UTICA, NY-- With frigid temperatures forecasted over the next week, its expected that more people will be applying for heating assistance.
The Home Energy Assistance Program, (HEAP) helps low-income people pay to heat their homes. The program is federally funded and distributed by the state.
In Oneida County the number of people applying for assistance has decreased in the past three years.
December 2015: 1,400
December 2016: 1,100
December 2017: 1,200
John Viscosi, HEAP Coordinator for Oneida County, said the number of applications could vary each year depending on the weather. He said colder temperatures earlier in the winter could change how long the program will last that particular season.
"It just depends when the money runs out," he said. "If it's exceptionally cold throughout the season they might run out faster."
Viscosi added that the Emergency HEAP component opens Jan. 2
"So people that are in a shut off situation, or they're very low on fuel and have already gotten regular HEAP, they can also apply for emergency."
He said if the extra expense is too much to handle, it's worth applying for the program.
"We get these extreme cold snaps and a lot of times people will use a lot more fuel, whether it's gas natural gas, electricity to run the furnace, if that's running a lot then they're going use more and it could create large bills," Viscosi said. "So the HEAP can really help them stretch their energy dollars and keep their place, their house, a temperature rather than turn on the thermostat that something that is uncomfortable they might be able to keep it a little warmer because they can stretch their dollars".
For more information or to apply visit: https://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap