Fresno County Assistance Increases

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The number of people seeking food stamps, Medi-Cal care, and cash allowances from Fresno County has increased over the last year.Some residents say these programs help get them back on track.

Adela Jordan and her family are suffering in this meager economy.

Tucked in her arm is a bundle of paper work she hopes will help her receive a temporary financial boost from the county. "So we're trying to make sure we do everything we can so that we are helped and once we get done with it, let's go, move on. Thank you for your help," said Jordan.

Jordan is not alone in her quest. Case loads at the Fresno county Department of Employment and Temporary Assistance have increased 25% over last year. Individuals on Medi-Cal have increased 6% over the last fiscal year. And the county's money allowance program, Cash-Aid, has increased 13% since fiscal year '06-'07.

"The Cal-works program is to try to provide temporary assistance in times of need," said deputy director Steven Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said federal dollars fund those who qualify. Even though there is an increase in applications and case loads Rodriguez said not everyone who comes through the door is cleared for help. "They have too much income and too many assets valued to qualify for it," said Rodriguez.

That is not the Womack family's case. They have relied on food stamps, cash-aid and Medi-Cal since last summer. Their goal is simple: finish school and raise their two children in a home with a pool. "Hopefully within the next year or two we'll both be working at a really good job," said Crystal Womack.

County officials said the program can work if used properly.

Single-mother Lakisha Randolph said she was able to graduate college and support her children with the assistance program. "You set your goal and you follow the goal and they help you do all that. So it's up to you. If you want it, you can get it," said Randolph.

Since January the federal government has poured $20-million worth of food stamps a month into the county. That's an $8-million jump from two years ago.

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