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New emergency benefit available for households facing loss of heat

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has announced an additional $12 million is available to help eligible New Yorkers facing a home heating emergency. Households can now apply for a third emergency benefit through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) if they are in danger of running out of fuel or having their utility service shut off and have already received assistance from HEAP this winter.

Additionally, the deadline to apply for both regular and emergency HEAP benefits has been extended until June 30. With this additional funding, eligible households could receive up to $3,015 from HEAP to help defray the cost of heating their home this winter.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more New Yorkers are struggling with the high cost of heating their homes, including those who are now unemployed,” Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Mike Hein said. “This additional funding will help ensure the most vulnerable among us can continue to heat their homes. I encourage anyone in need of help to pay their heating bills to apply for this critical assistance.”

Households that have received the regular benefit and two emergency benefits during this HEAP season will also be able to apply for additional assistance if they face the possibility of having a utility shut off or running out of heating fuel without the available resources to replenish it. Households are ordinarily only eligible to receive one regular and one emergency HEAP benefit each winter. But earlier this year, a second emergency benefit was made available to meet rising demand.

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s direction last month, utility companies agreed to suspend service disconnections and instead offer deferred payment plans for financially struggling customers. These customers, however, will still ultimately be responsible for paying the balance of their accrued bills, which is where the emergency assistance can help.

Statewide demand for HEAP remains high. So far this winter, more than 1.4 million households have received a regular HEAP benefit, with more than 92,000 of those also receiving an emergency HEAP benefit.

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 $57,564 per year, or $4,797 per month, and still qualify for help.

Overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability 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: otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/contacts. For more information on HEAP, visit: otda.ny.gov/programs/heap.

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