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Cuts Threaten Ohio Community Programs

February 22, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Community Action Agencies in Ohio and across the country are concerned about the effects the two separate budgetary proposals circulating in Washington will have on the lives of their clients.

Those two plans on Capitol Hill threaten a variety of programs from food assistance to job training that are helping Ohioans during tough times. The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) would be cut in half under President Obama's budget for 2012 and would be eliminated entirely under a House proposal.

IMPACT Community Action Agency serves the Columbus area, and executive director Bo Chilton says the cuts would be felt immediately.

"We would have to begin laying off as many as 31 employees right away, as well as shutting down our programs for work force development, re-entry, emergency rental and housing assistance."

Sandy Hinze of Marion County suffers from a variety of health problems, including lupus. She says she doesn't know what she would do without the assistance she gets from the United Prescription Program offered by the Ohio Heartland Community Action Commission.

"My medication through the year is $19,000. I can't afford that, not being on Social Security Disability, so this program is keeping me alive. Thanks to them; they're keeping me alive."

Julia Wise is the executive director of Highland County Community Action, home of Wilmington and the former DHL air park. Her county has a 14 percent unemployment rate and she says reduced funding will have a dramatic effect on her community.

"People say the recovery's happening: we believe that in our county it's going to be a lot longer. And across the country, community action agencies truly do make the difference for many people; the majority of these people are working people that are just trying to get by, and the economy has really hurt them."

Besides the reduction of CSBG funds in the President's budget, the remaining 50 percent would be put into a federally-controlled, competitive process, ending flexible, local control of how the funds are used by agencies that help people. The grant provides $25 million a year to Ohio's 50 Community Action Agencies, which serve 800,000 people annually.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH