(a) Local social services districts shall:
(1) assume responsibility for the performance of outreach activities to assure that eligible households, especially households with elderly and/or disabled individuals are made aware of the assistance available under HEAP;
(2) assume responsibility for determining eligibility for low-income households;
(3) assume responsibility for the provision of HEAP benefits to those low- income households determined eligible for assistance. For purposes of the current HEAP State Plan, where an eligible HEAP household pays a home energy vendor directly for his/her heating costs, the HEAP payment must be issued as a vendor payment. These vendor payments may be issued in one or a combination of the following methods: two-party check made payable to the recipient and home energy supplier as co-payees, and/or establishment of a line of credit with a home energy supplier on behalf of the recipient, and/or, if county fiscal policy permits, a check for the recipient's full HEAP benefit may be sent to the home energy supplier. The term home energy supplier means an individual or entity engaged in the business of selling electricity, oil, gas, wood, kerosene or any other fuel used for home energy in a residential dwelling. All other benefits under HEAP must be made to the eligible households by means of the following methods to be exercised at the option of the district; direct payment to the eligible household, establishment of a line of credit with a home energy supplier on behalf of the eligible household, issuance of a restricted payment in the form of a two-party check issued to the eligible household and its home enerty supplier as co-payees or any combination of the foregoing methods. If the district chooses to pay home energy suppliers directly, the district must:
(i) notify each eligible household of the amount of assistance paid on its behalf; and
(ii) enter into a written agreement with the home energy supplier which includes at least those provisions prescribed by the department and the following mandated requirements:
(a) the home energy supplier will charge the eligible household, in its normal billing process, no more than the difference between the actual cost of the home energy and the amount of the payment made by the district under HEAP;
(b) no household receiving assistance under HEAP will be treated any differently because of the receipt of such assistance; and
(c) any home energy supplier receiving direct payments will not discriminate, either in the cost of goods supplied or the services provided, against the eligible household on whose behalf payments are made;
(4) maintain such documentation as the department shall prescribe in support of claims for reimbursement in connection with HEAP;
(5) provide the department with any information and reports necessary for the proper and efficient administration, monitoring and evaluation of HEAP; and
(6) be held liable for payments negligently or voluntarily incurred in violation of Federal or State statutes and regulations and for all payments above the district's funding allocation.
(b) The district may enter into contracts with authorized local community action agencies area agencies on aging, and/or other not for profit neighborhood based agencies/organizations to perform outreach and certification to the nonelderly population. All contracts must contain provisions that the work performed by the contractor must be in accordance with applicable Federal and State statutes and regulations, the federally accepted State Plan, the provision of these regulations and applicable releases of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. In the event that the contractor has complied with the terms and conditions of the HEAP program as required by the district and in accordance with applicable Federal and State statutes and regulations, the federally accepted State Plan and applicable releases of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the district may hold the contractor harmless from any and all liability which may arise by reason of such compliance. The contractor shall be held liable for payments negligently or voluntarily incurred in violation of Federal and State statutes and regulations and for all payments above the district's funding allocation.
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