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Stimulus Package Just in Time for Needy AZ Families

January 29, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – President Obama's economic stimulus plan can't come soon enough for the growing number of Arizonans hard hit by the recession, according to social help agencies. The Arizona Community Action Association reports parts of the state are seeing a 60- to 80-percent jump in demand for food, utility, rent and mortgage assistance.

At the same time, however, Cynthia Zwick, the organization's executive director, says Arizona lawmakers are considering cuts to every program the stimulus plan would fund, including low-income health care.

"One of the biggest issues we're facing is the inability to pay for health insurance. Families that have an illness often find themselves in a downward spiral, so the Medicaid support would help significantly."

While the recovery plan would extend unemployment benefits, Zwick says the sheer number of Arizonans filing jobless claims is swamping the state system.

"We have so many people applying that they can't get through the system, locally. Having additional money would be great. It would support a lot of families that are struggling, but we also need to work to get the infrastructure in place here that can process the claims."

The state recently hired 48 additional workers in response to the application backlog.

Zwick is enthusiastic about a stimulus provision for a weatherization program to increase the energy efficiency of low-income homes. She says it would save families money and create jobs.

"Re-deploying unemployed construction workers, getting those individuals trained and re-employing them in this weatherization program,is a very real possibility in the next couple of months here in Arizona."

The stimulus package passed the U.S. House last evening by a vote of 244-to-188. The measure now goes to the Senate.

The Obama Administration is open to the public's ideas on how to implement the stimulus plan at whitehouse2.org


Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ