09.19.22

SCHUMER REVEALS WITH CAPITAL REGION WINTER BILLS EXPECTED TO SPIKE UP TO 39%, CRITICAL FED HEATING PROGRAM JUST RAN OUT OF FUNDING; STANDING AT THE FUTURE SITE OF NEW ENERGY EFFICIENT AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN TROY, SENATOR LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO KEEP CAPITAL REGION RESIDENTS SAFE & WARM THIS WINTER

Last Year, More Than 57,000 Capital Region Households Tapped Roughly $40 Million In Home Energy Assistance BUT With Energy Sector Still Strained By COVID Families And Seniors Need Added Funds To Help Stay Safe In Their Homes And Pay Their Bills

Thanks To Schumer’s Advocacy, Troy Using Fed Funding To Tear Down Vacant Buildings Downtown & Begin Constructing More Affordable Capital Region Housing For All; Senator Has Made The Case For Additional HEAP Funds Before – But Now Has The Legislative Opportunity To Secure Them This Month   

Schumer: Troy Families Deserve Access To Affordable Housing- And I Am Going To Fight To Give Them The Fed Heating Assistance They Need To Keep Them In Their Homes Through This Harsh Winter!

On the heels of National Grid predictions that home heating bills in the Capital Region could potentially spike up to 39% this winter from COVID-related supply chain issues, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed that the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is out of funding, putting tens of thousands of Capital Region seniors and families at risk of being frozen out. Standing at the future site of new energy efficient affordable housing, supported by federal funding that he helped deliver, Schumer launched a major push to add $1 billion in emergency funding in the upcoming temporary budget bill, also known as the Continuing Resolution (CR), to fund this program to keep Capital Region resident safe, warm, and in their homes.

Schumer explained the CR needs to pass by the end of this month to keep the government from shutting down. Schumer said that this new push goes hand-in-hand with work he has been putting in for years to increase federal funding to bolster affordable housing and boost investments in energy efficiency. Schumer said that he has been working to boost HEAP funds nationally for the past few months, but that the upcoming CR is the vehicle to use to get this done, and that this timing is ideal because winter looms across the state and country.

“Last year alone, more than 57,000 Capital Region households tapped roughly $40 million in federal home energy assistance, but now the fed pot of money has run dry, and families like those here in Troy could need to tap more,” said Senator Schumer. “Troy families should be in safe affordable homes, away from the cold! That’s why I am announcing a major new push to add $1 billion in HEAP funds to the upcoming budget, which must pass this month, so Capital Region residents can tap those funds and be able to better deal with rising costs during what could be an especially uncertain winter when it comes to home heating needs.”

Schumer continued, “That is also why I am proud to have delivered the federal dollars for the demolition of this blighted community eyesore downtown behind me to make way for more affordable housing, because from the American Rescue Plan to the Inflation Reduction Act, I won’t stop fighting to give Capital Region residents the resources they need to build the foundation for a better future.”

Schumer held his press conference outside of the long-vacant downtown Troy buildings on River Street that are now actively being razed by federal dollars he delivered to convert the property buildings into over 140 new energy efficient affordable housing units. This funding includes $3 million he delivered as author of the American Rescue Plan, and over $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Troy Housing Authority’s Capital Funds. Plus, the new construction will receive critical assistance from the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit he fought to expand. Schumer said that long-term, economy-boosting investments like this are integral to the economic stability of the Capital Region which is why he is pushing for more HEAP funds to get people through the expected increased heating costs this winter, and why he created new long-term investments in the Inflation Reduction Act to help pay for energy-efficiency upgrades to homes and reduce energy bills for families.

“Federal HEAP funds have run dry and we must act to provide $1 billion in more assistance to meet the needs of the nation this winter, funds that will be tapped by Upstate New York, which gets colder than many other states. My goal is to fund an appropriation of $4 billion and add in an additional $1 billion in emergency spending for a total of $5 billion,” Schumer said.  

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, the Inflation Reduction Act will generate savings for households across the county, from the health care and climate-related provisions of the law. At a high level, these savings could be $23,000 for a family of four, $17,000 for an elderly couple, $7,700 for a young couple, and $6,700 for a single parents 

Last Year’s Capital Region LIHEAP Stats:

Albany County:

Approximately 19,137 households received home energy assistance for the FY22 (21-22 season) so far, including approximately 1,090households receiving emergency assistance.

Rensselaer County:

Approximately 11,383 households received home energy assistance for the FY22 (21-22 season) so far, including approximately  1,921 households receiving emergency assistance.

Saratoga County:

Approximately 14,105 households received home energy assistance for the FY22 (21-22 season) so far, including approximately  3,036 households receiving emergency assistance.

Schenectady County:

Approximately  12,701 households received home energy assistance for the FY22 (21-22 season) so far, including approximately  848 households receiving emergency assistance.

The mission of the LIHEAP 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, as well as weatherization. In addition, individuals can receive assistance with their utility bills, which could see serious spikes if energy prices rise during winter months. This help can also cover the costs for bulk fuels, coal, pellets, wood, and other utilities. 

“Demolition of the Taylor apartment towers will fuel significant and long-lasting improvements to our downtown neighborhood, creating modern high quality affordable housing while opening up greater riverfront access for the residents of this neighborhood”,  Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said. “Thank you to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and our other federal officials whose support has helped move this project forward to provide high-quality, affordable housing to residents. The City of Troy is excited to help fund the demolition phase of this project through the city’s federal American Rescue Plan funds”.

Schumer said this program has been a lifeline for thousands of households across New York State during times of economic downturn and, more recently, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the program provides relief for New York 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 each and 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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