The New York Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”) will close today for both Regular HEAP and Emergency HEAP. Unlike some other states, New York does not supplement the HEAP program when federal funds are depleted. Section 97 of the Social Services Law provides that
No person, however, shall be certified as eligible for and entitled to receive said home energy assistance if no federal funds are available for such purpose.
New York does have an emergency utility assistance program under section 131-s of the social services law which can provide assistance in situations where utility service is off or a shutoff is threatened and HEAP is not available. That program has eligibility requirements more stringent than HEAP and recipients whose income is above the welfare level must make a written agreement to repay the local department of social services. OTDA has adopted rules that bar assistance to an applicant who did not repay prior assistance. See OTDA Must Relax Its Administrative Restriction on Utility Assistance Loans for Persons with Incomes Above the Public Assistance Level, and OTDA Eases, but Continues, its Administrative Restriction on Assistance to Utility Customers with Incomes Above the Public Assistance Level.
With the HEAP program closing, the restrictions on state-funded assistance, and rising economic hardship for many families, utility service terminations are likely to increase this year. Last year, utilities shut off service to more than 330,000 New York customers for nonpayment. See PSC Reports on Devastating Termination Statistics.