Ninth District Opportunity Inc. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The program serves Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties.
All available appointments for elderly and homebound residents, as well as the general population, have been filled. But residents in need can call 855-636-3108 to check whether any appointments have become available through cancellations.
All appointments take place at the Ninth District Opportunity office located at 615 Oak St. in Gainesville. No walk-ins are allowed.
About 400 residents in Hall County have already been approved for assistance in paying their heating bills this winter, but the demand has been so high that all available appointments are now filled.
The federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program distributes money to local community action agencies to cover heating bills for those in need. Gas or electric payments are then made directly to service providers.
Elderly and disabled/homebound residents in Hall County and across Northeast Georgia’s Ninth District began applying on Nov. 1, and the program opened to general public on Dec. 1.
Shanna Cotton, community resource coordinator for the Ninth District Opportunity Inc. of Hall County, said she and her staff are still working through applications from elderly residents and that appointments for the general population will be held beginning in January.
More than $307,000 has been allocated for Hall County residents thus far, Cotton said, though she expects that figure to increase.
And some $134,000 has been doled out already, Cotton added.
For Hall resident Sylvia Earls, who was approved for support on Tuesday, the program “helps tremendously.”
She lives on a fixed income, as do most program recipients, with her only source of financial support coming from a Social Security check.
To qualify, a family’s annual income must be less than or equal to 60 percent of the median income for a family in Georgia.
That threshold is about $22,000 for an individual and close to $49,000 for a household of five.
And depending on income and household size, qualified applicants receive between $310 and $350 to pay their heating bills.
Earls said she has received support for about the last five years.
Without the program, “You have to decide whether you want to be warm or have something to eat,” Earls said.