NEW YORK (WWTI) — Funding is now available to help low-income families that have fallen behind on their utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding was made possible by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and is available to households who do not qualify for the utility assistance offered by New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. However, residents must be eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program and be behind on their heating utility bills to apply.

The program has $150 million available for a one-time payment to HEAP-eligible households from now until September of 2022, or until all the funds are used. The Federal funding serves as a way to lessen the stress on families as the moratorium on utility disconnections comes to an end in December. Residents will be able to receive up to $10,000 to pay off their accumulated heating bills through the program.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, about 83,000 HEAP recipients had fallen behind on their utility bills as of March 2021, with households owing $1,370 on average or roughly $113 million statewide. 

Governor Kathy Hochul said the funding will benefit New York residents of all ages.

“The global health crisis has brought into focus the struggles of so many New Yorkers, including tens of thousands of households that fell drastically behind on utility bills,” Governor Hochul said. “This critical assistance will help these households pay down utility bills that accumulated at the height of the pandemic and help them avoid potential disconnection in the coming months.” 

The requirements to be eligible for the funding can be found on the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s website.