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Economic Statistics in CT Show Recession is Still Alive

December 7, 2009

NORWALK, Conn. - Many economists claim the recession is over, but those on the front lines helping Connecticut families aren't seeing the evidence yet. Community Action Agencies in the state are still seeing record numbers of people needing help with heat, hunger, health and homelessness. Joe Mann, executive director of one such agency, Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now, Inc. (NEON), says the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program officially started its new year November 1, and by one month into the program, the number of those eligible for help has multiplied by 125 percent.

"We've reached a point, already at this juncture, that we were at the year prior for the whole year. And that just tells you that there's a lot of folks that need assistance."

Mann says that, while he can rattle off plenty of statistics about how the economy is affecting working families, he wants everyone to remember that those numbers reflect the plights of real people. Mann says Community Action Agencies around the state are asking lawmakers to keep people in mind when considering more budget cuts in the coming weeks.

"We're very, very concerned with the state of the budget, and we just want to make sure it doesn't hurt further these people that are already hurt."

Mann says he's heard about people living in tents because they can't afford to pay for heat, or pay for a furnace to be fixed. The goal of his organization and other Community Action Agencies is to help people become self-sufficient, but he says it's a tough task when the state's unemployment has increased over 40 percent in a year, while the cost of living is up more 20 percent.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - CT