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Monday, December 9, 2013 - 4:00am

Cut By Food Stamps, Many Wait In Line For Home Heating Help

Georgia agencies providing home heating help are reporting record numbers of applicants this winter.

A combination of budget cuts from Congress is straining organizations that keep needy residents out of the cold.

Last month, the federal government cut back on how much it sends people receiving supplemental nutrition assistance known as food stamps.

The increase in applications for energy help comes as agencies also are squeezed from the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

John Finney of Savannah Chatham County Economic Opportunity Authority says his agency served about 1,000 people in one day when the help became available.

"There were people who were sleeping outside the Savannah Civic Center and facilities all around the state of Georgia to get a mere $350 help on their bill," Finney says.

Finney expects his agency will help about 4,000 people this year, about 1,000 less than last year.

"People do not have enough money for food," Finney says. "They do not have enough money for energy resources. So it's a chain reaction."

Qualified ratepayers receive $350 dollars toward their electric and gas bills.