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Sen. Gillibrand promotes LIHEAP investments during visit to Albany City Hall

City and county officials join Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for a LIHEAP press conference at Albany City Hall, December 12, 2022
Dave Lucas
City and county officials join Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for a LIHEAP press conference at Albany City Hall, December 12, 2022

Saying “Going without utilities is not an option,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by Albany City Hall Monday to spread the word about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

With the cost of home heating on the rise, Gillibrand spoke at City Hall about the availability of federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

“As the days get shorter, and the winter and the weather is getting colder, we need to make sure that every New Yorker could actually heat their home, we need to make sure that our most vulnerable population our seniors, families with children, are able to keep their houses heated during this cold time," said Gillibrand. "National Grid, the dominant utility in the Capital Region, has predicted that 39% of their customers will have an increase in the rate they will have to pay for their heating, and they will be paying over $23 more than they did last year. Some people simply cannot afford that, especially after these last few years of COVID when many people have been struggling to make ends meet.”

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, also a Democrat, says people shouldn't have to worry about staying warm this season.

“We're actually looking at probably a 30% increase from what we saw last year," said McCoy. "And just let me put it in this point of view. In November of 2019, we had roughly 479 applicants for HEAP for the month of November, this month in November that just passed, we had 1300 people apply for HEAP. 1300. That's more than double, up 170% from 2019. And we haven't hit the winter months yet.”

Gillibrand says Albany County households received over $8.6 million dollars through LIHEAP 2021-22. She adds New York state has received $412.5 million dollars in LIHEAP funding for this winter after Congress added $63 million in additional funding to the program in September due to the rising inflation rate.

Gillibrand says the federal funding compliments New York’s record $918 million investment in the state’s Home Energy Assistance Program provided in the state budget this year.

“So this bill does not change the qualifications because right now, the people who qualify don't even apply," Gillibrand said. "So one of the challenges we have is that there's more people than the money will actually cover for all the people who actually qualify. So one of the challenges is just getting the information about how to apply and who qualifies into the public.”

Gillibrand urges everyone struggling with heating bills to file an application.

Here's a link to apply.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.