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COLUMN: From the legislature - HEAP offers heating assistance to county residents

— Attention Lysander and Van Buren seniors – Do you find it difficult to cover the cost of heating your home in the winter? Costs to heat our homes are constantly increasing.

The good news is there is help. Whether you are a senior citizen living on a fixed income or a single family on a budget, the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth oversees the Home Energy Assistance Program more commonly referred to as HEAP. HEAP is a federally funded program that issues heating benefits to reduce a household’s annual energy cost. HEAP also offers an emergency benefit for households in a heat or heat-related energy emergency. Additionally, HEAP offers a furnace repair and/or replacement benefit for households with inoperable heating equipment. The program may help you pay for: electricity, gas, oil, coal, propane, wood or kerosene. Even if your heat and utilities are included in your rent, HEAP may be able to assist you.

The HEAP program is administered locally by the Onondaga County Aging & Youth department. If you have questions about enrolling in the program or determining eligibility, you can contact the local HEAP unit at 435-2362. Additional information about HEAP and other programs is available at ongov.net. You can also check your potential eligibility for HEAP and a wide range of economic supports at: myBenefits.ny.gov.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, two informational meetings will be held to discuss the HEAP program, determine eligibility and register qualified recipients. The first meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lysander Town Hall, 8220 Loop Road in Radisson and the second meeting will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at PEACE, Inc. West Family Resource Center, 93 Syracuse St. in Baldwinsville. A third meeting will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Baldwinsville Public Library.

If you are unable to make any of the aforementioned meetings, please contact the County Legislature at 435-2070 for a list of additional meetings that are taking place around the county.

Brian May and Derek Shepard are Onondaga County legislators representing districts 1 and 13, respectively.

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