Many from Harlem to the Hudson saw a significant increase in their utility bills last winter.
Residential natural gas bills will skyrocket by another 29% again this heating season depending on the utility, the State Public Service Commission projects.
These spikes in energy supply costs will likely leave many New Yorkers unable to pay their utility bills as temperatures begin to drop.
The low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides assistance to people with low-, moderate- and fixed-incomes to pay their utility bills. Congress recently added $1 billion to the program, but many eligible customers are not aware of this assistance option.
Benefits open on November 1, 2022.
In these inflationary times, many New Yorkers have some protections against having their utilities shut off in times of unseasonably high or low temperatures, but many are now facing the prospect of having their utilities shut off or having to choose between heating their home and purchasing necessities such as food and medicine.
“For many low-and fixed-income New Yorkers, heating a home can be a significant strain on their monthly budget, but the high cost of energy made it even worse this season,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Now is the time to make sure individuals and families who need this assistance can get it. We encourage all eligible residents to apply for LIHEAP as soon as possible.”
“HEAP is a lifeline for many low- and fixed-income households. As the heating season begins and home energy usage increases, it’s crucial that New Yorkers know help is available,” said Laurie Wheelock, Executive Director and Counsel of the Public Utility Law Project. “It’s especially prudent that eligible households with past due bills apply as soon as possible to also take advantage of the State Electric and Gas Debt Relief Program before year’s end.”
HEAP can provide up to $976 to eligible homeowners and renters depending on income, household size and how they heat their home. To qualify for heating assistance from HEAP, a family of four must have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,485, or an annual gross income of $65,829. The HEAP Emergency Benefit (EHEAP), which is available for low-income New Yorkers in a heat or heat-related emergency, is scheduled to open on January 3, 2023.
Importantly, receipt of HEAP will automatically enroll customers in their utility’s low-income Energy Affordability Program (EAP), which provides customers with a discount on their monthly electric and/or gas utility bills. Households enrolled in the EAP with past-due bills will receive much-needed and immediate relief through a one-time bill credit that eliminates arrears accrued through May 1, 2022. Any eligible customer that enrolls before December 31, 2022, can receive the benefit.
Most eligible New Yorkers can sign up through the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/apply/#heap or contact their local Department of Social Services for more information. New York City residents can visit their local Human Resources Administration (HRA) office or call the HRA HEAP Infoline at 1-800-692-0557.
Households struggling to afford their energy bills can also speak with their local utility about setting up a levelized payment plan (often referred to as budget billing) and enrolling in energy efficiency and weatherization audit programs (to help you save money by reducing your energy usage).
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.
Since 1981, The Public Utility Law Project of New York (PULP) has been the sole independent organization educating, advocating, and litigating on behalf of New York’s low-income utility consumers. Learn more at www.utilityproject.org or follow @UtilityProject on social media.