Urges Congress to Pass 2011 Budget with Full Funding
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an additional $69 million to New York in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) block grant funds—the largest additional sum in the country.
“As winter settles in, these additional funds have an immediate and meaningful impact on the livelihood of struggling Western New Yorkers, allowing them to stay warm and safe all season long,” said Congressman Higgins. “While this supplementary funding is critical, Congress also needs to step up and pass a budget that includes the full funding of HEAP so that our seniors and families can receive the heating assistance that they very much need.”
It is necessary that Congress approve full funding to prevent program closure in January—the coldest part of the year—and accommodate for the projected increase in qualifying applicants.
Congressman Higgins has been a vocal advocate to both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress urging the final budget to maintain the full $5.1 billion in HEAP funding. To date, he has sent three letters:
- On December 1st, a letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, Minority Leader Boehner and Ranking Member Lewis.
- On September 24th, a letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader Boehner and Minority Whip Cantor.
- On March 19th, a letter was sent to Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Tiart.
This funding is directed to low-income families and seniors on a fixed income to help them heat their homes. During the 2009-2010 HEAP season, the program provided 203,237 benefits totaling $51.9 million in assistance to residents in Erie County and 31,818 benefits totaling $9,168,689 for Chautauqua County seniors and families.
Eligibility for heating assistance is based on income and household size. For further information visit:
A program under the directive of HHS, the mission of HEAP is to assist those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs. Funds are distributed based on each State’s weather and low income population.