Governor Hochul today announced that $15 million is available through the Home Energy Assistance Program to help low-income individuals and families who lack air conditioning stay cool for the next several months. of summer. At the Governor’s direction, the State Office of Temporary Assistance and Disabilities – the agency administering HEAP – has expanded eligibility for the cooling component to more effectively assist those in need by including all Income-eligible New Yorkers.
“For too many New Yorkers, the relief from the sweltering heat that summer brings every year is prohibitively expensive,” Governor Hochul said. “By expanding the eligibility criteria for cooling aid, we can help ensure that more low-income and disadvantaged households have the means to stay comfortable and safe when temperatures inevitably rise. .”
To qualify for cooling assistance under the amended guidelines, applicants must meet HEAP eligibility criteria and income thresholds, which vary by household size. For example, a family of four may have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,249 or an annual gross income of $62,983. Prior to this year, the cooling component of HEAP was only available to income-eligible households that had someone with a documented medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat.
The program covers the cost of an air conditioning unit and its installation. Under the expanded eligibility, the cooling component is expected to serve up to 20,000 households statewide.
Applications for cooling aid will be accepted at local social services from Monday May 2 until August 31, or until funds are exhausted. Support is provided on a first come, first served basis. New York residents can download an application and get program information at access.nyc.gov.
The Cooling Assistance Program provided approximately 11,300 benefits statewide last year alone. More than 36,000 homes in New York City have received cooling assistance over the past five years.
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said: “Summer inevitably brings sweltering temperatures that are not only uncomfortable for New Yorkers who lack the ability to cool their homes, but also pose a significant risk of heat-related health emergencies. Eligibility Expanded cooling assistance will be a welcome relief for low-income households struggling to moderate the heat during the hottest days of summer.”
New York State Office of Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said: “Extreme heat poses major health and safety risks to people of all ages, but especially seniors. The Heating and Cooling Assistance program provides relief where individuals and families need it. most needed, in their living environment. I commend Governor Hochul for expanding this important benefit to help more New Yorkers and make it easier for them to access much-needed cooling assistance.”
Senator Charles Schumer said: “This $15 million federal home energy assistance will ensure New York City families and seniors struggling to pay their bills can stay cool during the hot summer months. I am proud to having ratcheted up the pressure on federal authorities to get them to provide this emergency assistance to keep seniors and families safe and with the air conditioning running in their homes.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said: “No person or family should ever be without proper air conditioning, especially over the coming summer months. I am proud to announce this $15 million in funding that will help low-income families access air conditioning. helps with cooling. It’s all about safety, and as New York continues to face extreme weather conditions, we need to make sure everyone has access to reliable and sufficient heating and cooling systems to stay safe. At her place. ”
Representative Paul Tonko said: “Reducing energy costs for hard-working families is essential to our long-term goals of building a more resilient, clean and equitable nation, while providing immediate relief to those who need it most. years I have fought to make utility bills more affordable.Through my successful efforts to fund the Energy Assistance Program for Low-Income Households under our Federal Expenditure Legislation and COVID relief, this vital program will continue to serve families in New York City and across the country.
Representative Kathleen Rice said: “The past year has seen record-breaking heat waves across the United States. Proper air conditioning will be a lifesaving tool as we continue to deal with the dangerous effects of climate change. I’m glad Governor Hochul is expanding this important program that will provide critical cooling assistance to tens of thousands of low-income households throughout the summer months.
Representative Adriano Espaillat said: “The Home Energy Assistance Program plays a vital role in ensuring that low-income people in our communities are able to cover the cost of heating their homes and keep their lives safe and healthy. their family. As climate change continues to increase the number and intensity of summer heat waves, it is important that we protect our most vulnerable populations. Too often, disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities face the most severe impacts of climate change when they are least responsible for the causes. I commend Governor Hochul for announcing so much – needed additional investment from New York State to ensure low-income people and their families who don’t have air conditioning can stay cool during the coming summer months. »
State Senator Roxanne Persaud said“Expanding eligibility for cooling assistance through the Home Energy Assistance Program to all income-eligible New Yorkers is a necessary step in the right direction. Air conditioning is a necessity for New Yorkers. -Vulnerable Yorkers prone to heat-related illnesses, especially the elderly, young and those with breathing difficulties.”
Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal said: “In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of New York families are still struggling to pay utility bills, rent, and put food on the table to feed their families. warmer months, it’s critical that we provide hard-working, low-income New Yorkers with relief to help them stay cool, and an additional $15 million for the Energy Assistance Program will do just that. While more resources are needed to provide full relief from public service arrears, I am grateful to the Governor for making this important commitment.”
Beth Finkel, director of AARP in New York State, said: “Financial assistance to avoid potentially deadly summer heat should be available to all who need it. AARP New York commends Governor Hochul for taking an important proactive step to protect the health of New Yorkers – especially older New Yorkers, who are particularly sensitive to temperature extremes.”
Becky Preve, executive director of the Association on Aging in New York, said: “Older people are extremely vulnerable to heat and heat-related illnesses. In many cases, they may experience exacerbations of chronic health conditions and respiratory problems. The availability of cooling assistance for the elderly is paramount to maintaining health and safety in the community. The New York Association on Aging is thrilled that Governor Hochul has extended this benefit to New Yorkers.”
LiveOn NY Executive Director, Allison Nickerson, said, “Through our benefits awareness program, LiveOn NY has seen firsthand the impact of the Cooling Assistance Program of Heating and Cooling Assistance to keep low-income older New Yorkers cool in the face of extreme heat throughout the summer. We commend Governor Hochul for expanding eligibility to ensure this program can reach more older New Yorkers in the need, and we look forward to working to ensure that all older people are aware of this important resource provided by the state.
Sonal Jessel, Policy Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said, “The Home Energy Assistance Program is a vital benefit for many people during the summer months. Over a ten-year period, about 50 percent of heat-related deaths in New York City were black/African Americans, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. We thank Governor Hochul and the OTDA for expanding eligibility for the Cooling Assistance Program. by administering a medical waiver, extending it to people living in subsidized housing, and offering the app in multiple formats.”
Public Utility Law Project Executive Director Richard Berkley said, “As summers get hotter due to climate change, New Yorkers, especially the elderly, low-income households and those living in ‘heat islands’, need access to cooling to avoid dangerous heat-related illnesses. We welcome the expansion of the New York Heating and Cooling Assistance Program launched this summer by the State’s Office of Disability Assistance These reforms, part of New York’s Climate and Community Protection Act, will protect disadvantaged communities and protect many more New Yorkers from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which will become all the more common as each summer in turn becomes the hottest on record.”
In addition to cooling assistance, the agency also continues to offer the Emergency HEAP benefit to households facing a life-threatening heat or heat-related energy crisis or emergency. The emergency benefit is available until August 31 or until the allocated funds are exhausted.
Statewide demand for HEAP remains high. So far this season, nearly 1.5 million regular benefits have been received by low-to-moderate income households, and nearly 63,000 emergency benefits have also been paid to these households.