Federal funding, rising energy costs limit heating help available - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Federal funding, rising energy costs limit heating help available

(Sumter) Oct. 21, 2005 - With natural gas prices spiking this winter, many folks will be looking for help to stay warm. But the US Senate has voted down a proposal that would add more money to help the poor with heating costs.

Fredrica Brailsford doesn't usually worry, but just thinking about this winter makes her nervous, "What I think will be the biggest challenge will be persons making that decision, whether you are going to choose, heat, food, medicine."

Brailsford is concerned, "I think there could be some loss of life."

She heads the energy services at Wateree Community Actions. It's the place where people can apply for emergency federal help to keep their heat on.

Already, she says there is a 200 person waiting list. And when asked whether she expects to have to turn more people down this year than last year, "Yes, and that will be a heartwrenching decision to make."

Brailsford says she'll need about 25 percent more money to help out the same number of people next year. But just Thursday, the US Senate voted against increasing the federal money for the program. Both of our Senators from South Carolina voted no.

The office of Senator DeMint says he, "voted for the overall bill that funded (the program) at $2.183 billion, nearly $200 million more than requested. He voted against the amendment because it didn't go through the normal appropriations process and would have increased the deficit."

Senator Graham's spokesperon told WIS, "[that program] is being dealt with in other sections of the budget. It was inappropriate to deal with it at this time."

Brailsford hopes the spokesperson is right, "I'm hoping there's another plan"

Because as much as this self-proclaimed planner tries, she can only stretch the dollars so far, "The weather, we have no control of that, but we have to be our brother's keeper and take care of who is in need."

There are strict rules regarding who can get assistance from this program. If you'd like more information, you can call 1-866-674-6327.

Reported by Heather Brown

Posted 6:25pm by Chantelle Janelle

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