Nonprofit Group Working to Help Central VA. Families Stay Warm

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AHIP offices AHIP offices
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Hundreds of families in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are waiting on help to fix heating emergencies.

Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) has received a surge of callers asking for help. The nonprofit group is helping families who otherwise can't afford to fix their heat or repair frozen pipes.

“When the weather is severe, whether it's heavy rains or severe cold, we see a spike in the calls from the people who need help,” said AHIP Executive Director Jennifer Jacobs.

AHIP currently has 415 families on its waiting list, and more than half of them have a dire home emergency.

“In extreme cases, we get calls from people who don't have any heat whatsoever. And those are the cases that we really worry about, especially when they have kids in the house or senior citizens in the house,” Jacobs said.

Martha Doggett says her furnace has been broken for a long time. She and her husband went without heat for months this winter before AHIP came in and made a temporary repair.

“It's been a few times we've run out of kerosene, and didn't have money to do the kerosene,” Doggett said. “Thank God we have the gas stove so we could open the gas stove and heat the place. Well, the first two rooms anyway.”

The Doggett's furnace is working now, but what it really needs is to be replaced. Currently, the nonprofit is struggling to find funding for projects of this magnitude, especially in Albemarle Co.

AHIP is looking for donations and volunteers, especially before March 15: That's when a federal crisis assistance program that matches contributions wraps up for the season.

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