Come winter, when temperatures plummet and Long Island families who can’t afford to heat their homes don’t qualify for the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), where can they turn?
Situations such as this are when the nonprofit United Way of Long Island’s Project Warmth steps in, providing one-time grant payments made directly to oil and utility companies on behalf of local residents facing a heating emergency.
“Long Islanders are working hard for the wages they earn, but unfortunately those wages might not be enough to cover life’s basic costs,” says Theresa Regnante, president and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “Project Warmth provides a critical service to the approximately 1,000 families, each year, who experience cost-of-living increases during the winter months. It is United Way of Long Island’s responsibility to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors stay safe and warm this season.”
Lowering the temperature inside can pose serious health risks, especially to seniors and children. More than 30 percent of families on LI struggle to make ends meet, despite living above the poverty income threshold and being gainfully employed.
The United Way of Long Island is the local chapter of the 130-year-old global nonprofit that’s forged more than 100 partnerships with the goal of increasing impact and reducing costs of its many health, education and anti-poverty projects.
As the Island’s only nongovernmental, islandwide emergency heating fund, Project Warmth is available during winter months as a safety net for individuals and families who are facing energy insecurity and are unable to pay their heating bill. Many of these residents have already exhausted all other options for assistance and are forced to choose between heating their home or purchasing food and medicine.
Since its inception in 1994, Project Warmth has provided more than $10 million in emergency funding to more than 94,000 children and adults. Project Warmth will remain open until all funds are depleted.
For assistance from Project Warmth, contact United Way of Long Island by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-888-774-7633, 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for referrals to an intake site, or visit 211longisland.org.