Energy assistance helps with heat bill 1

The Home Energy Assistance Program helps households replace or tune up boilers.

Elected officials are working with the city Human Resources Administration and HeartShare, a nonprofit, to aid residents in need of help with their heating bills.

“My office is working with nonprofit HeartShare and NYC HRA to offer assistance to eligible residents who need help to pay their home heating bills and prevent utility shut-offs under the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP),” state Sen. Leroy Comrie said (D-St. Albans) via email. “A person may qualify if they are elderly, disabled or receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Temporary Assistance Benefits or Supplemental Security Income; and can provide valid Social Security numbers for each member of their household.”

The Home Energy Assistance Program also helps low-income households with boiler repair or replacement and also accounts in emergency status, according to Comrie’s office.

Gas bills are expected to be higher for the upcoming winter season compared to last year by 21 and 30 percent, for natural gas and propane, respectively, according to informnny.com, an online ABC affiliate. The energy benefit could be used toward heating homes with electricity, natural gas, oil, coal, propane, wood, wood pellets, kerosene and corn.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, my office is serving as an appointment based drop-off site for HEAP applications,” added Comrie.

Barry Klitsberg, the president of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging, says the price spike been hard for seniors.

“Inflation in general has been up and has hit seniors’ pockets,” said Klitsberg. “Gasoline for cars has gone up 50 percent from a year ago, and so has gas for heating the home.”

Despite a 5.9 percent bump in Social Security benefits, which is the largest single-year increase in decades, many seniors live on a fixed income and have to also deal with the rise in healthcare prices, Klitsberg said.

Homeowners, renters who pay for heat as a part of their rent or people with stocks, bonds or other resources should apply for HEAP as long as their household income is at or below the income threshold, which is $2,729 a month maximum gross, according to informNNY.com. The maximum gross monthly income for households with two people or up to 13 must be from $3,569 to $8,420. Households with more than 13 members see an additional $568 per person on top of $8,420 threshold.

“For those who are on fixed income, or who are living at a high cost here in New York City, HEAP is such a help fiscally,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “It might be $400 for some, but that might be a lot for those who need it.”

People who are on SNAP automatically are getting aid toward utilities, but often aren’t aware of that benefit, according to Addabbo.

“There is also a one-time credit neighborhood fund that can go along with HEAP,” said Addabbo. “You can file for it in our office and then we follow-up ... call your elected officials. Let us be your resource. There are so many exemptions out there, many that need to be filed and refiled, but people just don’t know about them.”

Addabbo is referring to the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which provides economic relief to help low-threshold and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by providing rental arrears, temporary rental assistance and utility arrears, according to state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing).

“There is a provision in ERAP to help pay utility bills,” said Stavisky. “Energy experts predict that the cost of natural gas is going up by 20 percent because of inflation and the supply chain. It is costing more to import and more to transport gas.”

To prevent gas prices from further spiraling, President Biden authorized the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to Stavisky. That will be a relief for drivers and could have a ripple effect in bringing down the price of gas for heating.

State Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside) shares Addabbo’s sentiments about constituents reaching out to their elected officials.

“It would be terrible for anyone in our community to go without heat during the cold winter months,” said Liu via email to the Queens Chronicle. “My office is here to help anyone in need to register for HEAP by walking them through the entire application process from beginning to end. We’re able to assist applicants with everything from gathering the right documents, to navigating the online portal, and even connecting them to local community groups for additional services.”

To apply for HEAP, one must have a rent receipt with address; copy of a lease with address; a water, sewer or tax bill; a homeowner’s policy; deed; mortgage payment receipt; and a utility bill, according to informNNY.com. Forms of identification include a photo ID, a driver’s license, birth or baptismal certificate, school records, passport or paper documenting disability.

People in Queens can go to the Department of Social Services at 32-20 Northern Blvd. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday or call (212) 331-3126.

Con Edison and National Grid both offered advice on how to save this winter.

“Rising energy costs are affecting consumers around the world,” said Karl-Erik Stromsta, a spokesman for Con Edison. “Con Edison has taken steps to mitigate the impact, but increased natural gas prices will result in higher bills for both gas and electric customers. To help offset these increases, Con Edison offers a wide array of energy efficiency programs that reduce the use of energy, improve the environment, and save money. Customers can get personalized information on these programs by logging in to My Account or they can visit our website.”

The average residential gas-heating bill from November 2021 through March 2022 will be about $341 per month, up about 24 percent from last winter’s average monthly bill of $275, partially because severe weather has hindered production in the Gulf area, according to Con Edison.

By setting a thermostat a few degrees lower, making sure vents are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or objects that can obstruct the flow of heat, customers could save on their heating bill. Having a qualified contractor clean and inspect a heating system, insulating hot-water pipes and warm-air ducts that pass through unheated areas, cleaning or replacing filters for a hot-air furnace and heat-pump could also cut prices on a heating bill.

National Grid prices are expected to go up by $46, according to Wendy Frigeria, the company’s spokeswoman.

“Actual impacts to customers will depend on weather and actual usage,” said Frigeria. “We’re committed to supporting our customers and have programs designed to help manage energy and costs, especially for our most vulnerable customers, including taking advantage of the federally funded [HEAP].”

To receive help with HEAP from National Grid visit: nationalgridus.com/NY-Home/Bill-Help/Energy-Affordability-Program?regionkey=nymetro&customertype=home.

“National Grid customers who are eligible for HEAP also qualify for additional discounts through our energy affordability program,” she said.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.