Family Fights To Change HEAP Standards After Tragic Fire

January 21, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM EDT

By WKBW News

January 21, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM EDT



The Bell family lost both their daughter and granddaughter in a house fire December 15th of 2013.

They said, things may have been different if the standards of the program were changed.

Harold Bell said, his daughter worked two part-time jobs trying to keep her head above water and made just $25 too much to qualify for HEAP assistance. Her gas was not turned on and she used space heaters to keep warm. Bell said, they believe that's what started the fire but still can't determine the cause because the house was too badly damaged.

Eligibility for the HEAP program is based on income and household size.

Bell said, that's where things get complicated because the Federal program is based on gross income, the amount you're paid before taxes.

So now, Bell is hoping to change the standards.

He wants the requirements to be based off net income, the amount you actually take home.

The Bell family has started an online petition called, Change The Standards For Heap and Heat Shut-Offs.

So far, the family has over 500 names on the petition and hope the list will continue to grow.

They want to get as much attention as possible to help prevent another loss like theirs.

HEAP is a federal program but eligibility requirements vary from state to state.

Here's a link to the "Change The Standards For Heap and Heat Shut-Offs petition":


An Olean family is fighting to change the requirements of the Home Energy Assistance Program known as HEAP.