Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that New York State is expanding its Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help additional households meet their home heating needs this winter due to an increase in federal aid. Standard HEAP benefits assist low-income New Yorkers in paying for the cost of heating their homes. HEAP also provides emergency benefits to New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat-related energy emergency and do not have the available resources to meet the emergency.
“Many families have been running low on heating fuel or have had to choose between putting food on their table, paying for necessary prescription medicines or keeping the temperature in their home above 60 degrees,” said Jacobs. “This funding will help keep seniors on fixed incomes and working families struggling to make ends meet warm, healthy and safe during the cold weather.”
Assistant Speaker Jacobs said a one-time federal authorization increased the income levels for emergency HEAP benefits from 60 percent of the state’s median household income to 75 percent, beginning January 1, 2009. Under the new emergency levels, a family of four with a household of as much as $56,635 would qualify for an emergency HEAP benefit if the resources the household has available to meet the emergency are less than the amount of the HEAP emergency benefit.
New York State has received $559.9 million in federal HEAP funding – helping to provide emergency benefit payments to many households that were not previously eligible and offer an additional $100 HEAP benefit to current recipients, according to Jacobs. The benefit will automatically be issued to current HEAP recipients that pay directly for heat, increasing the maximum regular HEAP benefit from $800 to $900.
“Severe weather and an uncertain economy pose additional risks to the poor and elderly, and we must continue to do everything we can help them through these difficult times,” Jacobs said. “Expanding emergency HEAP is a first step in providing additional protection for those who are most vulnerable.”
For information about HEAP, including how to apply, please call the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3009 or visit the OTDA website at www.otda.state.ny.us/main/heap/. To find out if you are potentially eligible for HEAP assistance, visit www.mybenefits.ny.gov.