Energy help program draws crowd

Photo by Terry Lewis

Photo by Terry Lewis

ALBANY, Ga. -- The waiting room at the Dougherty County Neighborhood Service Center was full, and the porch was packed as hundreds of county residents lined up to apply for the state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program on Wednesday.

The residents weren't picking up checks; they were there to try and qualify for the assistance program. To be eligible, applicants had to meet income criteria and be responsible for heating their homes.

Heads of households were required to prove they had an income equal to or less than 60 percent of Georgia's state median income guidelines -- $21,940 for a one-person household to $58,226 for a household of eight people.

"So far, we've put more than 2,000 people on the waiting list," NSC Assistant Director Natasha White-Dawson said. "Some of the people had been waiting on the porch since 4 p.m. yesterday. By the time we close our doors at 5 p.m., we'll probably have more than 3,500 on the waiting list.

"Of that number, we'll probably be able to help more than 2,000 of them."

White-Dawson said the energy assistance would range from $310 to $350 for each household that qualified, depending on the size of the household.

White-Dawson, who has been with the local NSC for four years, said the number of applicants "seem to be more this year than in the past, but I think some of that has to do with our streamlining the application process."