• Hundreds line up for heating assistance

    By: Tom Jones


    FOREST PARK, Ga. - Hundreds of people needing help with their heating bills lined up to get assistance in Forest Park Monday.

    Channel 2's Tom Jones was there as people with babies and lawn chairs stood in line in hopes of qualifying for up to $350.

    Cynthia Ruffin said she stood in line for three hours.

    "I really wanted to leave but I needed that $350 so I had to stay. I needed the money," Ruffin said.

    The Clayton County Services Authority says the federal government has given it just over $2 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

    The agency hopes to help 6,000 people in Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties.

    People with low income who qualify will receive a one-time payment up to $350 to pay their heating bill.

    Some residents thought the Authority could have set up appointments and that would have helped avoid the long lines.

    "But this morning they didn't have no appointments. The line was all the way (around) this whole place and up to the street," one woman said.

    Authority officials said there's only so much they can do when the crowds get this large.

    "We only have so many workers and can only take so many applications a day. So that's what the problem was today," Beechie Yates, comptroller for the Authority, said.

    The Authority did hand out numbers and called people in to see if they are qualified that way.

    Pat Ballinger was in line at 2:30 a.m. to make sure she got qualified before the money runs out. She said the long lines show that there are too many people still struggling in this economy.

    "Everybody is in need of help. And that's why I had to be here. I had to. It was a must," she said.

    This program is first come, first served. Once the money is gone, officials said it is gone.

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