First day applications will be accepted starting Nov. 16; residents encouraged to apply online
Erie County's Department of Social Services will begin accepting applications for Home Energy Assistance Program regular benefits next week, with county officials anticipating receiving more than 20,000 HEAP applications by the end of December.
"HEAP is a critical program that assists low-income residents with the cost of heating their homes," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "As temperatures drop and energy expenses rise, this program reduces the number of people forced to choose between paying for heat over other essentials such as rent, prescription drugs and putting food on the table. I am proud Erie County can assist families and seniors access these federally funded benefits."
Applications will begin being accepted Monday, Nov. 16. In an effort to expedite the application process and to prevent residents from standing in long lines, HEAP applicants are encouraged to apply for benefits online rather than make a trip to the HEAP office in downtown Buffalo, or attend one of the upcoming HEAP outreach events that will be held for residents to sign up for this benefit.
Eligible households whose primary heat is electricity or natural gas can receive a $350 regular benefit. Households using a different heating source or that have heating costs included as part of their rent may receive a larger or smaller amount.
"With a heavy application day anticipated for next Monday's opening, we are encouraging residents to save themselves a trip downtown, avoid a long line and wait time, and apply for HEAP benefits online," Erie County Department of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger said. "Residents with their heat service currently on and without a shutoff notice are advised to apply online at www.mybenefits.ny.gov or by calling the HEAP application request line at 858-1969."
HEAP outreach events scheduled to assist clients with accesses HEAP benefits include:
Monday, Nov. 30: CAO Masten Resource Center, 1423 Fillmore Ave., Buffalo
Wednesday, Dec. 2: North West Buffalo Community Center, 155 Lawn Ave., Buffalo
Monday, Dec. 7: East Aurora Senior Center, 101 King St., East Aurora
Tuesday, Dec. 8: Evans Town Hall, 8787 Erie Road, Angola
Wednesday, Dec. 9: Tonawanda Senior Center, 35 Main St., Tonawanda
Monday, Dec. 14: Willie Cotton Center, 52 Gates Ave., Lackawanna
Wednesday, Dec. 16: George K. Arthur Community Center, 2056 Genesee St., Buffalo
Regular HEAP eligibility and benefits are based on income, household size, primary heating source and the presence of a vulnerable household member who is under age 6, 60 or older, or permanently disabled. An eligible household may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year. Households currently receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and/or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits may qualify for an automatic basic HEAP benefit and would not be required to file a separate application. Households may ascertain the status of an AutoPay by calling the HEAP hotline at 716-858-7644.
Last season, more than 100,000 HEAP benefits were authorized to Erie County households. In order to qualify for a regular HEAP benefit, the members of the household must be U.S. citizens or qualified aliens with gross monthly income at or below the amount per household size listed in the table below:
The heating equipment repair and replacement benefit component, available to help eligible low-income homeowners repair or replace furnaces, boilers and other direct heating equipment necessary to keep the home's primary heating source functional, opened on Nov. 9. HEAP emergency benefits for households whose main source of heat is natural gas or electricity can be applied for beginning Jan. 4, 2016.
For more information, visit the Erie County Department of Social Services at http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/.