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Utility limits assistance.

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Just one day after Shelby County's Community Services Agency (CSA) began making appointments for residents seeking utility assistance, the number of calls forced the agency to stop taking any more appointments until next month.

To qualify for the Summer Cooling Program funds, residents were to call the CSA beginning last Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During that time, 640 appointments were scheduled. More than 40 daily appointments also were scheduled at other CSA assistance locations in Southbrook Mall and Raleigh Springs Mall. Calls were to be taken through Friday, July 30th, with funds being distributed on a first-call basis.

But no more appointments will be taken until August 23rd, said program administrator Clarice Williams. "We had an overwhelming number of people call in need of utility assistance, and we are booked with appointments through August 19th," she said. "If we still have money left after that date, we'll start issuing appointments again for the month of September."

The program has $839,000 in federal funds administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services to distribute. Each eligible household receives between $225 and $325. To qualify for the funds, a household must include a member who is elderly, disabled, or has a medical condition aggravated by heat. Also, the household's total income must not exceed the federal guidelines for non-farm families.

There are currently no emergency service funds available to extend the program. n

E-mail: jdavis@memphisflyer.com

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