Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at Kennedy Tower in Rochester to announce the $1 billion in emergency supplemental Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding she fought to secure in the recently passed continuing resolution. LIHEAP is a federal program that helps millions of Americans, including over 1 million New York households, heat their homes and will be especially critical this winter as residential energy costs are expected to rise drastically. This aid will deliver an estimated $60 million in support for New Yorkers to defray their home energy costs. Senator Gillibrand was joined by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, Executive Director of the Rochester Housing Authority Shawn Burr, Reverend Derrill Blue, Senior Pastor of Memorial AME Zion Church, and Dorothy and Dorian Hall, Community Leaders and Members of the Plymouth-Exchange Neighborhood Association at Kennedy Tower, a low-income housing development.
“LIHEAP provides a lifeline for thousands of low-income families in Monroe County,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As winter approaches and the cost of groceries and other essentials remains high, many simply cannot afford to pay exorbitant heating bills. Today, I’m proud to be delivering an estimated $60 million in emergency supplemental LIHEAP funding for our state. I fought for this additional money to ensure that New Yorkers who rely on LIHEAP assistance have what they need to heat their homes all winter and I will keep fighting to make sure every New Yorker can afford essentials and stay safe and warm.”
“The Rochester Housing Authority is proud to serve more than 27,000 residents and program participants in the five-county Greater Rochester area,” said Rochester Housing Authority Executive Director Shawn Burr. “As we head into the Rochester winter, we are keenly aware of rising heating and energy costs. Energy affordability is a particular hardship for our more than 7,000 residents and participants who either reside in our Public Housing units or participate in our Housing Choice Voucher program, and who would qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program. RHA is in full support of this critical program, and we are making a concerted effort to inform our residents and participants of this wonderful opportunity for economic energy relief. We are working with them to assist in applications and providing our full support.”
Senator Gillibrand has consistently worked to help New Yorkers afford their utilities. This $60 million in funding for LIHEAP in New York comes following a bipartisan, bicameral letter she joined in August calling on congressional leadership to provide emergency supplemental funding for LIHEAP.
Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use its statutory authority to ensure that Americans’ household energy bills would not be driven up by energy market manipulation in wholesale natural gas and electricity markets. Last year, she called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the ongoing energy crisis and ensure families that rely on LIHEAP had the resources they needed to stay warm through the winter. When millions of workers were laid off at the onset of the pandemic, Senator Gillibrand fought alongside her colleagues to deliver $900 million in LIHEAP funding in the CARES Act and an additional $4.5 billion in supplemental funding to the program as part of the American Rescue Plan. She is also a cosponsor of the Heating and Cooling Relief Act, which would expand LIHEAP to universalize energy assistance for all of those who need it.
Starting November 1st, households in Rochester can apply for HEAP benefits online at myBenefits.ny.gov, at the HEAP Local District Contact at the Monroe County Department of Human Services, or by mailing a completed application to the Monroe County Department of Human Services. Starting January 3rd, households can apply for additional funding through the emergency HEAP benefit in person or in writing through the Monroe County Department of Human Services. There is no online option.