With electric and natural gas bills projected to increase by a rough average of twenty one percent this winter seasons, according to the New York Public Service Commission, New Yorkers are bracing themselves for a long, cold winter.
In an effort to raise awareness about assistance programs available across the state, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently launched a digital media campaign intended to help those New Yorkers in need pay heating and utility bills and avoid potential shut offs throughout the frigid winter weather months ahead.
"Rising heating and utility costs in the winter months can be enough to break the bank for many New Yorkers already struggling to make ends meet," Hochul said of the campaign. "This new campaign will highlight the multitude of programs and resources available to those in need—from direct financial assistance to free weatherization workshops offered to low-income homeowners and renters. Connecting people to these programs is critical to ensuring that people can heat their homes in the freezing months ahead."
The most common form of assistance available to eligible renters and homeowners in New York state is the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which is directed by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). HEAP applications are currently being accepted via the online application, telephone, or at any local department of social services in New York state.
"Every New Yorker should know about HEAP,” remarked Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, chairwoman of the New York State Senate Social Services Committee. “It is no secret that the number of energy burdened New York households eligible for assistance far exceed the number of applications for heating or cooling assistance, weatherization and repairs under the HEAP program."
Thus far in the 2021-2022 heating season, eligible households have procured an estimated $158.6 million through HEAP, while the OTDA is additionally taking applications for heating equipment repair and replacement, which can in turn provide three to six thousand dollars for necessary fixes to an eligible household’s primary heat source.
"For far too many New Yorkers, the cost of home heating poses a significant burden on their household budget, even before factoring in the anticipated increase in these expenses this winter,” State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn noted. “These programs are aimed at alleviating some of that burden and helping low-income households throughout our state make ends meet during the cold weather months."
In addition to the benefits currently being offered, beginning on January 3, 2022, HEAP also plans to provide one-time emergency benefits to households facing a heating emergency.