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February 13, 2013

ANDERSON: In whose backyard?

(Continued)

For instance, when we talk about all “those welfare people” do we realize that only 474 families receive TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) in Clark County and 479 in Floyd? So, where are all those “welfare moms?” That equates to 1 percent of the families in Clark and 1.3 percent in Floyd County. The food stamp program served 11,927 people in Clark County last year and 8,941 people in Floyd County, respectively. That means a whole lot of fixed-income households, working poor people and unemployed people needed help. In addition, 8,233 children received free and reduced lunch through the school systems in Clark County and 5,100 children received the same assistance in Floyd County. We obviously have hunger issues in our community.

Any dialogue that does not include resources to help with the situation is impractical and naïve. Not having resources has resulted in huge numbers of people on food stamps. The lack of a living wage, underemployment (less than full-time) and medical coverage for those who are not receiving employment-backed benefits are weighing heavily on average people in our community. 

One family came for help this year and both parents were employed locally at $11 each per hour. The problem? They could not afford the cost of the insurance offered by their employer. The additional problem? Their 5-year-old girl was a brittle diabetic, as was dad, who tipped the scales at 134 pounds. 

Both needed medication monthly and had been denied Medicaid because of their wages. The cost of the medicine was $264 per month per prescription for dad and daughter plus the costs of needles, pills and secondary insulin. 

The total tab for medication alone for the family was almost $825 dollars and the insurance cost was $920 per month. This family would be better off on subsidies because if they continue to work, their family’s health is at imminent risk. 

What a position to be living in daily.

The dialogue is never easy when it comes to issues like this. It is difficult, painful and requires sacrifice. It requires compassion and it requires brotherhood/sisterhood. We are our brother’s keepers, God said that. With that being said, will we let our brother move next door?

— Barbara Anderson is executive director of Haven House Services Inc.

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