PLATTSBURGH — New York was set to receive an additional $50.6 million in funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program as of last Thursday.
Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced another $50 million.
The first increase, according to U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, were included in the 2014 omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in January.
The funds announced Monday, the governor said in a press release, will allow the state to keep the regular benefit component of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) going into February.
“With the wolf of winter cold snapping at the door, this urgently needed home-heating aid arrived not a moment too soon for countless New York seniors and struggling families,” Schumer said in a news release.
“This massive release of $50.6 million in federal funding to New York will provide critical relief to residents and senior citizens who were being forced to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table.
“With record-breaking freezes occurring in New York and across the country, there was simply no reason for the government to hold onto millions of dollars in home-heating aid; I’m thrilled that the feds have quickly released this funding to New York for immediate use this winter.”
No New York family should ever be left in the cold, Gillibrand said.
“But with bitter-cold temperatures and rising energy costs, families and seniors who are struggling in this tough economy can’t afford to heat their homes,” she said in a press release. “This funding is a lifeline for New Yorkers who rely on it so they can stay warm this winter.”
Both senators had urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to release as much funding as possible and as soon as possible.
Schumer said the additional $50.6 million could be available almost immediately.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers benefit from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program each year. From September 2012 through October 2013, more than 1.5 million households in New York received funding totaling $306,250,583.
The funds are available for families and households whose income is 150 percent of the federal poverty level or lower.
In addition to assistance with home-heating bills, the funds can help offset the costs of weatherization and more efficient home-heating units. That can help reduce demand on the state’s energy grid.
To apply for a regular HEAP benefit, submit an application online at myBenefits.ny.gov.
For emergency assistance contact your local department of social services.