U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will immediately release $339,000,000 from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to New York State. LIHEAP is the federally funded program that helps low-income households and seniors with energy bills. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, these funds will help New Yorkers impacted by the storm because the funds may be used to place people in locations with access to heating. In the face of the crisis stemming from Hurricane Sandy, Schumer pressed for the funds to be released early.  The money, which is usually used for fuel to heat homes, can also be used to purchase temporary rentals, blankets and generators for LIHEAP beneficiaries impacted by the storm.

“These funds will help provide relief to the Hurricane Sandy victims that are still without power and heat,” said Schumer. “LIHEAP recipients should not have to choose between keeping warm and paying for food, and I am relieved that the federal government will be releasing these critical funds. This will help at-risk New Yorkers access the resources they need to keep warm and be safe during this difficult time.”

LIHEAP is a federally-funded energy assistance program that helps low-income families and senior citizens pay their heating bills. In order to qualify for the program, New York residents must need financial assistance for home energy costs and must meet a specific threshold of annual income before taxes.

During an energy crisis, LIHEAP allows states greater flexibility. After a disaster, LIHEAP funds can be used to deal with crisis situations, particularly with respect to assistance for home energy related needs. For example, LIHEAP funds can be used for the costs to temporarily shelter or house individuals in hotels, costs for transportation to move individuals away from the crisis area to shelters, utility reconnection costs, repair or replacement costs for furnaces, insulation repair, coats, blankets, crisis payments for utilities and utility deposits and the purchase of generators.

Schumer today announced that HHS will immediately release $339,011,000 in LIHEAP funding for New York. The funding is provided in block grants to each state. Schumer explained that LIHEAP funding serves as a lifeline to its recipients so that they do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food and medicine. For the New Yorkers whose homes have been destroyed by the Hurricane, these funds may be used to place people in locations that have access to heating. Schumer added that these funds may also be used to repair or replace furnaces or purchase generators.

Source: Press Release


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