AJFC to help needy residents pay utility bills

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; When temperatures start dropping, energy bills start rising &045; and, for many low-income people, the expense is too much.

With that in mind, the AJFC Community Action Agency plans to provide Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds to help meet those needs.

Specifically, AJFC will use the more than $500,000 in federal LIHEAP funds it has received to pay one month’s electric or natural gas bill per household.

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Funds are dispersed to counties based on the percentage of poor households in each county compared with the state’s poverty level, according to information from the state’s Department of Human Services.

AJFC probably will not start dispersing the funds until Jan. 6, when the agency starts full-time hours again following the holidays, said agency Chief Executive Officer Lamar Braxton.

Funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for those in the agency’s seven-county service area in southwest Mississippi whose household incomes are up to 125 percent of the federal poverty level.

&uot;And we already have a waiting list&uot; of qualified people who will be served first, Braxton said. Estimates of how many people the agency will be able to serve with LIHEAP funds were not available as of Monday afternoon.

In past years, assistance was first given to low-income elderly people, but it is now open to low-income people of any age.

&uot;With the economic conditions in our area, in some cases (younger people) are in worse shape that some of our elderly people,&uot; Braxton said.

To get your name on the waiting list, contact your local AJFC office. In Adams County, the telephone number is 442-8681.