Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced assistance for low-income New Yorkers whose health issues pose a medical emergency during the extended period of hot weather forecasted for the state in the coming days last week.
"The late spring and early summer have already brought several heat waves, which can be life-and-death matters for New Yorkers with serious medical conditions," Governor Cuomo said. "Senior citizens and children are especially susceptible to heat-related illness, and this initiative will provide low-income homes with much-needed air conditioners so that New Yorkers have the assistance they need to stay cool and healthy."
In order to protect vulnerable New Yorkers, New York State has set aside $3 million in funding through the federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
"Summer heat can be dangerous for many New Yorkers," said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. "I strongly urge eligible families and seniors to take advantage of this program to help keep their homes safe and comfortable. As this heat wave moves across New York, it’s absolutely essential that seniors aren’t put at risk because they can't afford to keep their homes cool."
"Working with our non-profit partners across the state, we are happy to provide some relief to those needy New Yorkers with medical conditions," said Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), which administers LIHEAP. "But if you find yourself without air conditioning and in a true heat emergency this summer, please do not wait: head to your nearest local cooling center."
Eligibility for the program is determined by:
1. LIHEAP low-income guidelines. (For a four-person household, the maximum gross annual income to qualify is approximately $49,500.)
2. Having at least one household member who has been diagnosed with a chronic or acute medical condition which is aggravated by exposure to extreme heat situations.
3. A doctor providing written documentation (dated within the last six months) that air-conditioning assistance is critical to prevent a heat emergency.
Households that have a working air conditioner or have received one from the State in the last 10 years are not eligible.
The cooling program is administered by HCR with funding provided from the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds, through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). HCR's network of 63 local Weatherization agencies will provide delivery and installation of cooling program services, and funds have been allocated to ensure coverage in each of the state’s 62 counties.
These agencies will accept applications, determine eligibility, and oversee the installation of the air-conditioning units. Under the terms of the grant, one air conditioner will be awarded to an eligible household or dwelling unit, with installation and labor included. Grants do not include an additional HEAP cash benefit to cover the cost of operating the air conditioning unit.
Westchester residents can call (914)375-7887 for more information.