Annual government heating assistance for the needy increases slightly for this winter in St. Lawrence County.
Applications for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for regular benefits in the county will open Nov. 18.
The county Department of Social Services will begin accepting regular applications for HEAP that day, or earlier if an applicant received an early application in September from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance because of the presence of an elderly or vulnerable person in the household.
Anyone else who wants to apply can call 379-2303 on or after Nov. 18 to receive an application.
The emergency component of HEAP will open on Jan. 2. HEAP customers who receive regular fuel benefits in November will not be eligible to apply for an emergency fuel benefit until Jan. 2.
HEAP customers who need electricity to run their furnaces and receive a disconnect notice also will not be able to apply for the emergency benefit until Jan. 2.
The Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement benefits have been suspended for the upcoming heating season.
The state has tentatively scheduled a HEAP closing date of March 17 for regular and emergency benefits.
This coming heating season, eligible applicants may receive at most one regular benefit, one emergency fuel benefit, and one emergency electric benefit.
The income guidelines for the 2013-2014 heating assistance program are listed below, with household size followed by maximum monthly income to be eligible.
These benefits are slightly higher than those from last year, in a one-person household up $37, in a two-person household up $48, a three-person household up $60, and so on.
Households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) or Temporary Assistance do not ordinarily need to apply for HEAP.
In addition to HEAP applications being available at the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services in Canton, applications are expected to be available at Catholic Charities in Ogdensburg, the St. Vincent De Paul Society in Massena, the Neighborhood Center in Gouverneur, and the mybenefits.ny.gov website.
The HEAP regular benefit for oil, kerosene, and propane is calculated to be between $600 and $650 this year. The regular HEAP benefit for St. Lawrence Gas, Massena Electric, and National Grid is calculated to be between $400 and $450. This year’s regular HEAP benefit for wood, pellets, and coal is to be between $500 and $550. Applicants who cut their own wood and need a HEAP benefit must either choose a wood vendor or have the HEAP benefit applied to their utility bill. The emergency HEAP benefit for oil, kerosene, and propane is calculated to be $600 ($500 for wood, $400 for natural gas, and $560 for electric heat). Emergency benefits will be based on income, household size, and available resources.