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State officials say $15 million is available to help low-income New Yorkers who suffer from serious health issues exacerbated by heat to stay cool during the upcoming summer months.

Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the funding through the Home Energy Assistance Program provides an air conditioner to eligible households with a family member who suffers from a medical condition that can be aggravated by extreme heat. 

"We know there is hot weather ahead of us this summer, and no New Yorker should be left wondering whether they or their loved ones will be safe when temperatures spike," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "This critical funding reflects our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of the most vulnerable among us well ahead of the first heatwave of the season." 

To qualify for the federally funded program, applicants must meet existing eligibility criteria and income guidelines -which vary by household size -and have at least one member of the household that suffers from a medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat. For example, a household of four can earn up to $60,226 a year, or $5,019 a month, and still qualify for assistance.

Households located in government-subsidized housing with heat included in their rent will continue to qualify for a cooling benefit, provided someone living there suffers from a medical condition that can be aggravated by extreme heat. As a result, this year's funding for cooling assistance was sustained at $15 million to account for an increase in applicants likely to result from this expansion in eligibility.

Applications for cooling assistance are accepted at local departments of social services starting Monday, May 3 and extending through Aug. 30, or until funding runs out. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Residents may also apply online for regular heating assistance benefits at myBenefits.ny.gov.

The cooling assistance program provided about 6,800 benefits throughout the state last year. More than 28,000 households throughout New York have benefited from cooling assistance over the past five years.

In addition to cooling assistance, the agency is also extending the deadline to apply for regular and emergency HEAP through Aug. 31 or until the funds allocated are exhausted. A third emergency benefit is also available to eligible households experiencing a crisis or life-threatening heat or heat-related energy emergency.

Statewide demand for HEAP remains high. So far this season, nearly 1.4 million regular benefits were received by low to moderate income households, and nearly 64,000 emergency benefits were also issued to these households.

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