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Georgia LIHEAP Applicants Face Long Lines, Reduced Funding

Amid reports that some LIHEAP agencies are out of money and that police had to be called to an Atlanta agency, the state of Georgia is battling record cold and record LIHEAP applicants.

The Fulton-Atlanta Community Action Authority (FACAA), which administers LIHEAP in  the city of Atlanta and surrounding Fulton County, began taking LIHEAP applications December 1.  People lined up in the early morning hours in bitter cold and at one point police were called because the crowd got unruly, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The other metropolitan area counties of Cobb and DeKalb also saw long lines and disturbances. 

Joyce Dorsey, president and CEO of the authority, said that the recent demand for heating assistance is the worst she’s seen in her 20 years with the agency. She anticipated her agency will run out of its winter assistance funding by February and added that the agency distributing LIHEAP in Cobb County ran out of money after being open only one day, and that other local agencies may have run out.

Dorsey said her agency has received $4 million in LIHEAP funding so far this year, $1 million less than last year.  This is because Congress hasn’t finalized the FY 2011 federal budget, and LIHEAP allocations so far have been based on the lower of Senate and House appropriation levels. 

Weather in the Atlanta area was below freezing for much of last week. A TV station reported that ambulances were called for at least two people who had difficulty dealing with the cold outside a Cobb County agency.

In the meantime, the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association reported last week  that at least ten states are predicting increases in LIHEAP applications of at least 10 percent over last year:  Vermont, 64 percent;  Florida, 49 percent;  Massachusetts, 21 percent; Wyoming, 20 percent;  Oklahoma, 14 percent; and Wisconsin, Kansas, Hawaii, Utah, and Maryland, 10 percent.

Source: AJC, CBS Atlanta