The unusually warm winter is not shortening the waiting lists of people who need help paying their heating bills, and agencies say a new infusion of cash still won’t be enough to meet demand.
Georgia received another $27 million from the federal government this month for home-heating assistance for the poor. But many of the 20 community action agencies around the state who disperse the money have long waiting lists.
“We have been told that there is an additional amount that will be received that will allow us to serve additional people, but it won’t be anywhere near the $2.6 million that we received [each year] over the last couple of years,” said Jerome Anderson, executive director of Community Action for Improvement in LaGrange.
His organization serves five counties in west Georgia and helped 7,100 people with their heating bills last year. This year, they’ll get a million dollars less, Anderson said.
“There’s some desperation out here among the elderly and home-bound and it’s reflected in the calls that we get,” he said. “But we suspect, or it is our hope at least, that we will be able to serve the elderly [who request help].”
The heating aid program opens to seniors first and then to the general public, usually in November and December.
Agencies in Gainesville, Macon and Savannah have re-opened or will soon re-open applications for the aid.
Many agencies started waiting lists or delayed the application period when they ran out of money late last year.