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As Winter Nears, Federal Heating Assistance Could Expire

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Winter weather will be upon the tri-state soon enough, but the money to help people heat their homes may not be on the way.

State and federal programs designed to assist homeowners could soon run out of money, as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.

Air Force veteran and retired photographer Jerry Jurman, of Syosset, keeps the heat way down. He’s struggling to pay rising fuel prices.

“I’m living on Social Security, and I don’t have any money coming in,” Jurman said. “It’s a very rough situation.”

Jurman is among 60,000 Long Islanders – elderly, disabled and low-income – relying on federal assistance to help pay heating bills. If the lame duck Congress doesn’t act swiftly, though, the nationwide funding will expire next month.

“I don’t want to give up the house,” Jurman said. “I’ve been here for 47 years, but I really don’t know. I’m 80 years old.”

To qualify for federal heat assistance, a household like Jurman’s must earl less than $49,000 a year. Those numbers are spiking, according to the non-profit Family and Children’s Association.

“The cold weather is moving in, we’re getting calls every day,” Dr. Pamela Clark, of the FCA, said. “They’re making choices between buying clothes and paying their oil bill, or they’re keeping heat. It can get very desperate.”

“Oil has actually increased about 30, 35 cents a gallon over this time last year,” Kevin Rooney, of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island, said.

Rooney doesn’t like what he sees – fluctuating prices that now seem to be stuck skyward.

“As the dollar collapses against the euro and the yen and other currencies, the price of crude oil goes up,” Rooney said.

Low-income families who make more than $49,000 may qualify for other non-profit heating help, including United Way’s Project Warmth.

Last season on Long Island, Project Warmth gave out 1,400 grants. This year, it predicts more than three times that number will apply.

CBS 2 reached out to New York’s senators – both Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand say they will work with Republicans to try to get Congress to restore the home energy funding.