No more standing in the cold to apply for heating assistance - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

No more standing in the cold to apply for heating assistance

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Enrichment Services has revamped its annual heating assistance program to avoid having people stand in the cold to make application.  

Those needing assistance with utility bills stood in line for hours and in some cases overnight last November at the Liberty Theatre on 88th Avenue in Columbus.  People were bundled up in layers and blankets braving the cold hoping to be the first 100 each day to receive a ticket.

The complaints were numerous from residents saying it was unfair for them to have to stand out in the cold.  Enrichment Services Interim Director for Community Services, John Robinson, took those complaints into consideration.  "Individuals will no longer have to stand in the cold; they will call in for appointments only," said Robinson.

The elderly, 65 and older, and homebound clients can start calling as early as Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  Calls will be accepted Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the month of November.  The application process will open in December for the general public if funds are still available said, Belva Dorsey, Executive Director of Enrichment Services.

Three phone lines are available @ 706-641-4039 which could pose a problem for callers getting through.  Callers said they got a buy signal repeatedly when trying to call in last year. "We have tested the lines and they do work. I called in and I didn't get through the first or second time, but I get on the third try. So, you may have to try several times," added Robinson.

Recipients can qualify for up to $350.00 depending on their household income and occupants.  Previous recipients can reapply this year.

Last year, Enrichment Services assisted almost 7000 people in the 8 county area including Muscogee County.  The Community Action Agency received $3 million federal dollars and a $35,000 anonymous donation in 2010.  The number of recipients is expected to be far less this year with just more than $1 million received from the government for 2011.

"I would like to make an appeal to the community for private donations. The more money we receive, the more we'll be able to help people who are in need," explained Robinson.

The location has also changed to 2100 12th Avenue.

For more information call (706) 641-4039.

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