As winter deepens, icycles lenghten, and unrelenting cold kicks in. The HEAP program can help families stay warm. KITTY MERRILL
Last winter, almost 67,000 families on Long Island got help — and got warm — through the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program, known as HEAP. In total that year, almost 1.5 million households in New York were able to take advantage of the program.
Eligible low-income families may receive heating assistance, emergency aid, and help with fixing heating systems. There’s a sign-up period that’s underway now and will continue until the funding runs out for the season, generally in March. Federal funding last year topped $327 million and, following a spate of harsh weather, last February Governor Andrew Cuomo added another $19 million to the pot, extended the application period and offered a second emergency benefit for families in danger of having their utilities shut down or running out of fuel.
Older New Yorkers and low- and moderate-income New Yorkers are eligible for help — assistance of up to $726, depending on income, household size, and how the house or apartment is heated. A household income of up to $55,178 a year, or $4,598 a month for a family of four, can qualify.
HEAP is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Individuals may apply through their local department of social services. Anyone living outside of New York City can apply for a regular HEAP benefit online at mybenefits.ny.gov. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beyond assistance with defraying the cost of home heating, eligible households may also qualify for one-time emergency assistance if they are in danger of having utilities shut off or running out of fuel. Anyone in need of emergency assistance should contact their local department of social services.
Every year as the application period opens November 19, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. disseminates information about the HEAP program. He said this year: “As energy costs rise, heating can become a burden for families with low or fixed incomes. For those facing extreme temperatures, that could mean dire consequences. HEAP is a necessary resource for low-income families and senior citizens who rely on the assistance to keep them warm during these cold winter months. In the Assembly, I’ll continue fighting to make life more affordable for New Yorkers so that no one is forced to go without life’s necessities.”
To learn more or to apply for HEAP, visit mybenefits.ny.gov or contact the Suffolk County Social Services Department at 631-854-9930. Or call the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Hotline at 1-800-342-3009. Southampton Town residents needing help navigating the system may call community advocate Julie Hopson at 631-702-2418.
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