$339 Million Available to Help Struggling New Yorkers Combat Soaring Winter Heating Costs

Nov 19, 2012, 14:16 ET from AARP New York

State Residents Fear Higher Bills as New AARP Report Finds Winter Heating Costs on the Rise, HEAP Enrollment Starts Today

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New Yorkers fearful of rising home heating costs won't catch a break this winter, according to a new AARP report. However, for many, some help is on the way.  Today marks the first day Empire State residents can apply for assistance in paying their heating bills this winter through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).

As part of the federally-funded HEAP program, New York State has a total of over $339 million to help lower income New Yorkers with home heating bills. The funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, with applications being accepted through at least March 15, 2013, or until funds run out.  AARP warns the money goes quickly and is urging those who need the help and qualify to apply now (apply online or print application here: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/apply/).

The rising home heating/cooling costs are an issue for the majority of state residents, according to an AARP survey (http://bit.ly/NYWinter). And a new AARP report (http://bit.ly/U9bn4q) finds cost increases this season will likely outpace the ability of low-income consumers to adequately heat their homes, with older Americans being hit particularly hard.  According to the report, average winter heating costs will increase for 65-plus consumers using: oil by 17% (costing as much as $2,753, a record high); natural gas by 15% (costing about $510); and electricity by 5% (costing about $466 during the winter). 

"Older New Yorkers get the brunt of any rate increase as they spend the highest percentage of their household income on utility bills out of any age group," said Beth Finkel, Manager of Community Outreach for AARP in New York. "When heating costs are too high, they are forced to make unhealthy choices, sometimes between buying a prescription, eating healthily or turning up the thermostat.  AARP encourages older New Yorkers on limited incomes to apply for HEAP if they are eligible."

New York households can be eligible for up to $650 in HEAP.  Full eligibility requirements, such as size of household and gross monthly income can be found on the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance site: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/program.asp#regular.

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