2011-12 Home Energy Assistance Program

Mark Grisanti

October 20, 2011

The 2011-12 Home Energy Assistance Program season is fast approaching. Please review the following information:

  • The HEAP mail out of “Early Access” applications to Households with Senior Citizen, Disabled, or other vulnerable members, commenced on 8/29/11. The mail out process will take 2-3 weeks. Please advise clients/constituents you speak with to expect an application, and to mail it in as soon as possible. HEAP funding is limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis.
  • Attached are application instructions. We are receiving inquiries about need for submitting documentation. Please advise your clients/constituents:
    • The only documentation needed from those who receive the early access application is copies of earned income; last 4 weeks proof of wages (pay stubs).
    • Returning applicants ARE NOT required to submit proof of Social Security, SSD, workers comp, unemployment, utility bills, or proof of residency.
    • New applicants, who may apply when season officially opens, ARE required to submit documents supporting those items.
  • Clients who are receiving Temporary Assistance (TA) or Food Stamps (FS), as of the end of August, should receive an eligibility notice from HEAP in Nov. or Dec. and a HEAP benefit on their heating bill in Dec. or Jan. These TA or FS households do not need to apply by mail or in person for Regular HEAP assistance. These Households will not receive an early access application.
  • The HEAP application request line will begin accepting requests on 10/17/11 for households who believe they should have received an early access application but did not, and for those new to the HEAP program. However, we can not process applications from new applicants until official program opening date.


The season will officially open for mail, walk in and phone applications from new applicants on 11/16/11.

The Home Energy Assistance Program is federally funded and designed to assist eligible households with home heating costs and energy conservation. HEAP program components included benefit assistance for energy bills, furnace repair or replacement, weatherization referral & energy conservation repairs, and cooling assistance (based on medical necessity; in summer months). We are looking forward to another productive season. Last season, Erie County HEAP processed over 200,000 benefit payments.

Reduced Federal funding for the HEAP program has resulted in several changes for the 2011-2012 season.  As the local agency administering the HEAP program, Erie County must comply with all the anticipated changes, including eligibility requirements, benefit issuance structure, and benefit amounts.  Among the significant changes consequential to the decreased Federal funding are:

  • 2011-12 Season operates from 11/16/11-3/16/12, approximately ten weeks shorter than 2010-11.  Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement will also operate under a shorter season.
  • Only one regular and one emergency benefit are currently scheduled.  Emergency benefits will not be available until 1/3/12.
  • Secondary heating source utility benefits (ex. Electricity to run gas furnace) will not be made available until the emergency benefit date of 1/3/12.
  • Income guidelines have increased slightly.
  • Benefit amounts have decreased substantially.


The above changes are reflective of current Federal allocations and can not be expected to change without additional Federal Funding.

A series of HEAP orientation meetings will be held in early November, you will receive an invitation via email. Hopefully, you or a representative from your office can attend.

We will continue to provide your office with program updates and information as we get closer to official opening Nov. 16.

Community Access sites across the County will commence in January.

Please contact HEAP administration if you have any questions or concerns.

Craig Provenzo, Program Director: 858-8084 or at Craig.Provenzo@erie.gov

Christine Graef, Assistant Director: 858-2630 or at Christine.Graef@erie.gov

Emergency HEAP:

The mail in application is for Regular HEAP benefits only, for household’s main source of heat.  We will begin notifying companies of approvals from early access application on 11/16. The approval will create a 30 day hold from termination of service. Households that have a shut off notice on their main source of heat prior to 11/16, will need to make arrangements with the company or seek other assistance.

Households needing assistance with a heat-related electric bill, because they have a shut off notice, may apply for that assistance when Emergency HEAP opens on January 3, 2012.

Clients are encouraged to call the HEAP Hotline or visit http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/ for program information and advice.

HEAP Hotline: 858-7644  

2011-12 HEAP Income Eligibility Guidelines (DRAFT):

HH size           Gross Monthly Income limit at or below:

1                      $2146

2                      $2806

3                      $3466

4                      $4127

5                      $4787

6                      $5447

7                      $5571

8                      $5695

9                      $5818

10                    $5942

For more information, call the Erie County Department of Social Services at 858-7511.