Locals look for help heating homes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Locals look for help heating homes

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

These single digit temperatures have most people cranking up the heat in their homes to stay warm. This is the second arctic blast this month, which is causing utility bills sky rocket.

Thousands of people in our area are looking for some help paying their heating bills, but the agencies that help are overwhelmed.

"I'm stuck in this position where I have to go out and do everything and it's kind of hard," Cheyenne Walker said.

Cheyenne Walker lost her job last month, her roommates moved out and now she has no clue how she'll pay her extra high power bill that's due this month.

"This month it's $514," Walker said.

She's one of thousands turning to local non-profits for help, only to end up on a waiting list.

"The traffic has been overwhelming. There really have been a lot more applications that have come through this year than in other years," LIHEAP Coordinator Linda Astacio said.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP has helped 3,000 local families pay their utility bills so far this winter.

"We've seen everything from faces of joy to hugs to tears," Astacio said.

But there are more than 500 applicants on a waiting list and that number is growing with each passing hour. The program uses grant money from the state, and has to wait for it's next payment, hopefully soon, in order to meet the demand. They're not the only organization running low on funds.

"Anytime the temperatures dip, our phones start ringing. People are in need. They're cold," Salvation Army Spokesperson Kimberly George said.

The Salvation Army says they've gotten enough donations of blankets and coats, but not enough money to help people in need heat their homes.

"Forty families last month with utility assistance, but we had to turn away over 100," George said.

And they've gotten just a handful of heaters to hand out.

"We have had some donors say I saw you on the news and I wanted to donate a heater but I couldn't find one. The Tennessee Valley, all of us, are going out and trying to find those small little heaters," she said.

If you're in need of help or would like to donate to those less fortunate, below is a working list of the local agencies that handle heating assistance...

METROPOLITAN MINISTRIES
1112 McCallie Ave. Chattanooga, TN
(423) 624-9650
http://www.metropolitanministries.org/

NORTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE
211 Minor St. Chattanooga, TN
(423) 267-2217
http://nnhouse.org/

UNITED WAY OF GREATER CHATTANOOGA
630 Market St. Chattanooga, TN
(423) 265-8000 or dial 211
http://www.uwchatt.org/www

SALVATION ARMY
822 McCallie Ave. Chattanooga, TN
(423) 756-1023
http://www.csarmy.org/

TN LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP) SERVING HAMILTON COUNTY
501 West 12th St. Chattanooga, TN
(423) 757-5551
http://www.tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/liheap/liheap-agencies.pdf

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