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Home heating help available Nov. 1
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Ninth District Opportunity Inc. has announced another year of the Home Heating Help program for the elderly and homebound in Dawson County.

Households in which every member is age 65 and older or is homebound due to health reasons may apply for assistance with their home heating bills beginning on Nov.1, 2016.

The Georgia Department of Human Services will help pay heating costs for gas or electric. The funds are distributed by the Ninth District to people in need.

A one-time payment will be made by check issued to the home energy supplier on behalf of eligible households.

According to Denise Ricketts, community resource coordinator for the Dawson County Ninth District Opportunity office, last year the non-profit distributed $86,000 among 286 homes in Dawson County.

Applicants either received $310 or $350, depending on the income of their household, Ricketts said.

Only households 65 years of age and older or homebound due to health reasons may apply Nov. 1. Applicants that do not meet the required criteria will be denied.

Depending on the availability of funds, the regular program will open to the general public on Dec. 1.

Because funds are limited, residents can find other ways to decrease home heating costs during the winter months.

Some effective measures to combat high heating bills include:

-Hang lined draperies over windows
-Use draft blockers along windows and doors
-Allow sunlight in during daylight hours to provide natural heating
-Get furnaces serviced to ensure optimal performance
-Lower the hot water heater thermostat setting to 120 degrees
-Install programmable thermostats
-Weather all windows and doors in the home

In a new initiative for the program, this year applicants are asked to call a scheduling system instead of the Ninth District Opportunity office.

According to Ricketts, in the past applicants have called the office directly, but with only one phone line so much traffic on Nov. 1 would jam the lines.

"I was concerned at first about the new scheduling system," Ricketts said. "But we've already been receiving calls from a number of seniors and they're calling the scheduling system so we're pleased with that."

Ricketts said the program is very important for the community's elderly citizens.

"The elderly depend on this every year to get through the winter, as they are on fixed income," she said.

Ninth District Opportunity, Inc. is an equal opportunity agency while providing services without regard to age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or any other classification or category.

Ricketts said that citizens can call the office at 706-265-3744 with any questions.

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Eligibility for the program is based on the income of all household members. All eligible households must be responsible for their home heating costs.

When applying for assistance, persons will present verification of age for everyone in the home, verification of all household income received within the last 30 days (check stubs, public assistance checks, unemployment checks, etc.); verification of Social Security numbers for everyone in the home, verification of citizenship (driver's license, state ID, etc.) and the most recent heating source and electric bill.

All eligible applicants are asked to call Ninth District Opportunity, Inc.'s scheduling system beginning 12:01 a.m. at 855-636-3108 or through the website at

Phone lines or website scheduling will not be active until the opening date of the program and no appointments will be made by telephone or online until this time. No walk-ins, please.

Appointments will be scheduled until all funds are exhausted.