Flanked by human services representatives, Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks about home heating costs during a press conference in downtown Plattsburgh Thursday. Photo: Cara Chapman

Jones introduces bill to create home energy relief fund for middle incomes

Home heating costs are expected to increase this winter. This puts people on fixed incomes in a difficult situation, especially if they do not qualify for government assistance.

Assemblyman Billy Jones was in Plattsburgh yesterday. At a press conference at Betty Little Arts Park, he called for state and federal actions to reduce heating costs this winter.

Cara ChapmanJones introduces bill to create home energy relief fund for middle incomes

Flanked by Social Services representatives, Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks about home heating costs at a news conference in downtown Plattsburgh on Thursday.  Photo: Cara Chapman

Flanked by Social Services representatives, Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks about home heating costs at a news conference in downtown Plattsburgh on Thursday. Photo: Cara Chapman

It was cold and gray in downtown Plattsburgh Thursday morning, a reminder that families in the north of the country need to start turning up their thermostats. It comes at a time when National Grid – a major home energy provider in the north of the country – predicts home heating bills could rise by almost 40% compared to last year.

“None of us here want to see families getting cold this winter,” Jones said. “Any of our elders, any of our families, any of our residents, friends and neighbors who may be in trouble. But, let’s face it, everyone is struggling… inflation, prices have gone up, and heating oil is certainly no exception.”

Create a fund, suspend taxes

Jones introduces a bill that would do two things. First, it would create a $3 million fund to help middle-income families pay for fuel. The program would be open to people who do not qualify for assistance, such as the federal program known as HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program). This includes ALICE working families (limited assets, limited income, employees).

“There are thousands of ALICE families in our area who make decisions every day about paying the heating bill rather than going to the grocery store or keeping the car on the road,” said John Bernardi, President and CEO of the United Way of the Adirondack Region Inc.

Jones’ bill would also suspend taxes on home heating fuels such as coal, wood, propane and kerosene. It also covers “any other fuel when used for residential heating purposes”. The suspension would remain in effect until July.

Increase in demand for help

Bernardi said social service organizations like her goal are to be a buffer for families so they don’t have to choose between necessities like food and transportation. These agencies and nonprofits are already seeing an increase in demand for help with home heating costs.

JCEO Community Outreach Program Director Lisa Goodrow said her organization helped around 50 families who were not eligible for HEAP get fuel last year.

“I think it will almost double or even triple this year…the applications, at least, from people who are not eligible for HEAP.”

Franklin County Office of Aging Director Michelle Breen said her agency is already receiving an influx of calls from older adults seeking help.

“Just this week alone we had someone call us asking about HEAP and she said, ‘I never imagined calling Office for the Aging asking for SNAP and HEAP help. “”

State actions

The State Assembly is not due to resume its sessions until January.

But in addition to a vote on his bill, Jones also wants HEAP to get more funding and expand so more New Yorkers are eligible. US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have called for similar measures in recent weeks.

Jones is also calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to take action.

Asked to comment, his office pointed out how the state sets HEAP income guidelines at the maximum amount allowed by the federal government, or nearly $66,000 a year for a family of four.

Additionally, the state has sent letters to utility company executives urging them to take action to mitigate commodity price hikes and fuel supply disruptions, and improve communications with customers. .

#Jones #introduces #bill #create #home #energy #relief #fund #middle #incomes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *