Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Sequestration hits home

IMG 2510While Congress' lack of action has yet to cause the loss of jobs and services to Webster Parish Community Services, it has caused portions of their funding to be reduced by five to six percent.

"The programs hardest hit by the cuts are Section 8 Housing and Head Start," said Mary Whitaker, director of Community Services. "These programs are still operational, but there will be changes."
Whitaker said Congress' sequestration has resulted in federal funds falling short in the 2013 budget.

"Section 8 is a federal program, so it was hit directly," she said. "Some of our other programs get funding through the state, which gets money for the program from the federal government, so they are also affected."

In addition to Section 8 and Head Start, a reduction in the Community Services Block Grant is being noted.

"This grant provides funding for us to use in a variety of programs and helps make ends meet," Whitaker said. "For instance, Catholic Charities provides food for the elderly, but we use money from the block grant to pay to get the food to the individuals we serve."

Community Services has trimmed two weeks off the end of Head Start's school year, resulting in the last day for students being May 3.

Recipients of Section 8 funds may see changes as well.

"We may look at not filling a vacancy, if we have a spot open up that we would normally have filled," Whitaker said. "We may also consider reducing the amount the voucher is worth."

Whitaker said these changes will most affect people receiving and applying for services.

"While we are not expecting to receive any funding for this fiscal year, we are hopeful that we will continue to be funded, even if not at previous levels," Whitaker said.

Whitaker, who has held the position of director for approximately two months, is looking at a number of ways to streamline operations at Community Services.

"I think after I have been here a full calendar year, I will have a handle on everything," she said. "I am looking forward to re-branding Community Services and really doing some good.

"We want to provide people ways to help themselves- hands up rather than hands out," she continued. "I've got a lot to look at now, but my staff is incredible and we are all remaining positive."

 

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