NORWICH Freezing temperatures in the last month have had thousands of county residents adjusting their thermostat and no public assistance program has felt a greater impact than HEAP.
For the month of January alone, the Chenango County Department of Socials Services estimates an increase of 34 percent in the number of regular Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits compared to this time last year. According to DSS Deputy Commissioner Daniel Auwarter, the department accepted more than 685 applicants for regular HEAP benefits between Jan. 1 and Jan. 14, 2014 a considerable increase from the 512 households that received regular HEAP benefits from Jan. 1 to Jan. 13, 2013.
The cold weather has brought more folks in for HEAP applications this year, said Auwarter. We have definitely seen an increase in the number of people who are in need of (heating) assistance, and I think the colder weather is a lot to blame for that.