If your family is worried about your ability to pay your heating bills as temperatures drop, you may be eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), a federally-funded program that issues heating benefits to supplement a household’s annual energy cost.
HEAP offers two tiers of benefits to New York’s working families: a regular stipend for lower-income folks in need of assistance, or an emergency benefit for those stuck in specific, short-term circumstances.
The regular benefit component assists lower-income New Yorkers with their heating costs based on income, the primary heating source and the presence of a household member who is under age 6, age 60 or older or permanently disabled. An eligible household may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year. Regular benefits for households that pay directly for heat based on actual usage are paid to the vendor of the household’s primary source of heat.
You may be eligible for a regular benefit if:
- You and your household members are United States citizens or qualified aliens;
- Your household’s gross monthly income is at or below the current income guidelines for your household size;
- You receive food stamps;
- You receive temporary assistance; or
- You receive Code A Supplemental Security Income (SSI living alone).
In addition to regular benefits, HEAP also provides emergency benefits to New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat-related energy emergency and do not have the resources available to fix the crisis. Emergency HEAP benefits are based on income, available resources, the number of household members and the primary fuel type. You may be eligible for the emergency benefits if:
- Your electricity is necessary for your heating system or thermostat to work and is either shut off or scheduled to be shut off;
- Your natural gas heat is off or scheduled to be shut off;
- You are in danger of running out of fuel; or
- Your essential home-heating equipment is inoperable.
HEAP benefits also include the heating equipment repair or replacement component, which helps low-income homeowners repair or replace furnaces, boilers and other direct-heating elements required to keep the home’s primary heating source in working order. Benefit amounts are based on the actual cost incurred for repair or replacement of the appliance, up to $6,000.
A warm home is critical during the long, cold winter months. That’s why household heating cost increases have created a serious issue for many Brooklyn residents, and HEAP assistance provides added protection for those who need it most. For further information about HEAP in New York City, please call the Human Resources Adminstration Department of Social Services toll-free number at 800 692-0557 or visit the HRA/DSS website at www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/directory/heap.shtml.
— Katie McNish