Macon-Bibb EOC changes application process for heating assistance due to scrutiny

Last November I wrote a scathing editorial that received national coverage about the outrageous application process in place in Macon for heating assistance. I received emails from the national LIHEAP program as well as incredulous journalists and outraged community activists. No one could believe how poorly this heating assistance program in Macon was being administered.

Here is the original article: Macon Bibb EOC Heating Assistance Leaving Truly Needy in Cold

The reason I and so many others were outraged is because the Macon-Bibb EOC that administers the heating assistance program was rewarding the low income elites who were willing to stand in line and punishing the neediest, oldest and frailest who were unable to stand in line.

Here is a short quote from my previous article where I expressed my outrage.

Lonnie Miley who heads the EOC said “It’s so disrespectful to people. We’re trying to serve our senior citizens first” To that I would respectfully say bullshit. If Miley and the EOC were truly concerned about the elderly, infirmed, and the ones most desperately in need there would be no standing in line process period. Instead there would be an application process that could take place by phone or by mailing, faxing, or submitting copies of the forms digitally by e-mail or a website. The ones most desperately in need will not be able to stand in line! 

This is certainly an improvement over last year which rewarded the low income elites like one in particular my sister recently saw at Sam’s club buying $600 in groceries that included steaks and other luxury food items few working people can afford. Here is the real kicker though, she “paid” for her luxurious bounty with an EBT card.  I should also mention she was immaculately dressed in expensive clothing with a designer handbag and left in a very expensive SUV. She was also relatively young and appeared to be in excellent health. This is exactly the type of person that benefited from Macon-Bibb EOC’s program as it has been administered for many years.

Not to toot our own horn but I daresay this lady would have also been the first in line to get free heating assistance again this year as well if they had not changed their application process thanks to my article and also the attention brought by people like David Oedel who visited the EOC application process last year. Here is what he wrote for an article in the newspaper at the time.

I found the lot jammed with cars, and was immediately impressed by the large number of fine vehicles on hand for the funding frenzy: Accord V-6, Avalon, Avenger, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln Town Car, Ram Hemi, and on and on — many of them late-model editions. Apparently some applicants for heating assistance are already themselves rather successful at “coordinating available resources.”

Appearances can be deceiving, but this group, numbering about 150-200, didn’t look poverty stricken in comparison with many Maconites I know and see daily who are far more obviously, desperately poor. But those folks apparently didn’t have rides, fancy or not, to EOC’s event on Shurling, which, incredibly, wasn’t even on a bus line.

If EOC intends to break Macon’s cycle of poverty, it might rethink its approach of steering handouts to select, sophisticated “low income” elites like some last week who buzzed over to Shurling to stake claims.

I am still saddened to see that people are still forced to go to Saint Paul AME Church on Shurling drive which is not a central location and has no easy access by public transportation. Why not have the applications handled at the Macon-Bibb office on Second Street? Why not have alternate locations to serve people in South, West, North, and Central Bibb? What about the home-bound elderly who can’t easily travel in person? I hope they will continue to improve the application process so that people from all over the county that need help can be served.

This new process is still far from perfect but it is a huge improvement compared to the astonishingly bad way this program has been administered by the Macon-Bibb EOC in past years.

Here are the details of the new process in place to assist people in need of heating assistance support.

People can start calling at 8:00am on Wednesday December 2nd, to reserve a time to make their application in person. A news release from the Macon-Bibb EOC says walk-ins will NOT be accepted.

The qualifications include:

  • All adults in household must be 65 years or older.
  • Have a life-threatening crisis. (must have life threatening medical statement)
  • Home-bound (must be screened first)

Applicants also must provide Macon-Bibb EOC with a copy of their most recent power bill or statement from their utility company. You also need to bring statements like pay stubs or a letter from an employer to prove your income over the last 30 days.

To qualify for the program applicants must have a yearly household income less than or equal to 60% of the state median income.

1 person household: $21,356
2 person household: $27,927
3 person household: $34,498
4 person household: $41,069

All members of your family must bring a Georgia driver’s license or Georgia state issued I.D. and a Social Security card. The release says you also need to show proof of household income over the last 30 days. To get a designated time slot for an appointment to apply for the heating assistance you need to be elderly, home-bound, or have a life-threatening crisis. After receiving your time slot, you’ll be set up to go to Saint Paul AME Church on Shurling Drive on December 8th, 15th, or 22nd.

The number to make an appointment is 478-207-6380. It will activate at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 2.

 

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