December 15, 2009

With Dropping Temperatures And Rising Energy Costs, Gillibrand Helps Secure $5.1 Billion For Home Heating Assistance

Introduces New Legislation To Make Home Heating More Affordable With New Tax Credits and Low Interest Loans

Washington, DC - With dropping temperatures and rising energy costs, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped secure $5.1 billion for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).  This matches last year's investment - the largest amount of funding Congress has ever allocated to help seniors and low-income families heat their homes during the winter months. Senator Gillibrand is also introducing new legislation to provide low interest loans and tax credits to help cover the costs of energy, as well as providing a guidebook for families and businesses to help navigate federal grant programs and take advantage of funding available to heat and weatherize homes, schools and businesses.

"No New York family should ever be left in the cold," Senator Gillibrand said. "But with the bad economy, job losses and rising energy costs, too many New York families struggle to heat their homes and stay warm. My legislation will help more families afford heating with new tax credits and affordable loans. And my guidebook will help every eligible family and business take advantage of the resources that are available to them to heat and weatherize homes and businesses - making them more energy efficient and saving millions."

"Older New Yorkers on fixed incomes tend to be hit especially hard by home heating costs as they use about the same amount of energy as younger people, yet they devote nearly twice of their total spending to heating their homes.  These cost-saving resources outlined by Senator Gillibrand can be critical to helping older citizens stay healthy and safe this winter," said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director.  "We also encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of energy-saving tips and checklists that are available to help them save money on their energy bills such as our toolkit on www.createthegood.org."

The cost of heating oil in New York is the second highest in the nation at $2.46 per gallon. Approximately 3 million New Yorkers rely on heating oil to heat their homes in the winter - making New York particularly vulnerable to shortages and price hikes as a result of extremely high demand.

Nearly $320 million was provided in nearly 1.3 million direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of nearly 415,000 from two years prior.

  • In New York City, over $40 million was provided in over 740,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year -- an increase of over 280,000 from two years prior.
  • In Western New York, nearly $65 million was provided in nearly 130,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of nearly 25,000 from two years prior.
  • In the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region, over $30 million was provided in over 70,000 direct checks to New Yorkers last year - an increase of over 13,000 from two years prior.
  • In Central New York, over $45 million was provided in over 85,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year -- an increase of nearly 19,000 from two years prior.
  • In the Southern Tier, over $25 million was provided in nearly 44,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of nearly 10,000 from two years prior.
  • Inthe Capital Region, over $35 million was provided in over 66,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of over 16,000 from two years prior.
  • In the North Country, over $25 million was provided in nearly 40,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of nearly 9,000 from two years prior.
  • Inthe Hudson Valley, nearly $25 million was provided in nearly 65,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of over 27,000 from two years prior.
  • On Long Island, over $17 million was provided in over 40,000 direct checks to New Yorkers to heat their homes last year - an increase of over 15,000 from two years prior.

1. $5.1 Billion for the Home Energy Assistance ProgramOver the weekend, Senator Gillibrand helped pass the Omnibus Appropriations bill for next year, including $5.1 billion in HEAP funding - the largest amount Congress has ever allocated for the program that helps seniors and low-income families heat their homes for the winter.

New York State is expected to receive more than $475 million in HEAP grants and more than $60 million for disaster relief and other emergencies.

2. Tax Credits and Low Interest Loans to Make Home Heating Affordable
Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Home Heating Cost Relief Act to provide tax credits worth $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for families to help cover the costs of home heating oil, gas and propane. The legislation, which was authored and introduced in the House by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of Long Island, would also create a low-interest loan program to provide up to $5,000 in loans at 1 percent interest to help families weatherize their homes by upgrading caulking, weather stripping doors and windows, making furnaces more energy efficient, installing new insulation and other energy efficiency measures. Any individual whose income is under $100,000 or $200,000 for joint filers is eligible.

"I was pleased to reintroduce this legislation at the beginning of the Congress and am happy that Senator Gillibrand saw the importance of the issue and will introduce similar legislation in the Senate," said Congresswoman McCarthy.  "The average family will pay thousands of dollars this year to heat their home.  Many homes, particularly older homes, need new windows, new burners, and better insulation in order to be more energy efficient.  The loan program will offer many homeowners the opportunity to make necessary home improvements to drive down their energy costs."

3. The Gillibrand Guidebook to Help New Yorkers Heat and Weatherize Homes
To help every eligible New Yorker take advantage of resources that are available to them, Senator Gillibrand is providing a guidebook to navigate grants and loans that can help heat and weatherize more homes, schools and businesses.

Last year, approximately 2.6 million New York households qualified for HEAP. And while nearly 1.3 million seniors and low-income families depended on HEAP funds to heat their homes last year, over a million eligible households were left in the cold.

Additionally, the Economic Recovery Act that Senator Gillibrand helped pass earlier this year delivered $500 million for New York to weatherize homes, schools and businesses and make them more energy efficient. Weatherizing homes can help families cut nearly one-third of their energy costs on average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Senator Gillibrand's guidebook can help every eligible New Yorkers take advantage of HEAP benefits, as well as help local governments, families and businesses navigate federal grant applications to take advantage of weatherization grants to make homes, schools and businesses more energy efficient and save on energy costs.

Senator Gillibrand's Guide to Home Heating and Weatherization Resources is available here.


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