Assemblyman Colton: Help for HEAP $$$ for Heating Bill Assistance

February 1, 2006

Assemblyman William Colton (47 AD) announces that the Assembly and Senate have agreed to expand the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help offset the high-energy costs that are endangering the well being of the elderly and families of modest means.

Assemblyman Colton's staff for the past six years has been helping hundreds of constituents get HEAP grants and his staff at his 211 Kings Highway Community Office is prepared to help Seniors and Low Income Families obtain additional State funded HEAP grants to offset the unprecedented fuel costs that have made it difficult for small homeowners and seniors pay their record breaking heating bills.

The Assembly's leadership in this agreement with the Senate to increase funding is in direct response to the public's demand for more home heating assistance. Assemblyman Colton, although disappointed that the bill he sponsored (A.9281) which requested $200 hundred million dollars for HEAP wasn't passed, was gratified that at least the Senate and Assembly did pass a bipartisan bill that contributed $100 million to the HEAP program; that was $50 million dollars more than the Governor had proposed. The $100 million will be distributed to counties throughout New York State to increase the availability and amount of HEAP grants.

The Governor has signed the bill and funds are now available on a first-come first-serve basis. Income eligibility requirements are based on family size. For a HEAP grant, a single person's maximum income is $1803 per month, $2358 for a household for two per month. A family of four's maximum income is $3468 per month. The application must include an unpaid gas, oil or electric bill. A HEAP grant is a one-time grant. Homeowners or tenants are eligible for Heap grants if they meet the minimum income requirements. The grants are on a sliding scale and range from $40 to $400.

The timing of the bill is critical, as Federal funding to New York for the HEAP program has been reduced by $25 million in recent years. While the grant rates have remained flat, the number of HEAP recipients that filed applications has increased 240 percent. Considering that the number of eligible households is increasing, even more applicants are anticipated. Families heating their home with oil saw prices per gallon rise 21% over the last year and 60% over the past two years-natural gas prices rose up in similar amounts. The recent energy and fuel crisis have forced many New Yorkers to sacrifice basic needs in order to heat their homes.

"It is unconscionable that this mighty nation forces our seniors to choose between medicine, food or fuel. What a choice we are giving them...either starve or freeze to death or die because they don't have money for their medicine. I think something is very wrong here! These new State funds are a God send opportunity to get some of their heating bills paid, I urge everyone that is eligible to come to my community office and apply immediately!" said the Bensonhurst/Gravesend Legislator.

For more information, contact Jeanette Givant, Stephanie Wong or Svetlana Perelmuter at Assemblyman Colton's Community Office, 211 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 11223 or call (718) 236-1598.