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Pataki Promotes Heating Assistance Program for Low-Income Families

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – In anticipation of very high home heating bills this winter, Governor George Pataki says there will be some assistance for low-income residents in Western New York. Applications are available as of Tuesday.

Pataki appeared before a group of Buffalo senior citizens at the Salvation Army Center on Main Street Monday. He says last year, more than one million New Yorkers were eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program known as HEAP. Now, the Governor wants to make sure that low-income families and seniors sign up for the program through Erie County's Social Services Department starting Tuesday.

"A family of four, earning a little over $41,000 a year, could receive a heating assistance grant," Pataki said. "A family of two with an income of over $28,000 is eligible.

You don't have to be just a homeowner. If you are a renter, but you pay your own fuel costs, we can get you these grants. So, if you own your own home or condo, or rent an apartment, make sure you apply."

Commissioner Robert Doar is with the state's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. He says a number of citizens in Erie County received HEAP last year.

"Last year, it served some 75,000 residents of Erie County," Doar said. "The allocation for Erie County is $32 million."

While in Buffalo, the Governor also took the opportunity to promote his proposed nine point strategic energy action plan. He says, if approved, it would fight rising energy prices for this season, and keep gasoline and home heating oil affordable for consumers.

Pataki says his plan would also help the US begin to break its dependency on foreign oil.