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Sequester Will Impact North Carolina's Most Vulnerable

March 29, 2013

NEWPORT, N.C. – Community Action Agencies across North Carolina, already faced with large workloads, are bracing for the impact of federal budget cuts known as the sequester.

The 36 agencies serve thousands of North Carolina families and seniors through a variety of programs.

Paula Dickson, executive director of Coastal Community Action in Newport, says her organization faces some tough decisions.

"If we lay off staff, then we are creating more unemployment problems,” she says. “And then we are decreasing our ability to provide the best of services."

Dickson hopes she'll only have to cut hours rather than lay employees off.

The agency's Head Start program, which serves more than 700 children, will see a $300,000 cut due to the sequester.

Cuts to Community Action Agencies will take place this September, but agencies like Dickson's are working now to minimize the impact.

She says another very vulnerable program because of sequester cuts is her organization’s weatherization program, which provides heating, cooling and energy efficiency assistance to people in need, especially seniors.

"This is a service that our state needs badly,” she says. “All we have to do is drive around our rural areas and look at the condition of houses, and can see the wind blows through, whether it's cold or hot."

The sequester is a set of automatic spending cuts put in place as a result of the Budget Control Act. The initial intent of the law was to pressure Congress to come up with a long-term plan for deficit reduction.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - NC