Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced today that the Assembly passed legislation (A.9281) expanding the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help offset high energy costs that have directly affected Broome County families and seniors. Broome County could see an additional $3.7 million in emergency aid.
“Unfortunately, the recent energy and fuel crisis has forced many Broome County families to sacrifice basic needs in order to heat their homes,” Lupardo said. “People struggling to pay bills often turn to less expensive, but riskier options like space heaters and open flames, which are more likely to cause house fires. The Heap funding will help families better afford safer heat sources.”
Under the bill, the state will now contribute $200 million to the current program. This money will be distributed to counties throughout New York State to increase the availability and amount of the HEAP grants.
HEAP is currently funded solely by federal funds. Federal funding to New York for the HEAP program – which helps low income seniors and families pay for heating costs – has already gone down by $15 million. In Broome County, over 3,000 families have already received funding this year to heat their homes safely. Nearly half of the aid available has been allocated and even more applications are anticipated.
People heating their homes with oil saw prices per gallon rise 21 percent over the last year and 60 percent over two years. Natural gas prices are up a similar amount. However, while grant amounts have remained flat, HEAP applications are up by 10 to 25 percent this year, and considering that the numbers of eligible households are increasing.
“I urge the Senate to act on this legislation prior to the governor’s budget submission to provide this much needed relief before it is too late,” Lupardo said.
The Assembly also passed a resolution (K.1211) urging Congress to step up and increase the amount of federal aid to HEAP in New York.
To receive an application or find out if you are eligible for HEAP benefits, contact the Broome County Department of Social Services at 778-2638 or call the HEAP hotline at 1-800-342-3009.