By Senator Patty Ritchie
As winter approaches, many living in Central and Northern New York are preparing for the drop in temperatures, and an increase in our home heating bills.
The cold can take a toll on many of our most vulnerable, including senior citizens and those on low- or fixed-incomes, who find themselves struggling with whether to keep the heat on, or have the money to pay for other necessities.
For those who find it difficult to manage home heating costs during winter, there is help available.
Recently, it was announced that more than $325 million in funding is available to assist elderly and low and moderate income New Yorkers with staying warm during the colder months.
Beginning on November 14, residents can apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as HEAP.
During the 2015-16 heating season, more than 1.4 million households across New York State, including more than 94,000 throughout Central and Northern New York, benefited from the program.
This year, eligible households can receive a one-time benefit of up to $626, depending on household size, income and type of heating source used.
To apply for HEAP, residents can visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov, or obtain an application at local departments of social services:
St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services, 6 Judson St., Canton, NY 13617 (315) 379-2297
Jefferson County Department of Social Services, 250 Arsenal St., Watertown, NY 13601 (315) 785-3229
Oswego County Department of Social Services, 100 Spring St., Mexico, NY 13114 (315) 963-5031
In addition to applying for the one-time benefit, households can also apply for an emergency benefit, beginning on January 3, 2017—if in danger of having their heat turned off, or running out of fuel.
As we know, winter can be brutally cold throughout the Central and Northern New York regions.
If you, or someone you know needs assistance with covering the cost of your heating bills this winter, I encourage you to apply for HEAP.