Commissioner Towns Announces Air Conditioners Available for Low-Income New Yorkers At Risk During a Heat Wave

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NEW YORK, NY (07/20/2011)(readMedia)-- New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns today announced assistance for low-income New Yorkers whose health issues pose a medical emergency during the extended period of hot weather forecast for the state in the coming days.

"A heat wave is a life and death matter for some New Yorkers with serious underlying medical issues," Commissioner Towns said. "Senior citizens and children are especially susceptible to heat-related illness, and it is important that our most vulnerable know what government is doing to protect them."

"Beating the heat shouldn't break the bank for New Yorkers," said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. "I strongly urge eligible families and seniors to take advantage of this program to help lower the costs of cooling their home. As this record breaking heat wave moves across New York, it's absolutely essential that seniors aren't faced with the choice of cooling their home or putting food on the table."

In order to protect vulnerable New Yorkers, New York State has set aside $3 million in funding through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that will provide air conditioning units for more than 3,700 households.

Eligibility for the program is determined by:

1) LIHEAP low-income guidelines. (For a four-person household, the maximum gross annual income to qualify is approximately $48,000.)

2) Having at least one household member who has been diagnosed with a chronic or acute medical condition which is aggravated by exposure to extreme heat situations.

3) A doctor providing written documentation (dated within the last six months) that air-conditioning assistance is critical to prevent a heat emergency.

Households that have a working air conditioner or have received one from the State in the last 10 years are not eligible.

The cooling program is administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) with funding provided from the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds, through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

HCR issued a Request for Proposals to solicit vendors to administer the cooling program on the local level. Twenty-four awardees were selected from across the state, with awards ranging from $1.75 million to serve all of New York City to $5,000 to provide services in smaller Upstate counties.

Under the terms of the grant, one air conditioner will be awarded to an eligible household or dwelling unit; installation and labor are included. Grants do not include an additional HEAP cash benefit to cover the cost of operating the air conditioning unit.

For the full list of local cooling program administrators see the attached file: NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Emergency Cooling Program County Coverage.

Questions regarding HEAP program should be directed to local agencies listed above or the NYS HEAP Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

Those who want to see if they qualify under HEAP's income guidelines should visit