April 16, 2013 — Getting a jump on the summer heat, New York's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced on April 1 that it is taking applications for LIHEAP cooling assistance. The program offers a limited number of air conditioners to households meeting both income and medical requirements.
It's one of the earlier start dates for a cooling program, with most starting in June or July. Statistics show that New York's average temperature in April is about 60°F. That makes it a bridge between the 48°F average of March and the more summer like 71°F of May.
"As the summer months approach, we want to ensure that those with existing health issues are prepared to safely cope with high temperatures and avoid what can often be life-threatening situations for some," said the office's Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Proud. "This effort focuses on assisting some of the most medically vulnerable New Yorkers, including senior citizens and children."
This year's cooling program is supported by $3 million from New York's LIHEAP. Eligible households can have incomes at or below 60 percent of the state's median income, and one occupant must have a documented medical condition exacerbated by heat. Additionally, households already containing an air conditioner that is less than five years old, or that have received a LIHEAP-funded AC unit in the past 10 years, are not eligible.
According to its 2013 LIHEAP plan, the cooling program represents about 1 percent of New York's federal grant. It is run on a first-come-first-serve basis. The program will run until funds are exhausted or August 30, whichever comes first. The plan also says it could be extended if it is determined sufficient federal funds exist to do so. Over the years, New York has only sporadically run a cooling program.
People can apply for the cooling program at their Local Department of Social Services.
Sources: Media reports, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance