Volume 94, Issue 81

Thursday, February 15, 2001


Lawless is flawless - Braun is gone

Candidates give Lawless advice

Gateway denied - Autonomy not on ballot

Heating assistance fund depleting

Your new USC president at a glance


Divisional Results

His Royal Mintiness

Heating assistance fund depleting

By Carrie Gennoe
Gazette Staff

London residents having trouble paying their heating bills may soon lose a valuable source of relief, as a charitable program that usually helps out is watching its funds dwindle fast.

The Heat And Warmth program, or THAW, was developed to help needy Londoners cover the costs of heating their homes. "THAW is designed to help poor people to get over the high costs of winter bills," explained Janet Logan, THAW program co-ordinator. "People pay a portion of their bill and we pay the rest."

The majority of THAW's funding comes through donations from groups like the United Way and the Salvation Army, but Logan added the City of London is its biggest financial booster. "The THAW program couldn't run without United Way and the community. One hundred percent of all the money donated goes to [covering heating bill costs]," she said, adding no money is spent on advertising.

Compared to last year, when funds ran out in March, this year's funds are dwindling faster, Logan said. As a result, THAW may have to provide for only the most desperate cases. "Funds are going down faster and bills are a third higher. We are down to $50,000, which is where we only help those at high risk," Logan said.

Joanne Rideout, a family service worker for the Salvation Army, said the charitable organization has been working with THAW to assist people with payments. "If the bill is of an excessive amount, we help THAW towards it," she said.

Logan said some of the people who come to THAW may require more than just assistance with bill payments. "People come to THAW as a last resort and sometimes there's an underlying reason. We refer people to the appropriate services, such as food banks or in some instances legal services."

Rideout said working with the referrals from THAW has been helpful to the Salvation Army. "It's helped with our budget because THAW has been helping with hydro and gas and we have helped more with food."

Cheryl Miller, City councillor for Ward 5, said she understands how difficult it can be for families to cover all of their bills. "I've dealt with families struggling month to month and things are falling off the table," she said.

Miller added London currently supports the program to the tune of about $145,000 per year.

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