A growing number of New Yorkers will be able to beat the heat this summer.

On Monday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that $15 million is available through the Home Energy Assistance Program to help low-income New York individuals and families who lack air conditioning stay cool during the upcoming summer months.

"For too many New Yorkers, relief from the stifling heat that summer brings each year is prohibitively expensive," Hochul said. "By expanding the eligibility guidelines for cooling assistance, we can help ensure that more low-income and disadvantaged households have the means to stay comfortable and safe when temperatures inevitably rise."

Mike Groll- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Mike Groll- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
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Gov. Hochul ordered the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the agency administering HEAP, to expand the eligibility for the cooling component to more effectively assist those in need by including all income-eligible New Yorkers, officials say.

"Summer inevitably brings sweltering temperatures that are not only uncomfortable for New Yorkers lacking the ability to cool their homes, but also pose a significant risk of heat-related health emergencies. The expanded eligibility for cooling assistance will be a welcome relief for low-income households that struggle to moderate the heat during the hottest days of summer," Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said.

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Prior to this year, the cooling component of HEAP was only available to income-eligible households with an individual suffering from a documented medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat.

To qualify for cooling assistance under the amended guidelines, applicants must meet HEAP eligibility criteria and income thresholds, which vary by household size.

A family of four may have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,249 or an annual gross income of $62,983.

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"This $15 million in federal home energy assistance will ensure that New York families and seniors struggling to pay the bills can stay cool during the hot summer months. I am proud to have turned up the heat on the feds to get them to deliver this emergency assistance to keep seniors and families safe and with the air conditioning on in their homes," Senator Charles Schumer said.

The program covers the cost of an air conditioning unit and installation. Under the expanded eligibility, the cooling component is expected to serve up to 20,000 households throughout the state.

"No person or family should ever go without adequate air conditioning, especially in the coming summer months. I'm proud to announce this $15 million in funding that will help low-income families access cooling assistance," Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said. "This is a safety issue, and as New York continues facing extreme weather, we must ensure that every person has access to reliable, sufficient heating and cooling systems to stay safe at home."

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Applications for cooling assistance will be accepted at local departments of social services starting Monday, May 2, and extending through August 31, or until funding runs out. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis

Over 36,000 households throughout New York have benefited from cooling assistance over the past five years, officials say.

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