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Before heatwave, program to help low-income New Yorkers stay cool ran out of funds

Jul 25, 2022 1:45 pm

Maria Parazo Rose reports for New York Focus that weeks ago the program to help low-income New Yorkers stay cool ran out of money and stopped taking new applicants. Now the state is faced with a major heatwave without those in need able to access the Heat Energy Assistance Program’s cooling assistance program. “New York State does not currently have the resources to expand cooling assistance to include a billing assistance component," a spokesperson for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance said. The program’s budget was increased this year from $15 million to a record $23 million, but still ran out before the heat arrived. The program has never shut down this early, state officials said. That may be in part because New York eliminated a requirement this year that applicants show medical need. The story says that heat has killed more Americans than all other weather-related disasters combined over the last three decades. A July 2019 heat wave sent nearly 1200 New Yorkers to an emergency room. Kira Pospesel, a Commissioner at Greene County Department of Social Services who works on the HEAP block grant advisory council, said New York spends more money fighting off the cold, rather than extreme heat. “You have to pay for many more months for heat and we can’t have people freeze,” she said. Read more about this story at New York Focus.

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