NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4876
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for
the automated identification of affordability program participants
For the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to coordi-
nate with utility companies on automated file matching to identify
eligible affordability program participants.
Section 1. Amends the social services law by adding a new section
131-ss. Section 2. Sets the effective date.
New York's utilities offer Energy Affordability Programs (EAPs) that
follow guidance from the New York Public Service Commission which
requires utilities to set low-income program discount levels that keep
customer energy burden at or below a target goal of 6% of household
income. EAPs offer customers a monthly bill credit using a tiered
discount structure that considers whether the customer is a heating or a
Utility customers who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
grants paid to the utility on the customer's behalf are automatically
enrolled in the utility corporation's Energy Affordability Programs
(EAP). However, not all low-income customers receive HEAP even if they
qualify to receive it. The New York City Human Resources Administration
(HRA) conducts a file matching process to capture customers who partic-
ipate in other qualifying programs, including:
*Supplemental Security Income
*Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
*Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program *Veterans' Disability Program
*Veterans' Surviving Spouse Pension
*Child Health Plus
The inclusion of these programs and the corresponding file-matching
process dramatically increases participation in EAP programs. Outside of
New York City, customers are largely responsible for self-identifying
for being eligible for the program - limiting the number of those who
benefit. An automated process is also more efficient and less costly to
administer than identifying customers on a case-by-case manner. Making
file matching a statewide practice is a more efficient utilization of
state and utility resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on New
Yorkers, especially those who were already struggling to make ends meet.
AARP recently estimated that 1.2 million New York households are in
energy utility arrears, totaling more than $1.7 billion
1. It is essen-
tial that utility customers throughout the state are connected to any
and all assistance programs for which they are eligible. This legis-
lation would require OTDA to coordinate with utilities to automate that
process in a manner similar to the HRA process in New York City. This
will help ensure that more low-income New Yorkers are receiving the
assistance to which they are entitled.
RACIAL JUSTICE IMPACT:
People of color and low-income New Yorkers are disproportionately
impacted by rising utility costs. Specifically, redlining and housing
discrimination has resulted in Black and Latino households paying more
in utilities than their White counterparts. Several studies have shown
that low-quality housing stock due to racial segregation is a major
driving factor of this disparity
2. This bill will create a program to
automatically match New Yorkers who receive certain public benefits with
Energy Affordability Programs.
GENDER JUSTICE IMPACT:
2022: A9099; passed in the Assembly.
This act shall take effect immediately.
1 AARP. "AARP and PULP: Governor Hochul Must Address Utility Arrears
Crisis in Budget Amendment."
2 Constantine Kontokosta, Vincent Reina, Bartozs Bonczak, "Energy Cost
Burdens for Low-Income and Minority Households: Evidence From Energy
Benchmarking and Audit Data in Five U.S. Cities," Journal of the Ameri-
can Planning Association 86 no. 1, (Sept. 2019): 89-105,
HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1080/01944363.2019.1647446; Brentin Mock, "Neigh-
borhoods With More People of Color Pay Higher Energy Bills," Bloomberg,
November 25, 2019,