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Heating program to open limited spaces to those in need
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When an unstable economy and dropping temperatures combine, many citizens have a hard time staying warm in their homes.

Bonnie McGreu is one of those people.

After you pay rent and other bills, they dont realize that you need to buy food and have cleaning supplies and transportation, she said, explaining how a person living on a fixed income can quickly run out of money.

For assistance in heating her home, McGreu has turned to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is now open to income-eligible households in Dawson County.

McGreu, who moved to Dawsonville two years ago, rents an apartment that she has filled with photos and art, and shares with an aquarium and a Chihuahua. She enjoys crafts and volunteering.

She knows she could live with her children in Florida to help save on costs, but considers Georgia to be her home. She also wants to be as independent as she can be for as long as possible.

Every woman wants her own home so she can go about and do her own thing, she said.

The total number of households served this year by LIHEAP will be approximately 200, though that could change depending on whether or not additional funds are made available. Alice Williamson, community resource coordinator for Ninth District Opportunity, confirmed that the program served more households during 2010-2011.

Applicants to the program may call 706-265-3744 beginning 9 a.m. on Jan. 23.

Once it is determined that a household is eligible for funding, it can take up to 12 weeks for the funds to come through. Williamson said that even if the funding cant be used for heating this year, it would still be there for that household next year.

We dont take it back just because its not going to be used, she said, explaining that clients are still eligible for the program even if they have a credit from the previous year.

As winter continues to bear down on north Georgia, McGreu wants people to know that the help is out there if they need it.

They say theres a lot wrong with America, but theres a lot good with America still, she said. There really are a lot of good-hearted people out there.

I dont think theres anybody who doesnt have financial issues the way the economy is.