In 1981 the federal government consolidated a number of temporary energy assistance statutes into the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act (LIHEAA) to create the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). At first, federal funds were only available to cover the costs of heating for eligible households in cold-weather states. In 1984, Congress changed it to include home energy needs of eligible households for cooling, as well as heating costs.
WHO ADMINISTERS THE PROGRAM
On the federal level, the overall responsibility for the administration of LIHEAP lies with the Administration for Children and Families, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In New York State the program is known as HEAP and is administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Local county departments of social services are primarily responsible for the implementation and management of the program.
New York City
In New York City HEAP is administered by the Human Resources Administration (HRA). Throughout the five boroughs, there are several HEAP Field Offices that conduct outreach, intake and certification of applications.
The federal government annually appropriates “block grant” funds, the LIHEAP block grant, to the various states to assist eligible households to meet the costs of home energy. As with all block grant programs, these federal funds constitute the entire grant for the program, unless supplemented by state funds or other resources. Block grant programs are not entitlement programs and benefits are available to eligible and qualified applicants only for so long as funding remains available and/or the program remains open.
Summary of HEAP
HEAP is a federally funded energy program designed to help households with limited income pay for energy costs. Eligible households may receive a regular HEAP benefit, emergency benefit, heating equipment repair or replacement benefit and/or HEAP cooling assistance. The regular HEAP benefit amount depends on whether the household pays for heat directly (and if so the type of heat), or whether heat is included in the rent.
Eligibility is based on household size, residency, citizenship/immigration status, and income. Regular and emergency HEAP payments may be made directly to home energy suppliers on behalf of eligible households that pay directly for their energy costs. Most applicants in NYC who want to obtain a HEAP grant must submit an application when the program opens, typically in November. However, certain households may not be required to apply for HEAP, as they will be authorized through New York State’s automatic payment process.
Other Benefits under HEAP
EMERGENCY HEAP BENEFITS
Emergency assistance is available to HEAP eligible households that pay directly for heat. Emergency HEAP is also known as “E” HEAP in NYC. For more information, see below, Emergency HEAP.
HEAP CLEAN AND TUNE
The HEAP Clean and Tune benefit is available to eligible households to assist in the cleaning of primary heating equipment, and may also include chimney cleaning, minor repairs, installation of carbon monoxide detectors or programmable thermostats, if needed, to allow for the safe, proper and efficient operation of the heating equipment. For more information, see below, HEAP Clean and Tune.
HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT
The Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement component of the HEAP program is available to help eligible low-income home owners repair or replace furnaces, boilers and other direct heating components necessary to keep the home’s primary heating source functional. For more information, see below, Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement.
HEAP COOLING ASSISTANCE
The HEAP cooling assistance program provides assistance to low income households with the purchase and installation of an air conditioner or a fan. At least one member of the household must have a medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat to be eligible. For more information, see below, HEAP Cooling Assistance.