Heating Assistance Funds Near-Exhausted in Fulton

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(APN) ATLANTA — Since January 03, 2011, the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority has temporarily stopped accepting new applications for heating assistance through the federal LIHEAP program, due to exhaustion of funds.

The program runs from November through March.  It opens for seniors and disabled people on November 01, and to the general public on December 01.

FACAA CEO Joyce Dorsey previously told APN she expected this season’s funds to last through February 2011, but the program has been seeing record numbers of requests.

Dorsey told Atlanta Progressive News that FACAA had estimated that it had neared exhaustion of the approximately 3 million dollars it had received for LIHEAP this season.  The agency is expecting disbursement of another 1 million, which has already been approved, but they are still not sure when.

“We can’t make promises to people, if you don’t have it,” Dorsey said.

FACAA’s corporate office in Buckhead continued to receive phonecalls by the minute last week from Fulton and Atlanta residents seeking assistance.

Operators explained the funds were exhausted, that they were not accepting applications, and that they could check back the following week to see if they had any new information.

FACAA will honor any application appointments which have already been scheduled at the Warren Street office, which is the one office which had been offering appointments.

“We’re waiting to get what would be the remainder for the state.  We set aside until further notice because they have not been appropriated yet.  Once we are approved, we will still be able to serve about 7,000 people, and that’s all,” Dorsey said.

“We’ve so far served over 8,000.  7,000 applications is really not that many, we take close to 2,000 a week.  By the end of February, it will surely be gone,” she said.

LIHEAP comes through federal block grants and are distributed by the states.  The Georgia Department of Human Resources distributes the funds to local community action agencies.

According to a Georgia DHS press release, the state received 41.1 million dollars for LIHEAP funds.

Dorsey says it is unusual to run out of funds this early.

“We saw it changing in maybe 2009, where we began to have the onslaught.  More people qualify for the service now than before,” Dorsey said.

(END / 2011)

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