Some of Augusta’s neediest residents could be left in the cold this month until more federal funding is available for home heating assistance.
The CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority delayed the application period for its Energy Assistance Program until January. Initially, low-income residents could apply beginning Monday.
Some funds leftover from November when low-income elderly and disabled signed up for assistance will be used this month to help residents whose utilities have been disconnected or are in immediate danger of being disconnected, said Patricia Johnson, energy coordinator for the CSRA EOA.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to serve a lot of families in December who have an emergency,” Johnson said.
The leftover funds total about $320,000, or enough to help 1,000 households, Johnson said. Typically, the CSRA EOA Energy Assistance Program serves more than 4,000 residents each month in Richmond and 12 surrounding counties.
Barbara Jones, of Augusta, received a notice from Georgia Power on the day after Thanksgiving that her electricity, which is used to heat her home, would be cut off this Friday.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Jones who applied Monday for emergency assistance. “It was a blessing for me to find out about this.”
With help from the CSRA EOA, Georgia Power extended services for Jones while her application is processed, which can take up to 14 days.
A steady stream of people were turned away from the EOA office on Telfair Street on Monday. Johnson told many who were not considered “crisis cases” to apply in January.
Johnson said funds haven’t been available in December since 2010, leaving some residents struggling to keep their heat on during winter weather.
“This is a problem we suffer from yearly because we don’t have funds to serve our community year-round,” she said. “A lot of people are going to be in the dark.”