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Hard times driving need for local agencies | Morgan County Citizen Online

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Hard times driving need for local agencies Submitted by editor on Fri, 08/06/2010 - 18:50.

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By Katie Davis Staff Writer The past 18 to 24 months have been difficult for Morgan County's charitable organizations, and even harder for the growing number of impoverished families they serve. As the economy has ebbed, so have donations to many of these agencies, though the number of applications for assistance is significantly higher. Sandra Moss, director of the Morgan County Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) has noticed an increase in need that is unprecedented in her 33 years of work with underprivileged families. "It's obvious from our end that the economy is really hurting people," she said in a telephone interview. "Before the recession, there were about 600 cases [of families needing assistance.] That was static for years. The last year and a half, it's gone up, it's doubled. We're taking 60-80 new applications a month." According to Moss, there are now 1,359 families receiving food stamps in Morgan County, and 1,611 families on Medicaid. Additionally, there are several families who have applied for assistance from DFCS but do not meet the requirements because they have a little income, but not enough to sustain themselves. "It's a whole different group of people [applying for assistance] – it's people who have never asked for public assistance before," said Moss. She notes that often the applicants do not have permanent housing, but are staying temporarily with family or friends. While Morgan County has no dedicated homeless shelter, there are several charitable organizations and churches working together to provide aid. Recently, three churches, the Madison Presbyterian, Madison Methodist and Gathering Place sponsored a transitional housing unit through Action Ministries. The modest two bedroom house, one half of a duplex on Micha Way, will soon become a home for one local family. Action works to stabilize families through education and financial support. The head of household meets weekly with an assigned case manager to work on budgeting and housekeeping skills, job searches, and counseling. "We teach them how to plan, rather than living day-to-day," said Sara Evans, executive director of Action Ministries' transitional housing program. "We give them support so they can become self-sufficient." Action Ministries is not to be confused with ACTION, Inc. (the Area Committee To Improve Opportunity Now) though both organizations have a common goal of improving the lives of the indigent. Action Ministries has its roots in the Methodist church, though it is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit serving the North Georgia area. "Financial support makes it happen," said Evans. The location costs about $35,000 a year to maintain (including rent, utilities and case management.) Action requires that the community provide a quarter of the cost. "We go where the support is... so local donations stay local," she said. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Georgia match the donations three to one. Action Ministries' transitional housing units are available for families up to two years, though the average time of occupancy is a year.

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Hard times driving need for local agencies | Morgan County Citizen Online

9/4/13 3:58 PM

years, though the average time of occupancy is a year. Once a family obtains their own permanent housing, Action case managers maintain contact and provide any necessary or requested services. According to Evans, last year 15 families left the program, of those 11 found permanent housing. Of those 11, four families purchased their own homes. "Most of these people just need a little bit of help," Jill Adams, outreach elder at Madison Presbyterian said. Income is often compromised when a single parent must choose between childcare and employment or education. Action Ministries helps struggling families close that gap through their various programs and connections to other service agencies. "It just seemed so important. The problem always feels so big and so overwhelming... but this is helping one family at a time," Adams said. "It's an outreach ministry for the congregation to be involved in, to help people in our community." Printed in the August 5, 2010 edition. Âť Login or register to post comments

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Hard times driving need for local agencies | morgan county citizen online