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May 20, 2024 | Nancy Chen

Cooling Assistance Benefit: How to Apply For a Free Air Conditioner in NYC

You may be eligible to get a subsidy for installing a cooling system this summer.

New York is getting hotter as summer arrives, and everyone should have access to a cool environment. Our Chinese readers who are a part of our WeChat community have reached out to us asking about the cooling assistance benefit program. Here is who is eligible and how New Yorkers can receive subsidized air conditioning.

What is the cooling assistance benefit?

This is a benefit offered by the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) and Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) under the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Applications open on April 15 this year and end on August 31. The benefits are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

With the benefit, you will be subsidized up to $800 for a window, portable air conditioner, or fan, or up to $1,000 for an existing wall sleeve unit. The benefit covers the cost of the cooling system, administrative costs, labor, program support, materials, removal of the old system and also minor repairs needed to safely install the new one. 

Am I eligible for cooling assistance?

You need to meet all of the following requirements to be able to apply:

  • You’re eligible for HEAP or have already received it. Please see the “Regular HEAP Benefit” section on OTDA’s website to see its eligibility requirements.
  • Your household has at least one of these:
    • At least one person with a documented medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat. This must be verified in writing by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner;
    • Someone age 60 or older; or
    • Children under age 6
  • Someone in your household is a U.S. citizen or has satisfactory immigration status.
  • You do not have a working air conditioner or the one you have is five years old or more.
  • You didn’t get a HEAP-funded air conditioner in the last five years.
  • One of the following:
    • You get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Temporary Assistance (TA), or Code A Supplemental Security Income (SSI Living Alone).
    • You’re getting a Regular HEAP benefit of $21 or more in the current program year and live in government-subsidized housing (like NYCHA or Section 8) with heat included in your rent.
    • Your household’s gross monthly income is at or below the guidelines in this table:

Image credit to Access NYC’s website.

What documents do I need to provide?

You need to provide your proof of residence, proof of income, proof of identity, and proof of social security.

You also need to provide proof of your medical condition, unless there is someone in the household that is 60 years or older, or under age 6.

For more details on the documentation requirements, please visit Access NYC’s website

How to apply for cooling assistance

You have three options to apply — online, by mail, or in person. 

For the online option, you can apply for the cooling assistance program through HEAP on Access HRA and scan your documents through their APP (iPhone or Android). You can also check the status of your application on that same website.

If you want to apply by mail or in person, call 718-557-1399 to get an application sent to you. Select two vendors from the Participating Vendors/HEAP Applicant List. Include their information on your application. Then, you can either hand in the application to an office near you or mail your completed application to:

New York City Home Energy Assistance Program

P.O. Box 1401, Church Street Station

New York, NY, 10008

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