Many people believe that cash assistance, food programs and other forms of public assistance provide enough to allow people living in poverty to get by, but that is not the case.
Cash assistance, called Ohio Works First (OWF), is only provided to families with children. The monthly funding is less than one-third of the monthly federal poverty level. The majority of OWF recipients are grandparents raising their grandchildren, and the second highest group of recipients is single mothers. The recipients have to meet strict requirements, including work requirements, in order to be eligible for benefits.
In 2009, a family of two will receive up to $355 per month in OWF funding, while a family of three will receive up to $434 per month.
By comparison, the federal poverty level for a family of two is $1,215 per month. For a family of three, it is $1,526 per month. Some families may also receive money for food through the Food Assistance Program, but that program is designed to only provide about two weeks worth of food per month.
The monthly income for these families is much less than the federal poverty level, and they are forced to turn to food banks and other charitable programs for assistance.
Many people living in poverty in our community have had to leave their homes to move in with family or friends or stay at shelters. Too many children live in overcrowded and unsafe homes and go to bed hungry. Grandparents who are living on fixed incomes often can’t afford the medicine or the medical care they need because all of their money goes to food and living expenses for their families.
People are living in abject poverty all around us, and we cannot allow this to continue.
The human and social service agencies in several southeastern Ohio counties are calling on state and federal leaders to make important changes to help these families.
· Ohio Works First funding must be increased by $100 a month.
· Food Assistance funding must be increased so that it can provide enough food for a whole month.
· Health care services must be available to all adults who live below the federal poverty level.
· Disability income must be increased.
· Funding for mental health and substance abuse counseling for families living below the poverty level must be increased.
These changes will not get families out of poverty, but they will make a big difference in their lives.
Please call, write or e-mail these representatives asking them to make these changes.
· Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland – Governor’s Office, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108. Phone (614) 466-3555. E-mail by logging onto http://www.governor.ohio.gov/ and then clicking on the link that says Contact The Governor.
· State Representative Debbie Phillips - Phillips represents the 92nd Ohio House District. The 92nd District Office can be reached by mail at 77 S. High St., 11th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-6111. Phone (614) 466-2158. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
· State Representative Dan Dodd – Dodd represents the 91sth District and has a mailing address at 77 S. High St., 10th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-6111. Phone (614) 466-2500 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
· State Representative Clyde Evans – Evans represents the 87th District and can be reached by mail at 77 S. High St., 13th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-6111. Phone (614) 466-1366 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
· State Representative T. Todd Book – Book represents the 89th District and can be reached by mail at 77 S. High St., 14th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-6111. Phone (614) 466-2114 or send an e-mail to email@example.com
· State Senator Jimmy Stewart – Stewart represents the 20th Senate District and can be reached by mail at Senate Building, Room #040, Ground Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215. His office phone number is (614) 466-8076 and his e-mail address is SD20@senate.state.oh.us.
· State Senator John Carey – Carey represents the 17th Senate District and can be reached by mail at Senate Building, Room 127, First Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Phone (614) 466-8156 or send an e-mail to SD17@senate.state.oh.us.
· U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, Sixth District – 226 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C., 20515. Phone 1-888-706-1833. Wilson can be e-mailed through the link on his office Web site, which is located at http://www.charliewilson.house.gov/.
· U.S. Rep Zack Space, 18th District – 315 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C., 20515. Phone (202) 225-6265. Space can be e-mailed through the link on his office Web site, which is located at space.house.gov.
· U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown – 455 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510. Phone (202) 224-2315. Send e-mails from his office Web site, brown.senate.gov.
· U.S Sen. George Voinovich – 524 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510. Phone (202) 224-3353. Send e-mails through his office Web site, voinovich.senate.gov.
· The White House – 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20500. Phone (202) 456-1111. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact Nick Claussen, community relations coordinator, Athens County Job and Family Services, at (740) 797-2523 or email@example.com.