ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — Lawmakers and housing officials are anticipating that residents will see the worst impact of inflation on their bills this winter.
In the wake of added costs, more funding is on the way for assistance programs to help cover portions of your bill, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday afternoon.
This expansion in funds is for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program — which New York State will be getting an extra $60 million to fund. The application process, however, can take months to complete.
When announcing this expansion in aid, Sen. Gillibrand claimed customers could see their heating and other energy bills jump as much as 40% this winter.
Some residents say this would cost them everything.
“It would put me out of the house and be homeless,” 75-Year-Old Addie Sturgis of Rochester said. “I’m serious, we have to remember as seniors we’re on a budget whether we want to be or not, and if we don’t get some help from the outside, we’ll have none at all.”
“Any older adult can call us at 244-8400,” LifeSpan CEO Ann Marie Cook stated. “We will go through eligibility with them, and I was just telling Shawn already we’re exceeding expectations compared to the previous year.”
Getting approved can take months, so applicants are urged to apply now.
“It takes several months to get from application to approval,” Cook said. “But we walk people through it. We’ll go to their homes if we have to. They simply need their RG&E Bill, their identification to show they actually live there, and we help them fill out the application.”
“I hope that they’re really going to give us what they say they will,” Sturgis responded. “Because they don’t usually give it to us.”
While the $60 million is allocated to the entire state, Sen. Gillibrand expects places like Monroe County to get their fair share to meet demand.
“Monroe County has 70,000 homes that utilize the LIHEAP Program,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “So, each of those homeowners can apply for money and they might be able to get several hundred dollars every year to defray the costs of heating.”
If you are already receiving other public benefits to cover food or medical bills, you still qualify to be in the LIHEAP Program and it doesn’t hurt your eligibility.
The non-profit LifeSpan is meant to help guide applicants 60 years or older. Anyone younger than that should call Catholic Families Center for help on their application.