UTICA — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made a stop in Utica on her tour across New York state to speak about the $1 billion in federal funding she recently secured for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Out of the $1 billion in funding, New York State will be allocated around $60 million.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP or HEAP, provides financial assistance to eligible households for heating and cooling their homes. As temperatures across the state continue to become colder, low-income residents in affected areas rely on LIHEAP to heat their homes throughout the fall and winter. According to the senator, Oneida County households received over $17 million through the LIHEAP program in 2021-2022.
Oil-producing countries both in and out of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, known as OPEC+, recently announced oil production will be reduced by 2 million barrels per day. The decision to reduce oil production will inevitably increase the cost of oil and heating.
“As these days get shorter and the weather gets colder, one of the areas of my focus is to make sure that all Utica residents not only have a safe home but can also heat their home, and one of the things that we worked so hard on is making sure that families can afford heating,” Gillibrand said. “With what happened with OPEC just a couple days ago, decreasing their production, we’re going to see a spike in home heating costs. There’s an estimate that Utica area customers will have their prices raised by as much as 39%. That could be hundreds of dollars for residents that they simply can not afford.”
Gillibrand has been touring the state to inform residents of the benefits of LIHEAP and the financial assistance they might be eligible for. In Utica, the senator was joined by local elected officials, as well as representatives from the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency.
“This program is going to be wonderful for our constituents. People worry so much about food and what they’re going to eat, and worrying about heat shouldn’t be another thing that’s on their plate,” said Oneida County Legislator Evon Ervin.
“We have families that are working two jobs to try and put food on their table, and being warm shouldn’t be a concern right now, so this program really helps families to stay warm,” Ervin added. “We don’t want fires breaking out in the winter because people are using unsafe measures to keep their families warm. So with HEAP and Mohawk Valley Community Action doing the program, this helps families to stay warm in these winter months and not worry about one more thing.”