The New York state government created the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to assist lower-income households with their energy costs. Under normal conditions, households can get at least one HEAP benefit each year, but in emergencies, households can get multiple benefits per year. The Cooling Assistance Program is part of the HEAP program, which provides free air conditioners to households whose occupants suffer from heat-related health conditions.
The Cooling Assistance Program is only available to households that meet the normal HEAP criteria and have a patient with a heat-sensitive condition. Developers and architects working on affordable housing should tell their tenants about the program.
What is HEAP?
A grant program from the federal and state governments, the Home Energy Assistance Program provides low-income households with assistance with heating, cooling, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs. When it comes to the winter months, New York is the state where most of the money goes towards heating the residence. Furthermore, it also provides funds for some cooling costs, but we do not believe that the program is adequate to meet the cooling needs of urban environments, given that climate change leads to more frequent and stronger hot days.
Amounts up to $800 are currently available through HEAP to provide air conditioning units or fans to households, including apartments. However, it does not include any support for covering the extra energy cost over and above the central air conditioning. It is well-known that energy bills are often the second most expensive expense for New Yorkers living paycheck to paycheck.
In addition to the regular weatherization program, special programs are available to landlords who own buildings where at least 60 percent of the dwellings are low-income units. However, this weatherization does not include one thing: installing more energy-efficient cooling systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the system more energy-efficient. It is time for New Yorkers to apply for HEAP cooling benefits starting May 1st and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis until August 31st – or until the funds have been exhausted, whichever comes first.
Who is Eligible?
If one of the household members has a heat-exacerbated illness and meets the income requirements, the household is eligible. People who are currently participating or have family members who are participating in certain other program benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or certain needs-tested Veteran benefits may be automatically eligible for these benefits.
Cooling Assistance Program
The 2021-2022 Cooling Assistance program opened for applications on May 2, 2022. There may be a possibility for you to receive one Cooling Assistance benefit per household to help you buy and install an air conditioner or a fan to keep your home cool in the summer. It is possible to install a fan in situations where there is no way to install an air conditioner safely.
Each household will be provided with air conditioners or fans, which cannot exceed $800, excluding installation costs. No additional cash benefits will be offered through HEAP. A cooling assistance HEAP benefit may be available to you if you qualify for the following:
- If your household income falls below the household income guidelines for your size, then you may qualify for assistance.
- If you are receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- If you are eligible to receive Temporary Assistance (TA),
- You will not be subject to taxes when you receive SSI Living Alone (Code A Supplemental Security Income).
- As long as you have received a Regular benefit equal to $21 or greater during the current program year and reside in government-subsidized housing with heat included in your rent, and if you have received a Regular benefit greater than $21 or greater during the current program year, then you qualify for assistance.
- In your household, at least one person is a citizen of the United States, or a qualified alien,
- The air conditioner you currently have is not functioning, or it is older than five years old, or the air conditioner you do have is broken, and
- You have not received HEAP funding to purchase an air conditioner in the past five years.
You and your household must satisfy all the eligibility requirements of your local Social Services Department and provide the necessary documentation. You and your household must reside in an eligible living situation.
Getting the air conditioner installed
The supplier list for the HVAC Participating Vendors can be obtained by referring to the HEAP Participating Vendor list. Choose the county you reside in, the fuel type as “Cooling,” and click the “Go” button. You will be responsible for keeping your air conditioner in good working condition. The responsibility also includes the removal, covering, storing, and reinstalling of the unit or the installation sleeve after the vendor has completed the installation.
Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!