Albany – New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette) today announced that the Senate and the Assembly have reached a Legislative agreement to provide $100 million in emergency funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
“With half of winter remaining and energy costs through the roof, paying the heating bill is still a very serious problem for thousands of senior citizens and low income New Yorkers,” Senator Nozzolio said. “Seniors living on fixed incomes should not be faced with decisions between staying warm or meeting life’s other necessities.”
2005 HEAP RECIPIENTS BY COUNTY:
COUNTY REC. TOTAL
CAYUGA 4,496 $1.45 million
MONROE 33,926 $10.2 million
ONTARIO 3,549 $1.04 million
SENECA 1,528 $490,530
TOMPKINS 2,976 $951,110
WAYNE 3,945 $1.26 million
The agreement adds a legislative commitment of $50 million to the $50 million increase proposed for the program by the executive. Under the $100 million Legislative agreement, the appropriation would prevent the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s anticipated shutdown of the program in March and would allow for additional HEAP benefits to seniors and other low-income New Yorkers. The appropriation could also be used to 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.
HEAP applications in New York State have risen by as much as 25 percent and with the number of estimated eligible households at more than two million, the number of applicants to the program are expected to increase even further. In addition, home heating oil prices in New York State are up by 21 percent over last year and 60 percent over two years ago. Natural gas prices have also shot up in similar fashion. At the same time, HEAP grants have remained flat.
Last year, the HEAP program had approximately 848,000 beneficiaries in New York State. 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 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.
Federal HEAP dollars also pay for administrative costs and fund the weatherization program that improves energy efficiency in eligible households. The size of the benefit varies by type of heating source, size of household, income and whether a young child or a disabled or elderly person is present.
“The Senate passed a comprehensive energy plan last fall that included proposals to ease the impact of skyrocketing home heating costs on senior citizens and called on the federal government to increase HEAP aid. “With this agreement, we are delivering an additional $100 million in assistance to the $263 million New York State has already received in federal funds this year,” Senator Nozzolio concluded.