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New York state: $15 million in emergency heating assistance for struggling households

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Wed, Mar 10th 2021 03:40 pm

Second round of emergency assistance available to help New Yorkers heat their homes

Eligible households can receive up to $2,371 to pay heating costs, overdue utility bills

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced an additional $15 million is available to help eligible New Yorkers facing a home heating emergency. Households that have already received emergency assistance from the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) this winter can apply for a second round of benefits if they are in danger of running out of fuel or having their service disconnected when the statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs expires at the end of March.

“Even with the spring season nearing, many parts of New York will continue to experience frigid temperatures for weeks to come,” said Mike Hein, commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers HEAP. "This additional funding will help ensure struggling New Yorkers, including the most vulnerable among us, can continue to heat their homes until the cold weather breaks.”

Additionally, the deadline to apply for both the regular and emergency HEAP benefits was extended until April 30. With the initial round of HEAP benefits, both rounds of emergency assistance, households can receive up to $2,371 in assistance.

Applications for emergency HEAP are accepted at local departments of social services in person or by telephone. A list of offices by county can be found here.

Households are ordinarily only eligible to receive one regular HEAP benefit each winter and then one emergency HEAP benefit in the event of an energy crisis. Now, households that have already received a regular and emergency benefit can apply for additional assistance if they are faced with the possibility of having a utility shut off or running out of heating fuel without the available resources to replenish it.

Statewide demand for HEAP remains high. This winter, more than 1.3 million households secured regular HEAP benefits, with an additional 30,000 households receiving the first emergency benefit to address a home crisis or life-threatening heating emergency.

The amount a household receives from HEAP depends on their income, household size and how the home is heated. A family of four can have a household income of up to $60,226 per year, or $5,019 per month, and still qualify for help.

New York State Public Service Law provides temporary protections for essential utility and municipal services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through March 31, utility companies and municipalities may not shut off service for nonpayment and must offer a deferred payment agreement to cover any overdue balance.

HEAP Benefits Extended; Second Emergency HEAP Grant Announced

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) has been extended with Regular and Emergency benefits continuing to be available through April 30. A second emergency HEAP benefit is also now available to eligible households who have exhausted both of these grants.

HEAP is a federally funded program that assists eligible customers in paying for their home energy needs. The maximum regular HEAP grant for customers who use natural gas to heat their homes is $416. A family of four earning $60,226 or less may qualify for assistance. Grant amounts vary and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis only while HEAP funding remains available. HEAP eligibility is based on the last four weeks of income.

For more information, visit www.HEAPhelps.com or contact 1-877-443-2743. One can also visit the state’s website at www.mybenefits.ny.gov to apply for regular HEAP online.

If one received a regular HEAP benefit, they may call or visit (by appointment) the county office to apply for a $350 emergency HEAP benefit. For a list of phone numbers and addresses, visit www.HEAPhelps.com and click on “Find a HEAP office.” Second emergency HEAP benefit amounts are the same as the first emergency HEAP benefit amounts.

To apply for an emergency HEAP benefit:

√ One must have a shut-off notice.

√ Call the local county HEAP office with a National Fuel account number or social security number or HEAP case number.

In addition to HEAP, numerous programs are available to help individuals who struggle to make their payments. National Fuel encourages its customers to contact a customer assistance representative to discuss their situations. A quick call can provide information on the following programs:

Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund is open year-round and helps qualified customers, aged 55 years or older, or have a certified medical condition, or are disabled, or are currently receiving unemployment benefits or are a veteran, to prevent an energy emergency;

•A deferred payment agreement allows the potential to negotiate a repayment plan in the event of a problem or special circumstance; and

Special protections is applicable for households where all residents are aged 62 years or older, 18 years or younger, blind or disabled. Customer assistance is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays by calling 1-800-365-3234. For customers who want to have level, predictable monthly gas payments this winter, National Fuel suggests budget plan billing as a way to stabilize monthly heating bills. For more information, visit www.nationalfuel.com/utility/payment-assistance-programs.

A press release noted, “As always, if you smell gas, leave fast! If a rotten-egg natural gas odor is present, leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel's emergency line, 1-800-444-3130, from a different location. If you smell gas outdoors, call National Fuel’s emergency number and provide the address nearest to the site of the odor. To learn more about natural gas safety, visit www.nationalfuel.com/utility/gas-safety.”

National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. is the utility segment of National Fuel Gas Co.

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