STATEN ISLAND, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced that $ 150 million has been set aside to help low-income households who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pay their heating bills.
Administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the regular arrears supplement is available to households eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and behind on their heating bills, but who are not eligible. for the utility assistance offered by the New York City Emergency Rental Assistance Program, according to the state.
“The global health crisis has brought to light the struggles of so many New Yorkers, including tens of thousands of households who have fallen significantly behind on utility bills,” Hochul said. “This essential assistance will help these households pay the utility bills that have piled up during the height of the pandemic and will help them avoid a potential disconnection in the months to come. “
There is $ 150 million available for one-off payments to HEAP-eligible households through the regular arrears supplement by September 2022, or until funding runs out, the state said.
ARREARS COVERAGE UP TO $ 10,000
Secured by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, federal funding will cover all accumulated arrears of heating services up to $ 10,000 and marks the end of the moratorium on utility disconnections in late December.
About 83,000 HEAP beneficiaries were behind on their utility bills as of March 2021, with those households facing an average backlog of about $ 1,370, or about $ 113 million statewide, according to the Hochul office. .
To qualify for this program, tenants must also qualify for the emergency rental assistance program, the state said.
“Many low-income New Yorkers were struggling to bear the financial burden of utility bills even before the onset of the global pandemic. This essential aid will help alleviate some of that burden and help these households avoid the grim potential of disconnection from public services, ”said Mike Hein, OTDA Commissioner.
Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements to receive a regular HEAP benefit, which varies by income and household size, and be in active collections or face service disconnection or termination, said the state. Applicants must also be the official client of the public service or pay a public service directly.
Applications for help are accepted at local social service departments in person or over the phone, with funding provided on a first-come, first-served basis, the state said. A list of local offices by county can be found here.
FOLLOW TRACEY PORPORA ON FACEBOOK and TWITTER