Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Just as winter is setting in with bitter cold, the state is offering some crucial help for people to stay warm.
Emergency applications are now being accepted by county social services departments for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
In order to qualify for assistance, the applicant must have a legitimate emergency – a 72-hour notice for shutoff, low bulk fuel, or no power – and less than $2,000 to pay for heat.
Onondaga County already saw more than 2,100 applications during the regular HEAP period from mid-November to the end of December. That total does not include people who receive Food Stamps, who automatically receive HEAP.
The department of social services is expecting around 2,000 to apply for the emergency round of funding.
"If need be, we can put a hold on the amount, guarantee the money right over to the vendor and alleviate that emergency immediately and it's done the same day the client applies,” said HEAP Coordinator Marie Grace.
HEAP applications will be accepted until March 15. The money is not guaranteed for that entire period.
The program is dependent on how much money is used and how much is left through the winter season.
Anyone who has received the regular HEAP benefits and needs emergency benefits can call the agency’s office at (315) 435-8295. The same number is available for those who want to see if they qualify for HEAP 's regular benefits.