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Brunswick heating assistance program seeks funds as demand grows

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Brunswick heating assistance program seeks funds as demand grows

BRUNSWICK — Warm Thy Neighbor, a donation-based heating assistance program run by Tedford Housing, hopes to raise an extra $23,000 for dozens of low-income families in cold housing.

And Tedford Housing expects demand to grow as Maine's unseasonably cold weather continues.

"Currently, we're holding off taking new applications until we have more money," Executive Director Craig Phillips said on Monday, noting that 25 families are already on the waiting list.

He said Tedford hopes to reach the funding target by Jan. 10, 2014, which he estimates would help provide fuel for an additional 60-80 families, on top of the 62 already served.

Warm Thy Neighbor serves clients in Brunswick, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Durham, Harpswell, Lisbon, Lisbon Falls and Topsham.

So far, Phillips said, the program has raised $33,000 of its $55,000 goal. Unlike previous years, this year's funds had to be raised from scratch because there were no reserves left over from last year.

In addition, he said, the funding constraints forced the program to cut assistance from 100 gallons of heating fuel per client to 75 gallons.

Phillips said the demand is higher this winter because more families are requesting assistance earlier. Although Warm Thy Neighbor is intended as a last-resort program, he said some families are coming to Tedford first because of the failures of federal and state programs.

Earlier this year, Maria Hinteregger, of the United Way of Mid Coast Maine, called the situation for heating assistance programs "dire."

"In whatever community you live in, there are people who need fuel assistance," Hinteregger said, "and the programs that fund them may no longer have those funds or are in danger of no longer having those funds."

Donations may be sent to Warm Thy Neighbor, c/o Tedford Housing, P.O. Box 958, Brunswick, ME 04011. Contributions are also accepted online via PayPal at Tedford’s website, tedfordhousing.org.

For more information about donating, contact Director of Community Relations Martha Stein by phone at 729-1161, extension 101, or email at marthas@tedfordhousing.org.

To inquire about obtaining heating assistance, call 729-1161, extension 117. Extra information for regional heating assistance is available from the United Way of Mid Coast Maine on its website at uwmcm.org/find-help or by calling 211.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.