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Emergency home heating aid available to help New Yorkers amid spike in fuel prices

Available emergency home heating aid per household increases up to 42% to help New Yorkers avoid heating emergencies amid winter fuel price spike.
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NEW YORK — Governor Hochul announced a substantial year-over-year increase in available emergency home heating aid for New Yorkers. 

Hochul said more than $90 million in federal funding is available to help low and middle-income New Yorkers avoid having their home heating disconnected or exhausting their heating source due to fuel price increases this winter. 

"With the arrival of frigid winter weather and surging fuel prices, we must do everything in our power to safeguard vulnerable New Yorkers struggling to keep their heat on," Governor Hochul said. "This significant increase in available emergency home heating aid represents a lifeline for tens of thousands of families. It will help them heat their homes, prevent overdue bills from piling up, and avoid the incredible stress and anxiety that can overwhelm anyone facing a heating emergency."

The Home Energy Assistance Program will begin accepting emergency benefit applications on Monday, January 3, for those New Yorkers who have already used up their regular benefit and who are now facing a heating emergency.

The state said the emergency benefit amount per household has increased by at least 32%, and upward of 42%, depending on the type of heating fuel used for the household. 

A home heated with natural gas will now be eligible for $465, a 32.8% increase over last year's benefit, while a home using oil, kerosene or propane will be eligible for a $965, a 42.9% increase over the last year.

"Far too many New Yorkers struggle to make ends meet as the cold-weather months continue. And with the pronounced increases in heating utility expenses, this year will be no exception. HEAP's emergency benefit provides a timely stop-gap for those households that are falling behind on their heating bills or are at risk of exhausting their heating fuel supply so that they can continue warming their homes through the winter," Office of Temporary Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara Guinn said.

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During the fall, the New York Public Service Commission forecast that electric and natural gas bills will be significantly higher for the 2021-2022 winter season, with natural gas projected to increase by an average of about 21% statewide. The cost of propane has also increased about 30% since last winter, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

To be eligible for the emergency benefit, an income qualifying household must be facing a heating utility shut off, or electric utility service disconnection if it is necessary to operate the primary heating equipment. Also qualified for the benefit are those households that have exhausted their heating fuel supply or have less than one quarter tank of oil, kerosene, or propane; or have less than a 10-day supply of other heating fuels.

Applications for assistance are accepted at local departments of social services in person or by telephone, with funding provided on a first-come, first-served basis. 

A list of local offices by county can be found here. Residents outside of New York City may also apply online for regular heating assistance benefits. 

To qualify for these federally funded programs, applicants must meet HEAP eligibility criteria and income guidelines, which vary by household size. For instance, a family of four may have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,249 or an annual gross income of $62,983.