10.18.21

AMID NEW PREDICTIONS WARNING OF HEATING PRICE SPIKE OF 31% ACROSS CAPITAL REGION THIS WINTER, SCHUMER PUSHES TWO-PRONGED PLAN TO DEAL WITH CRISIS; 1) QUICKLY RELEASE FED FUNDS THAT HELP SENIORS & OTHERS PAY FOR HEAT & 2) INCREASE FED POT OF LIHEAP BY $100M TO KEEP THE HELP GOING

Last Year, More Than 55,000 Capital Region Households Tapped Roughly $20 Million In Home Energy Assistance BUT With Supply Chains Across Industries STILL Rocked By COVID, Upcoming Winter Could Freeze Out Working Families & Seniors Who Need The Help 

Capital Region Applications For Federal Help Are NOW Available – BUT Schumer Wants Feds To Quickly Release NY’s Dollars & Announces New Push To Fuel The Home Energy Assistance Program With $100 Million More, Should Pricing Predictions Manifest 

Schumer: We Must Turn Up The Heat On Fed Program That Helps Albany Residents Afford Rising Energy Costs Amid Pandemic

Standing with Capital Region seniors, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said recent predictions of winter heating price spikes are cause for concern that demands new federal action. Schumer said predictions that gas and heating bills in the Capital Region could rise up to 31%, the biggest increase in home heating bills in more than a decade, require a two-pronged federal push involving the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its home energy assistance office.

“Last year alone, more than 55,000 Capital Region households tapped roughly $20 million in federal home energy assistance, and this year families across the Capital Region could need to tap more, and the feds need to be ready for it,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“With supply chains across the globe still rattled by the pandemic, an issue that is now hitting all industries, including the energy sector, the concern for a home heating price spike demands a two-pronged push at the federal level. First, we need to ensure the quick release of the existing dollars to the Capital Region and second, I am announcing a push to increase that same federal pot by $100 million in the upcoming budget should the pricing predictions manifest. Either way, we need to allocate more dollars to helping seniors and working families afford the costs of energy so they can stay in their homes,” Schumer added.

Schumer, today, called on HHS to release Upstate NY’s federal funds as the applications are logged and he said those applications across the Capital Region are now available for seniors and others to fill out. The federal account was funded with more than $3 billion last year, and is at no risk of failing to make payments, but the senator wants all payments to New Yorkers expedited given the recent pricing predictions. Schumer also announced that he will seek a $100 million increase in the federal program via the upcoming budget, in anticipation of higher energy costs associated with supply chain waves induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors spoke about the cost of home heating and advocates and local officials joined Schumer to talk about the tens-of-thousands of Capital Region residents who tap these federal dollars each year and the millions of dollars that the Capital Region depends on to help seniors and working families afford their energy bills.  

LAST YEAR’S LIHEAP STATS:

Albany County:

Approximately 20,501 households received home energy assistance last winter, including approximately 1,739 households receiving emergency assistance.

Rensselaer County:

Approximately 11,050 households received home energy assistance last winter, including approximately 2,030 receiving emergency assistance.

Saratoga County:

Approximately 12,993 households received home energy assistance last winter, including approximately 2,591 receiving emergency assistance.

Schenectady County:

Approximately 12,340 households received home energy assistance last winter, including approximately 771 receiving emergency assistance.

The mission of this federal program is to assist households and seniors, particularly those with fixed, lower incomes, who spend a high proportion of their total household income on home energy. The program does this by providing monthly benefits to recipients in the cold winter months, as well as the hot summer seasons. The funding can offset the cost of more efficient heating units in the winter, more efficient air conditioners in the summer, as well as weatherization. In addition, individuals can receive assistance with their utility bills, which could see serious spikes as energy prices rise during winter months. This help can also cover the costs for bulk fuels, coal, pellets, wood, and other utilities. 

Schumer said this program has been a lifeline for thousands of households across NY State during times of economic downtown and, more recently, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the program provides relief for NY families and seniors whose incomes are 60 percent of the State’s Median Income. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, particularly many senior citizens living on a fixed income, benefit from the program every year. Schumer said that because most of the federal funds are intended to aid seniors, families with a disabled member, and families with children under the age of six, home heating aid is a significant health issue as well as an economic one. Roughly, 40 percent of households served by the HHS program include an adult aged 60 or over, as well. 

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