In past years, the Energy Assistance Program administered by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has been available after November 1. But this year the program is being delayed a month. The program typically begins in November for those ages 65 and older, but won’t begin until December this year. And the general population, such as low-income families, is typically allowed to apply for assistance beginning in December, but will have to wait until January this winter.
Tina Dyke with the Middle Georgia Community Action Agency, said a delay in funding is the reason for the start of the program being put off a month, but she could not provide any information as to why the funding is being delayed. The Middle Georgia Community Action Agency, based in Warner Robins, covers a 15-county area, including Upson County.
After Dec. 1, residents age 65 and older or who are homebound can apply for assistance through the Department’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). All other eligible families may apply for assistance after January 1, 2016. Funds are administered through local Community Action Agencies on a first-come, first-served basis or until all funds are exhausted.
Last year, the LIHEAP program spent $175,000 in Upson County to assist 525 clients with their heating bills. Statewide, LIHEAP spent more than $55 million to assist over 163,000 clients. Depending on income and household size, those who qualified for the program received between $310 and $350 toward their home heating bills.
To qualify, a family’s annual income must be less than or equal to 60 percent of the median income for a Georgia family. For a household of one, the income threshold is $21,209; the income threshold for a household of five is $46,912.
Those seeking assistance must contact their local Community Action Agencies. All applicants will be asked to provide their most recent heating bill or statement of service from their heating providers, a well as the following information on every member of their household: Social Security numbers, proof of citizenship and proof of income for the last 30 days. Proof of income can include, but is not limited to: a paycheck stub, a letter granting public assistance, Social Security or unemployment benefits. All applicants will be required to sign a consent to release information form allowing the state to retrieve energy usage data from their energy provider and to provide proof of bill payment.
For more information on the program, contact the Division of Family and Children Services, LIHEAP toll free at 1-877-423-4746. To find the Community Action Agency in your area, visit http://www.georgiacaa.org.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.