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Family budgeting part of plan

June 17, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - During the first three months of 1998, the Franklin County Homeless Assistance Program helped 110 families that were homeless or facing eviction.

By this time next year, there could be a program to help some families get back on their feet through what Grace Burrows called "total person counseling."

"Our goal is to work intensely with six families for six to 18 months, teaching them new skills and how to manage within their income," said Burrows, human services development coordinator for the county. She reviewed the proposal for the county commissioners Tuesday.

She said the county is drafting a three-year, $200,000 grant application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the program would be administered by the Financial Counseling Agency. Burrows said the nonprofit group aids families by teaching them about such things as budgeting and structuring repayment plans.

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Improving job skills would also be part of the program if the grant is approved, she said.

When a family gets behind in rent, their credit suffers and they can become ineligible for subsidized housing, according to Burrows.

"It's a vicious cycle," she said. "The exciting thing about this process is ... the partnership between governments, churches, businesses and other agencies."

County human service agencies would give technical support to the Financial Counseling Agency. Churches have agreed to provide mentors to work closely with each of the families, Burrows said.

Part of the money would pay for the part-time services of a case manager, training consultant and grant manager, but most would go to rental subsidies and other financial assistance, she said.

Burrows said 34 percent of the families the Homeless Assistance Program aided in the first quarter of this year were actually homeless. The size of the families ranged from two to eight people.

If HUD approves the grant, Burrows said the money would probably not be available until next summer.

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