Heating assistance will be available Nov. 17
FINGER LAKES--As the temperature drops, many begin to look for assistance in order to heat their homes. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is designed to provide aid to those living at or below a certain income threshold that determines if they are eligible to receive financial aid. Area residents can begin applying for LIHEAP assistance with the Department of Social Services Monday, Nov. 17.
LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months.
Schuyler County Commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS) JoAnn Fratarcangelo said in 2013 there were 818 households who received HEAP benefits, amounting to 1,821 people.
Yates Department of Social Services Commissioner Amy Miller said 2,450 households in Yates County received HEAP benefits, with $987,414 being paid directly to vendors for heating costs.
Miller said regular HEAP benefit amounts vary depending on fuel type. She said oil, kerosene and propane benefits amount to $575, while wood, coal, corn, pellet and other types of fuel receive $500. Natural gas and electric benefit amounts are $350. Miller said the benefit amounts are down slightly from last year while the income requirements are up slightly. To be eligible for HEAP, the monthly income for a household must be at or below the a gross monthly income guideline, which are:
• One person -- $2,194.
• Two people -- $2,869.
• Three people -- $3,544.
• Four people -- $4,219.
Each additional person for households of 11 and up adds $508 to the eligibility limit.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 15, New York State received $343,907,432 in federal fiscal year 2015 regular block grant funding to LIHEAP grantees. This is part of more than $3 billion in funding nationwide by the Office of Community Services (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance (DEA). According to Senator Charles Schumer's (D-New York) office, New York is the largest beneficiary of these funds, as it goes to help meet the heating needs of more than 1 million New Yorkers.
"No one should ever have to choose between putting food on the table and heating their homes," Schumer said. "With winter's cold and high energy prices right around the corner, families and seniors across Upstate New York need help paying their heating costs. This massive infusion of federal funding right to the pockets of New Yorkers who need it most will provide critical relief to those residents facing the tough choice between food and heat this winter season. This funding will help keep more than a million New Yorkers out of the freezing cold this winter."
According to Schumer's office, the number of households eligible for the program exceeds those receiving assistance. For emergency assistance with heating or utility bills and heating equipment repairs or replacement regardless of age, contact the Yates County Department of Social Services at 315-536-5183.