CONWAY, N.H. (AP) – The town is considering opening up public warming stations this winter to reduce the strain on its welfare budget.

“We’re trying to be pro-active,” Town Manager Earl Sires told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“We’re not sure if we’re ever going to need them and we’re not sure what situation we would get into, but we want to be ready to get individuals, families or groups into a temporary shelter.”

He said space in the town recreation center could be used as a warming station.

He said the town is considering the idea because its general assistance office stayed busy all summer with people needing help paying rent and utilities.

“Usually in the summer, there’s a lull, but there’s been no lull this year,” said Billie Jo Parker, who runs the office. “We’ve had 25 to 30 people a week come in here all summer long. That’s very high.”

She said the typical summer caseload is three or four people a week.

Low-income people can get federal home heating assistance through area Community Action Programs, and the state plans to supplement that. There also are state and federal assistance programs for people unable to pay their bills.

Town and city aid offices must step in when people don’t qualify for other programs or need immediate help, but Sires said the town budget is tight.

He said the local Rotary Club has put $5,000 into a heating assistance fund and also will be a clearinghouse for other fundraising efforts.


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