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HEAP Offers Assistance to Those Who Need It Most this Winter

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded program that issues heating benefits to supplement a household’s energy cost.

New York is notorious for harsh winter weather, making cold weather preparation and protection essential to surviving these months.

Many working families and seniors have trouble paying their heating bills, especially in this tough economy. To help those vulnerable households meet their home-heating needs in a safer, more affordable manner this winter, I strongly encourage eligible residents on the East End to sign up for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). HEAP is a federally funded program that issues heating benefits to supplement a household’s energy cost.

The HEAP program has a number of different benefits available. The regular benefit component assists lower-income New Yorkers with the cost of heating their homes or apartments. Regular HEAP benefits are based on income, the primary heating source and the presence of a household member who is under age 6, age 60 or older or permanently disabled.

An eligible household may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year. Regular benefits for households that pay directly for heat based on actual usage are paid to the vendor of the household’s primary source of heat.

You may be eligible for a regular benefit if you and your household members are United States citizens or qualified aliens, your household’s gross monthly income is at or below the current income guidelines for your household size, you receive food stamps, you receive temporary assistance, or you receive Code A Supplemental Security Income (SSI living alone).

In addition to regular benefits, HEAP also provides emergency benefits to New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat-related energy emergency and do not have the resources available to fix the crisis. Emergency HEAP benefits are based on income, available resources, the number of household members and the primary fuel type. You may be eligible for the emergency benefits if your electricity is necessary for your heating system or thermostat to work and is shut off or scheduled to be shut off, your natural gas heat is off or scheduled to be shut off, you are in danger of running out of fuel, or your essential home-heating equipment is inoperable.

HEAP benefits also include the heating equipment repair or replacement component, which helps low-income homeowners repair or replace furnaces, boilers and other direct-heating elements required to keep the home’s primary heating source in working order. Benefit amounts are based on the actual cost incurred for repair or replacement of the appliance, up to $6,000.

A warm home is critical during the long, cold winter months. That’s why household heating cost increases have created a serious issue for many East End residents, and HEAP assistance provides added protection for those who need it most. I am committed to supporting HEAP and ensuring that seniors on fixed incomes and working families struggling to make ends meet do not have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table.

For further information about HEAP, please call the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDA) toll-free number at 800-342-3009, or visit the OTDA website at www.otda.ny.gov/programs/heap. To find out if you are eligible for HEAP assistance, visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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