Long Island’s only regional non-governmental emergency heating fund kicked into action Monday to help financially struggling families keep warm.
The program, which covers Nassau and Suffolk counties and is called “Project Warmth,” will be offered throughout the winter or until funds are exhausted.
Run by United Way, the program's assistance with an oil delivery or heat-related utility bill is aimed at allowing people to make room in their budgets to cover essentials like food or medication, those groups said in a statement.
“Project Warmth provides a critical service to the approximately 1,000 families, each year, who experience cost of living increases during the winter months,” said Theresa A. Regnante, president & CEO of United Way of Long Island.
“It is United Way of Long Island’s responsibility to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors stay safe and warm this season.”
To help get the message out, Nassau Inter-County Express/NICE Bus has placed Project Warmth billboards in all 350 of its buses throughout Nassau County.
“No family should have to worry about keeping the heat on for their loved ones this winter season. NICE is glad to support United Way and help educate Long Island’s families about this excellent support,” said Jack Khzouz, Chief Executive Officer of NICE Bus.
The program assists households that are not eligible for the emergency New York state program known as HEAP or who have exhausted that benefit.
Eligible applicants also include “residents who are experiencing a heating emergency, have a low or empty oil tank, have received a disconnection notice, and can demonstrate financial hardship,” United Way said in a statement. “This is especially critical for seniors, veterans, families with young children and people with disabilities.”
Since it started in 1994, Project Warmth has provided more than $10 million in emergency funding to more than 94,000 children and adults, United Way said.
The program is also supported by National Grid Foundation, National Grid, and PSEG Long Island.
People needing help can contact United Way of Long Island's 2-1-1 helpline by dialing 2-1-1, or outside of Nassau and Suffolk counties 1-888-774-7633, 7 days a week 9:00am – 5:00pm. They can also 211longisland.org or unitedwayli.org/projectwarmth.
People who want to support the program make a contribution on United Way of Long Island’s website at unitedwayli.org/projectwarmth.