Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District), a member of the Senate Aging Committee, announced an agreement to provide an additional $100 million in emergency state funding for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The state funding will supplement the federally funded 2005-2006 HEAP program to ensure that eligible seniors and low-income New Yorkers are able to afford to heat their homes throughout the remainder of this winter.
Senator Flanagan announced that this amount represents an additional $50 million in emergency aid added by the legislature. The additional funding will allow the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to continue to provide additional HEAP benefits through April 14, 2006. Due to a cut in federal funding, the HEAP program was slated to cease operation in March.
The funding will provide a supplemental emergency benefit for those HEAP eligible households that have exhausted available federal benefits for the 2005-2006 HEAP season and who are still in a crisis/emergency situation.
According to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, eligible households that pay directly for heat receive a HEAP benefit amount ranging from $150 to $400 and eligible households that do not pay directly for heat receive a standard statewide benefit of $40 or $50, depending on household income level. HEAP eligibility in New York is based on household size and income. For example, gross monthly income for a household of two must be at or below $2,358 and for a household of four must be at or below $3,468.
With the number of eligible households estimated at more than two million and HEAP applications rising by as much as 25 percent this winter, the number of applicants is expected to rise above the 848,000 who benefited from the program last year. With home heating cost up by 21 percent in the last year and 60 percent in the last two years, federal HEAP grants have remained constant.
The appropriation will also ensure that the program has adequate funds for additional emergency grants, which prevent senior and low-income households from having their electricity or gas shut off due to an inability to pay.
Residents who have a power or gas shutoff or have less than a seven day supply of heating fuel or who would like to apply for HEAP should contact the Suffolk County Department of Social Services at 631-854-9700. The office is located at 3085 Veterans Memorial Highway in Ronkonkoma.
"The rising cost of heating a home should not force anyone to consider being cold an option. This additional funding will help our senior community afford their energy needs without sacrificing another necessity," stated Senator Flanagan. "With oil companies recording record profits and oil from overseas at record highs, this funding is necessary to help homeowners get through the winter safe and warm."
Please click here for additional information about the HEAP program or for information about energy saving programs throughout the state, such as the New York State Energy Smart program.
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