Saturday, August 02, 2014

Jackson: Stimulus money giving social services a boost

By VICKIE MOSS, Herald Public Affairs Editor | 11/11/2009

Some people fall through the cracks.

They’re the ones who work and struggle to make ends meet but don’t qualify for government programs and services, or the ones who are unemployed for the first time in their lives.

Some people fall through the cracks.

They’re the ones who work and struggle to make ends meet but don’t qualify for government programs and services, or the ones who are unemployed for the first time in their lives.

They’re the ones coming in for help more and more, Richard Jackson, chief executive officer of Eastern Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp., said.

“Most of the time these are folks who had jobs and got laid off,” Jackson said. “They want to be self-sufficient. They want to provide for their families, but without an income, that’s hard to do.”

Now, because of stimulus money, some of the cracks have been filled.

ECKAN is able to help people who previously would not have qualified for assistance, Jackson said, mostly because of more than $1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“This lets us help folks we normally wouldn’t be able to help,” Jackson said.

Guidelines for some programs have been increased, from 120 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent.

For a family of three, 120 percent of the federal poverty level is a monthly income of less than $1,831; at 200 percent, monthly income must be less than $3,052.

Assistance will help someone who recently lost a job or who is in danger of losing a job, Jackson said. Most often, people need help paying mortgage, rent or utilities. Some people also need help with transportation or emergency issues — whatever it takes to find a job or keep a job, Jackson said.

“Each case is different,” he said.

The program provided by the stimulus money is helping 62 families in the eight counties served by ECKAN, Jackson said. The average amount of assistance is about $600, he said.

ECKAN works with utility companies and landlords to work out a payment plan when necessary. Most of the time, those entities are willing to help, he said.

“I think they recognize it’s hard for everyone right now,” he said.

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