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New York’s cooling assistance program reaches a halt amid heat wave

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York
Saul Loeb
Getty Images
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

New York's federally funded cooling assistance benefit — The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) — has seen a 200% increase in demand since last summer forcing the program to stop accepting applications.

HEAP gives seniors living alone, on fixed incomes, or with health issues, help cooling their home.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide extended assistance to the program. The urgent request was made on Sunday after several days of extreme heat — with temperatures in the high 90s.

“The bottom line here is that it really should be no sweat for the feds to help New York contend with this unprecedented demand for cooling assistance,” Schumer said a statement.

Schumer is also pushing for $1 billion increase in federal funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to prepare for future extreme weather.

“In the upcoming federal budget, I will be pushing for a billion dollar increase nationally, so that New York can tap more of these dollars, build up its account and keep this critical assistance going,” Schumer said.

Funding is not the only way to combat the issue, Schumer added. He said climate change — which makes the temperature hotter due to carbon emissions from fossil fuel-powered buildings and transportation — must be addressed.

“We cannot ignore that these heat waves last longer and that weather overall is more erratic and unpredictable,” Schumer said. “That is why, in addition to supporting federal programs that help us beat the heat or endure erratic temperatures, we must also stay focused on addressing climate change at the national and global level, which I will continue to fight for.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.