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Web Tool Helps Arizonans Connect with Social Services

January 22, 2010

PHOENIX - With budgets shrinking and needs rapidly growing, Arizonans looking for a helping hand-up have a new on-line tool to quickly find out what kinds of assistance they may be eligible for. The Web site, www.ArizonaSelfHelp.org, tells people where they can apply for services in or near their home zip code.

Created by Arizona Community Action Association, the Web site also provides a list of documents needed to apply, according to the group's director, Cynthia Zwick.

"Things like birth certificates. If you're applying for utility assistance, then they require a utility bill. It could be a lot of different kinds of information one would need to bring along. Oftentimes, it speeds up the process if someone brings those to the initial meeting."

ArizonaSelfHelp.org does screening for 32 separate programs, most of them based on income eligibility, says Zwick.

"Utilities that offer a discounted rate for low-income families or that provide utility assistance are also listed. There's information about diaper banks, for example, as well as information about food banks."

Because of the recession, Zwick says the needs of Arizonans currently far exceed the available resources. But, she says help can still be found for most families.

"We certainly want people to know that there are benefits like the SNAP, or food stamp program, that really is infinite in the ability to serve. If families are eligible, they can always get food stamps. There is also bill assistance, rental assistance and other programs available."

Arizona Self Help is a free and confidential service. 92 percent of households who complete the screening are eligible for at least one program or service listed on the site, according to organizers. The Web site offers the choice of English or Spanish.



Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ