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Low-income aid explained at local meeting

The AJFC Community Action Agency presented information about their 2014 Low Income Home Entergy Assistance Program and the 2014-2015 Community Services Block Grant Program at a public hearing Wednesday morning at the Lincoln County Public Library.

Shirlon Kelly, the AJFC presenter, said LIHEAP helps people struggling to pay their energy bills meet financial obligations.

In some cases, the program can also provide air conditioning window units. Kelly said to qualify a house cannot have any air conditioning and each household can only receive one unit. Exceptions may be made for health reasons.

“Last year, we gave units to five families,” she said. “We checked 20 households, and only five qualified.”

For the 2014 fiscal year, LIHEAP will receive $198,783, down from $218,181 in 2013. AJFC is privately owned, but the services are fully funded by the federal money. AJFC serves Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Claiborne counties plus Lawrence, Lincoln and Copiah, and all faced budget cuts this year.

“It’s a great program, but we need more money,” Kelly said.

To qualify for assistance, applicants must fill out a pre-application and attend their scheduled orientation. They must bring a picture ID, social security card, a birth certificate and proof of their 2013 income.

Kelly said they also need check stubs from the past month: if a person gets paid weekly, they need the last four stubs; if twice a month, the last two; and if once a month, the most recent one.

“There’s no way we can get you in the system without your information,” she said.

CSBG functions on a broader spectrum helping low-income families pay for such things as tuition, books and transportation.

Kelly said she currently has three nursing students enrolled in the program. Kelly also told about a single father of nine who came to her for help to get training for a commercial driver’s license. She helped connect him with a training program and checked in with him throughout the nine-week program to make sure he had what he needed and that he was still going to class.

Now, she said he drives locally and is able to be home with his children each night.

Funding for CSBG has remained at $22,000 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

For more information about LIHEAP, CSBG or AJFC, contact the office at 601-833-6349.