Schumer: Boost federal program to help those who qualify pay their heating bills

To help Long Islanders fear insurmountable heat bills this winter, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday that he will push to speed up federal payments from a program for besieged families and seniors – and increase the total pool by $ 100 million.

Speaking in New Hyde Park, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader noted that payments from the Low Energy Home Energy Assistance program in previous years were delayed even though they were funded. “It’s my job to screw up the federal government before this concern shows up in real trouble,” he said.

“The heat is on,” he assured an audience of senior and local elected officials, including North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, State Senator Anna Kaplan representing the Great Neck, and Assemb. Gina Sillitti, from Manorhaven, all Democrats.

The federal home heating program, which helps pay bills from utilities or to weather homes and buy more energy-efficient refrigeration and heating units, is supported by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, he says, who qualify because their incomes are not higher than 60% of the state median.

“We could face, as Newsday itself reported, [a] 21% increase in winter heating bills, “Schumer said.

He fixed rising energy prices on worldwide bottlenecks, all derived from COVID-19. “The pandemic is still destroying supply chains across the globe,” he said.

Just last week, private customers across the country were warned to expect gas heating bills to jump about 21% or $ 165 this winter, while Long Island customers could see an increase of up to 26% or $ 215, industry predicted and civil servants.

And just Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that households will spend 54% more on propane, 43% more on heating oil, 30% more on natural gas and 6% more on electric heating than they did last winter.

About 700 applications in just the first two weeks of this year’s enrollment period have already been submitted — 20% above last year’s pace — estimated Jeffrey Reynolds, CEO of the Garden City-based nonprofit Family and Children’s Association. “We need this now more than ever,” he said.

Last year, 18,839 Nassau households were helped by the program, 1,000 of which received emergency assistance, meaning they were in danger of closing, Schumer said. Demand was more than three times as high in Suffolk: 62,714 households benefited, with 7,700 emergencies.

Although the extra $ 100 million has not yet been approved by Congress, Schumer said it “usually gets bipartisan support because there is a need for heat in Republican and Democratic states.”

Other elected officials also stressed the importance of the program.

“We need to be ready and step up and help our most vulnerable neighbors so they don’t get out in the cold with bills they can’t pay,” Kaplan said.

Sillitti said: “It doesn’t matter what zip code you live in, people hurt everywhere.”

For New York, Schumer estimated that a single person with an income of $ 31,000 or less is eligible; for a family of four, the amount is $ 60,000. Nassau’s median income was $ 116,100 in 2019 dollars, from 2015 to 2019; Suffolk amounted to $ 101,031, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Competition from the energy tire Europe is pushing up the prices of natural gas and crude oil, experts say. So is the rebounding economy.

“As we have moved beyond what we expect to be the deepest part of the pandemic – related economic downturn, energy demand growth has generally outpaced supply growth,” EIA Executive Steve Nalley said in a statement.

With Reece T. Williams

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