Gunther: Extra HEAP Funds Can Help New Yorkers Pay High Utility Bills

More aid available for Sullivan and Orange county families

The federal government recently released extra Home Energy Assistance Program money, meaning Sullivan and Orange county families are eligible to receive more help paying this winter’s energy bills. HEAP provides grants for heating bills ranging from $40 to $400 to eligible low-income seniors, those with disabilities and working families.

Release of the extra money comes in the wake of an Assembly resolution I helped pass earlier this week urging the federal government to allocate more funds to meet the growing demand for HEAP. Through the end of January, 640,000 households received assistance – an increase of 39,000 over the same period last year.

The increased HEAP funding is truly a blessing for Sullivan and Orange county residents who have been hit hard by a bitter cold winter. It lessens the financial burden on hard-working families and seniors and promotes safe heating options.

In addition to helping people make ends meet, HEAP funding helps families heat their homes safely. People struggling to pay bills often turn to less expensive, but riskier options like space heaters and open flames, which are more likely to cause house fires. The HEAP funding will help families better afford safer heat sources.

HEAP eligibility is based on a household’s income, living arrangement, heating costs, vulnerable family members, and source of heat. For instance, a family of four that pays for its heat directly and has a gross monthly income of less than $3,325 could receive between $150 and $400. An elderly couple that doesn’t pay directly for heat and makes less than $2,261 could see between $40 and $50. New York’s program provides regular and emergency benefits to eligible renters and homeowners alike.

To receive an application or find out if you are eligible for HEAP benefits, contact the Sullivan County Department of Social Services at 292-0100, the Orange County Department of Social Services at 291-4000 or call the HEAP hotline at 1-800-342-3009. You can also visit and download an application off the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Web site or call my district office at (845) 794-5807 for more information.