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Changing seasons bring assistance programs

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

By Jill Richstone | Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:00 am

As the leaves begin to change around Cherokee County, temperatures will drop, leaving some without means to winterize their homes or service their heating units.  

North Georgia Community Action Inc. is offering two programs to assist low-income families, as well as the elderly, to prepare for the cold weather. The nonprofit organization is working with Resource Ministries to assist elderly Atlanta Gas Light customers with their gas heating units, gas water heaters and duct work; while the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) is working with Community Action to provide weatherization services to low income Georgia Power customers. 

“You can qualify for both programs,” said North Georgia Community Action Weatherization Director Jeff Patterson.

In its partnership with Resource Ministries, Community Action will work to assist Atlanta Gas Light customers, who are eligible for participation, with their heating units. Eligibility requirements include that citizens must own their home, be 65 years or older and meet the income eligibility requirements.

“We’re going to be able to go and do a combustion safety test on the (heating) unit, we’re going to be able to try and determine if it’s meeting the current standards and if it needs to be repaired or replaced,” Patterson said, adding that as part of the combustion safety testing, they also will test for carbon monoxide, to ensure there are no leaks in the home.

He said the elderly are susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes because, oftentimes, they are on medications that can cause the same symptoms as carbon monoxide poisoning, which hampers their ability to recognize a potential leak. 

In addition to testing and repairing gas heating units and gas water heaters, the nonprofit also will inspect duct work in homes. 

“We try to look at people’s duct work and make sure that when they are using their heat that they’re getting it in the rooms that they want, and it’s not going in their attic, or not going in their crawl space,” Patterson said. 

According to Patterson, the program was made possible after Resource Ministries received a grant from the Public Service Commission. However, in order to qualify for the renewal of the grant for next year, Community Action must generate more interest in the service. Patterson said he urges people to take advantage of the program prior to Oct. 31, so that the grant can be renewed and the nonprofit can continue to offer the service throughout next year. 

The nonprofit’s partnership with GEFA is an effort to offer weatherization services, such as adding insulation to the attic, installing weather-stripping, installing wall insulation and the replacement and installation of more energy efficient appliances, to Georgia Power customers who meet the income eligibility requirement; there is no age stipulation, and customers can either own or rent their home. 

According to the North Georgia Community Action website, weatherization is “a critical, yet oftentimes overlooked, area of need for the low income, disabled and elderly citizens in the North Georgia region.” 

The weatherization services program, according to the website, is designed to reduce home heating and cooling costs by improving energy efficiency, while ensuring health and safety. 

The Cherokee Ledger-News