750K owners — many landlords — tap federal heating program

February 03, 2014 06:30PM

New York City’s Home Energy Assistance Program, HEAP, began in the 1980s with the goal of helping low-income New Yorkers pay their heating bills. But these days, the main beneficiaries appear to be landlords.

Most Big Apple tenants do not pay for heat, and as such property owners — generally not considered among New York City’s neediest — are the main recipients of heating bill assistance. This winter the number of payments issued has hit nearly 750,000, despite deep funding cuts over the past three years.

As the polar vortex has surged, more and more owners have sought assistance with their heat.

But applicants for HEAP assistance must prove they meet the program’s income requirements, which in some cases means foregoing taking actual tenants in apartment buildings to keep those numbers within an acceptable range, according to the New York Times. To qualify for HEAP, a household of four cannot have a gross monthly income of more than $4,182. [NYT]Julie Strickland