New York – High inflation and rising food prices have forced millions of Americans to choose between buying food and paying their monthly bills. This is becoming more evident as the weather gets colder, and heating our homes will result in even higher bills during the winter months. Gas and electricity prices have gone up, and the trend is expected to continue in the upcoming period.
When it comes to Rochester, the largest gas and electricity supplier, Rochester Gas and Electric, had recently increased gas and electricity prices. The company recently proposed another 13-22% rate increase, a proposal that comes at the worst possible moment for many local residents as heating will additionally increase the monthly bills during the long winter.
However, New York state residents are eligible to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and get up to $976 to cover their heating bills. According to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who announced this program in late October, households with monthly incomes as high as $5,485, or annual gross incomes of $65,829 are eligible to apply and get help from the state.
“We remain committed to ensuring our most vulnerable New Yorkers have access to assistance and programs that will help address rising costs for heating their homes this winter,” Hochul said in October. “The Home Energy Assistance Program is a vital lifeline for countless New York families, and I encourage all who are eligible to apply for these benefits which will provide much needed financial relief.”
The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is running the program, and officials will calculate regular benefits after taking into consideration several criteria, including income, household size, how the home is heated, and if the household contains a vulnerable member.
Households in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off can additionally apply for an emergency benefit, but those affected can send their application for this program as soon as early January.
New York City residents may be eligible for the program even if their heat is included in their rent and can access an application online. Only U.S. citizens and people with satisfactory immigration status are eligible for the program.
Everyone interested in applying for the HEAP program can learn more at this link.