emergency HEAP benefits until April 26.
"Families should not have to choose between heating their homes and paying for other essentials like food or medications," Governor Cuomo said. "With much of the state remaining in winter's icy grasp, the availability of this extra funding will help our most vulnerable New Yorkers stay warm and safe through the duration of the season. I encourage anyone who may need help paying their heating bills this winter to apply for assistance."
"This winter has been especially difficult, that's why we are taking action to ensure more funding is available through the Home Energy Assistance Program," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Winter heating bills can add up quickly and put a strain on family budgets. HEAP is an essential resource that helps so many New Yorkers across our state make ends meet."
Households are ordinarily only eligible to receive one regular HEAP benefit each winter, and then one emergency HEAP benefit in the event of an energy crisis. Beginning Tuesday, households that have already received a regular and emergency benefit during this HEAP season will be able to apply for additional assistance if they are faced with the possibility of having a utility shut off or running out of heating fuel without the means to replenish it.
New York State's persistently cold temperatures and snowfall in recent weeks have been comparable to last winter - one of the coldest on record. The statewide demand for emergency HEAP benefits remains high, with more than 35,000 households seeking assistance so far this year.
Though temperatures remained seasonally mild to start the winter, a polar vortex plunged New York into a deep freeze in January, where temperatures in many areas of the state dipped below zero. Additionally, several winter storm systems brought significant accumulations of snow throughout the state, including a lake-effect band that set a daily snowfall record in Buffalo late last month.
The amount a household receives from HEAP depends on their income, household size and how the home is heated. A family of four can have a household income of up to $55,178 per year, or $4,598 per month, and still qualify for help. A household that heats with oil could receive more than $2,200 in total assistance this winter.
Overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, HEAP is 100 percent federally funded. Applications for emergency HEAP are accepted at local departments of social services in person or by telephone. A list of offices by county can be found here.
New York State also provides other types of home energy support for low income families that can help them save energy, improve their home, and save money. EmPower New York, through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, provides no-cost energy efficiency solutions to nearly 135,000 income-eligible New Yorkers who either own or rent homes. More information is available here.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Mike Hein said, "New York families facing an energy crisis should not have to choose between paying for heat or other essentials like medication or food during periods of extreme cold and snow. I applaud Governor Cuomo for providing this crucial assistance to households who are at serious risk this winter and for extending the application period for all New Yorkers."
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, "These additional HEAP resources are extremely important to low-income older New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their heating bills during this cold winter. Having additional funds for heating emergencies and extending the application period will help many more older adults and families stay warm this winter. Governor Cuomo consistently delivers for families and the announcement of these resources will limit the risk of utility shut off, running out of fuel or risky behaviors such as heating with stoves or simply going without."
Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "New Yorkers across the state know all too well the energy burden extreme weather events can place on their homes, making clear the growing need to help our most underserved families deal with impacts of climate change. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York offers a comprehensive set of programs, such as HEAP and EmPower New York, to help low-income residents save energy and make weatherization and energy efficient improvements to their home."