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Hochul announces $15 million in cooling assistance for vulnerable New Yorkers


Mon, Apr 24th 2023 12:45 pm

Air conditioning units available for those susceptible to effects of extreme heat and humidity

√ Applications for cooling assistance accepted beginning May 1

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $15 million is available through the Home Energy Assistance Program to help vulnerable, low-income New Yorkers without air conditioning to stay cool during the heat of summer. Overseen by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the program can provide an air conditioner to eligible households that include someone who has a documented medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat, or households with young children, or older adults.

"The cooling assistance program is a vital lifeline for countless New York families who often face prohibitively expensive cooling costs when temperatures inevitably rise," Hochul said. "As temperatures rise across the state, we are committed to ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged households have the means to stay safe, comfortable and cool in their own homes."

To qualify for the federally funded program, applicants must meet HEAP eligibility criteria and income thresholds, which vary by household size, and include at least one member of the household that suffers from a medical condition worsened by extreme heat, or is under age 6, or over age 60. For example, a household of four can earn up to $65,829 a year, or $5,485 per month, and still qualify for assistance.

The program covers the cost of an air conditioning unit and installation. Up to 18,500 households are expected to be served throughout the state.

Applications for cooling assistance will be accepted starting Monday, May 1, through Aug. 31, or until funding runs out. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Residents outside of New York City may apply by contacting their local departments of social services by phone or in person. New York City residents may apply in person at a local HRA Benefit Access Center, by phone, or online at access.nyc.gov.

Last year, for the first time, eligibility for cooling assistance was expanded by dropping the medical requirement, and more than 23,500 households received assistance. Eligibility requirements were adjusted again this year to prioritize serving the most vulnerable households – those that include someone with a medical condition exacerbated by heat, or young children, or older adults.

More than 54,000 households throughout New York have benefitted from cooling assistance over the past five years.

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, "Extremely hot and humid weather can put some of our most vulnerable fellow New Yorkers, including those with medical conditions, older adults and young children, in grave danger. Anyone who may be eligible is encouraged to apply for this potentially lifesaving assistance as soon as possible."

New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, "Extreme heat poses a major health and safety risk to older adults, especially those with chronic health conditions. Air conditioners can be a lifeline during increasingly common heat waves. I encourage all eligible older adults in need to apply for the HEAP cooling assistance benefit to prepare for the summer months ahead. Local offices for the aging stand ready as a resource to help older adults in the application process."

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said, "With temperatures on the rise, ensuring Americans remain safe and cool is critical. I'm proud of my work to secure these federal dollars, strengthen HEAP, and make sure families can afford their home energy bills. I encourage eligible New Yorkers to apply for this important program and stay cool this summer."

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