CHENANGO COUNTY — As temperatures dip and heating costs rise, the Chenango County Department of Social Services encourages low-income households to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
HEAP assistance can provide eligible households with a one-time direct payment to their heating vendor. Eligibility is based on monthly gross income and household size, and benefits will vary based on the method of heating, and whether or not a member of the household is a "vulnerable" — someone under six years old, over 60 years old, or considered disabled.
Applications can be completed online at MyBenefits.ny.gov, or by calling Chenango County DSS at 607-337-1500 to have an application mailed. Individuals 60 years or older can contact the Area Agency on Aging at 607-337-1770 to request an application or receive assistance completing it.
Applications can take up to 30 days to process and be approved or denied. Chenango County Department of Social Services (DSS) Head Social Welfare Examiner Patricia Hodge urges applicants to be patient, as phone calls to check on the status of their application slows down the process.
The 2022-23 HEAP season began on November 1, 2022, and is expected to end around mid-March. Applications will be accepted for the entirety of the HEAP season.
The Emergency HEAP program also began on January 3. The program assists qualifying low-income New York residents who "are facing a heat or heat-related energy emergency and do not have resources above the established limits."
ChenangoDSS.org states that in a heat or heat-related energy emergency, individuals should contact the Department of Social Services at 607-337-1500. If the office is closed and individuals have an urgent emergency, they should contact the Chenango County Sheriff's Office at 607-337-2000 to have an on-call caseworker get in contact.
Emergency situations can include a power or natural gas shutoff, a scheduled power shutoff, less than a quarter tank of oil, kerosene, or propane, or less than a ten-day supply of wood and coal.
Those in need of heating appliance repairs or replacement can also take advantage of the Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement Program (HERR), a facet of HEAP.
"That basically is for furnaces or whatever an individual heats with. So it could be a furnace, it could be a wood stove. So say they need their furnace repaired and they’re under the resource guidelines for that, we can help repair it if it’s reasonable, or if the company red tags it we can actually purchase a new furnace," said Hodge. "There are limits to how much the new furnace can be, but all the local vendors, they know all of that, if they were to call them."
Applications for HERR can be obtained by calling Chenango County DSS at 607-337-1587.
More information on the HEAP and HERR programs can be found at otda.ny.gov/programs/heap and chenangodss.org/programs.html#heap.