Nearly 100 people asked to be placed on a waiting list for heating assistance this winter as temperatures dropped into the 20s and 30s last week.
The problem, according to a community resource coordinator with Ninth District Opportunity, is that funding for home energy assistance has already been depleted.
“We received about 25 percent less funding this year than we did last year,” said Alice Williamson, who works from the Dawsonville office.
Heating assistance opened to residents 65 and older and those who are completely homebound on Nov. 1. The age limits were erased on Dec. 1, so that anyone falling in the income guidelines was eligible for the assistance.
A family of four with an annual income of about $44,000 would qualify.
Williamson said the office received 85 phone calls from residents seeking assistance on the first day everyone became eligible.
“We had enough funds to do about 40 of the applications and that’s it,” she said.
While the funds for heating assistance are no longer available, Williamson said there are alternatives that could save residents significant dollars on their heating bills.
“We do have money for our weatherization program, and are looking for homes in Dawson County,” she said.
Qualifying households can receive assistance in making their homes more energy efficient through conservation measures and home repairs.
“We would send people out to the homes to make the repairs,” Williamson said.
Measures could include air sealing, insulation, caulking, window and door repair, weather stripping and door sweeps, among others.
Each household receiving assistance through Ninth District’s weatherization program also receives energy counseling.
“The energy savings we see after the winterizations are really good,” Williamson said.
To be considered for Ninth District’s weatherization program, call (706) 265-3744 to schedule an appointment.