Erie County HEAP warms up for season

BUFFALO – The Erie County Department of Social Services’ Home Energy Assistance Program continues to accept applications for regular benefits for the 2013-2014 heating season.

Seven hundred and forty-nine face-to-face interviews were conducted with individuals who applied in person on opening day, Nov. 18, while an additional 335 applicants have taken advantage of the new online filing method available for the first time this year. Another 14,000 Early Outreach applications were received by the Department of Social Services prior to Nov. 18.

“No family or individual should be forced to live in an unheated home during the winter months, and HEAP assistance is available to prevent that hardship,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Eligible participants can receive up to $650 toward winter heating bills, and with online enrollment now available, I encourage all residents who need the assistance to register as soon as possible.”

Last winter, more than 1.4 million households in New York state, including 95,000 households in Erie County, received HEAP benefits. The HEAP season is shorter this year with the regular benefit component scheduled to close on Feb. 1.

Applications for emergency HEAP benefits will be accepted Thursday through March 17.

For more information on applying for HEAP, call 858-7644, or apply online at www.mybenefits.ny.gov.