Help for heating increased this year

— Photo by Magnusha
Households that heat with wood will see a 21 percent increase in HEAP benefits this year.

ALBANY COUNTY — New Yorkers needing help paying their heating bills can now apply for home heating assistance.
The Home Energy Assistance Program, known as HEAP, can provide up to $976 this winter to help low- and middle-income households and senior citizens keep their homes warm and help defray high energy costs.

Nearly 1.7 million HEAP benefits were issued last winter — with 18,685 in Albany County — the highest in at least the past five years. Similar demand for assistance is expected again this winter. 

The program, overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, is federally funded. Eligible households can receive one regular benefit per season and could also be eligible for an emergency benefit if they are in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off.

Applications for regular benefits started being accepted on Nov. 1; emergency benefits will be accepted beginning Jan. 3, 2023.

A family of four may have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,485, or an annual gross income of $65,829, and still qualify for benefits.

The value of the regular HEAP benefits has been increased due the higher heating costs forecast for this winter. The benefit was increased 33 percent for households that heat with oil, kerosene, or propane; 21 percent for households that heat with wood, wood pellets, coal, or corn; and 14 percent for households that heat with electricity or natural gas.

Help is also now available to assist eligible homeowners if their primary heating equipment is unsafe or not operating and their furnace or boiler must be repaired or replaced.

Benefit amounts through the HEAP Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement program are based on the actual cost incurred to repair or replace the essential heating equipment — up to $4,000 for a repair and $8,000 for a replacement. The maximum amounts were also increased from last year, due to higher costs of labor and materials. 

Eligible homeowners can also now apply for a HEAP Heating Equipment Clean and Tune benefit to keep their home’s primary heating source working at peak efficiency. 

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. 

Albany County residents may apply at these locations:

— Albany County Department of Social Services,162 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210; phone: 518-447-7323; open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; the general email address for HEAP clients is energy@albanycounty.com;

— CHOICES at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Route 9W, Faith Plaza, Ravena, NY 12143; phone: 518-756-8650; open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and

— Cornell Cooperative Extension, 230 Green Street, Floor 3, Albany, NY 12202; phone: 518-765-3500; open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For after-hour emergencies, Albany Countyresidents should call the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society society at 518-463-2124.

Residents outside of New York City may also apply online for regular heating assistance benefits.

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