THE BRONX - A government program is offering to help Bronx residents pay their heating bills, as tough economic times may make it more difficult this winter than ever before.

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) gives money to those eligible to help pay heating bills. According to Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Gov. David Paterson and the federal government have allotted more money for the HEAP program in 2009.

In order to qualify for HEAP, residents must be U.S. citizens who are receiving temporary assistance, collecting food stamps or bringing in a family income which amounts to less than $55,000 a year. The amount of money residents receive from the program depends on their income and the percentage spent on home heating costs. The program also offers emergency assistance for those in danger of having their heat shut off.

To inquire about eligibility or to receive an application, call 311.