Heating help on horizon

Published 12:05 am Friday, December 28, 2012


If winter heating costs are putting too much of a strain on the household budget, help will soon be available from two area organizations for those who qualify.

Officials are beginning the application period for utility payment assistance by the Organized Community Action Program (OCAP) and the American Red Cross’ Project Share program.

“I know there are going to be some large utility bills with all this cold weather we’ve had,” said Don Johnson, local American Red Cross chapter director. “I think we’ve timed these assistance programs just right to get residents some help.”

Elizabeth Seay, OCAP director, said that beginning at 8 a.m., on Mon. Jan. 7, her organization will begin taking call-in appointments for their regular heating assistance program. The calls will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Seay said residents should note the utility bill must be in the applicant’s name, and one must provide proof of income.

To make an appointment, call 334-428-2660. No walk-ins will be taken, she said.

Also, residents can apply for the American Red Cross heating assistance program, Project Share, on Dec. 31, Johnson said. Residents can set up an appointment after filling out an application by calling the Project SHARE office at 334-428-2680.

Application packages will be available at the Red Cross office located at 234 Hillcrest Drive in Andalusia, as well as the Florala and Opp senior centers.

Johnson said once an application is submitted, an appointment will be given for an interview, which will begin the week of Jan. 15.

“I should also point out that propane providers are no longer part of Project Share and will not be paid,” he said.

To qualify for assistance, the family income must be within certain guidelines depending on the size of the household. In addition, the head of the household must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:

• be 62 or older; or

• receiving a total disability check.

Project SHARE is a voluntary program, established by the utility companies in the state of Alabama, and funded through contributions from the utilities and private individuals who choose to donate $1 or $2 on their monthly utility bill.