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Program helps the financially overwhelmed

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The effects of a fledgling marriage and piling debt took a physical toll on George Richardson and nearly left him homeless.

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George Richardson sits in his home at MarJon Apartments in Augusta. He said the Economic Opportunity Authority program helped him to finally get ahead on his finances.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
George Richardson sits in his home at MarJon Apartments in Augusta. He said the Economic Opportunity Authority program helped him to finally get ahead on his finances.

The 52-year-old Augusta man and his new wife accrued debts just a few months into their marriage. When the couple split, he said, he was left with the credit card bills and a late notice. Before his marriage, Richardson said, he never had a credit card.

"I just did not have the income to satisfy the bills," said Richardson, who works as a fabrics inspector for Carole Fabrics. "I was really overwhelmed, and I didn't know what to do because I had never had these problems before."

The Navy veteran was referred to the CSRA's Economic Opportunity Authority's Homeless Prevention/Rapid Re-Housing Renters Assistance Program, which granted him with the rental and utilities assistance he needed to stay in his home.

The stimulus-funded program has thus far provided more than $50,000 in rental and utilities assistance to residents since it began in October, program coordinator Shaundra Dority said.

"For the people who have received an eviction or a late notice, we try to get them to a point where they can be self-sustained," Dority said. "It's not just a handout. We're trying to keep them in their homes."

A case manager works with clients on creating a budget, finding employment and connecting with other community resources, Dority said. The agency can provide financial assistance for up to 18 months, she said.

Devan Cupid, a case manager with the program, said she works with at least 15 families each week. Most of her clients have lost jobs.

"It's been said that the situation has improved, but that's not evident yet for a lot of my clients," she said. "More people are finding employment, but there is still a need for these services."

Though Richardson kept his job, he had to cut back his hours because of health problems ignited by stress over his finances.

"My blood pressure went up, and my doctor said I couldn't work my job like I was doing," he said.

Richardson said the renters assistance program helped him pay his rent and utilities from February until this month. The program also helped him learn to balance his budget so he could make timely credit payments, he said.

Richardson and his wife reconciled in May and celebrated their first anniversary earlier this month. He said the renters assistance program and reuniting with his wife got him back on track.

"They genuinely were concerned about my financial situation," Richardson said. "They taught me how to budget, and now my wife and I are sharing the bills and doing more cost-effective things. ... I'm finally getting ahead."

Need help?

Renters in danger of being evicted from their homes as a result of loss of employment or other qualifying, documentable crises can apply for assistance. Eligible renters will receive case management services, budget assistance and supplemental financial assistance for rent and/or utilities. Renters with an annual income of $19,500 for a household of one up to $36,700 for a household of eight are eligible for the assistance. For more information, call Devan Cupid at (706) 724-8588.

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johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 06/30/10 - 06:49 am
0
0
Please! The stimulus funded

Please! The stimulus funded (taxpayer paid) program provided more than $50k for debt relief .... or we can say, another subsidy program paid for by the taxpayer and distributed by the imperial federal government provides relief for people unable or unwilling to deal with debt they personally incurred. Personal responsibility is being destroyed in an effort to make people feel good? What kind of reasoning is that?
SOCIALISM DOESN'T WORK!!!!

vetbubba99
6
Points
vetbubba99 06/30/10 - 07:13 am
0
0
What about the new FRESH

What about the new FRESH START program that is similar to this. Called to see if Mr. Devan knew about it, but he said he did not. Somebody said United Way is doing it maybe later but I can't find out where to go? The web said you can get up to $3000 a family and somebody in Augusta should be doing it. Would like to know more about this program and how to apply. A lot of people I know were not able to get the funds Mr. Devan talks about but may be able to get this other because they do have kids. Someone please let us know about this.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 06/30/10 - 08:07 am
0
0
OMG......a 52 year old man

OMG......a 52 year old man can't balance his budget?......I protest...why in hades should my Grandchildren AND their children pay for this healthy and somewhat coherent man's rent????

disssman
6
Points
disssman 06/30/10 - 08:53 am
0
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A program that has been

A program that has been issueing money to people since October. And they have given out $50,000 since then. And they have a paid coordinator (probably making $80,000 a year) and numerous case workers (probably making $40,000 a year each). It would appear that the office is just a little top heavy in the budget. Of course none of this money was allocated by our elected representatives in city hall, was it? Hard to tell without a transparent budget to see where all the money goes. Oh well, keep electing the same old "stakeholders" because the section 8 slum lords need them in office.

corgimom
34023
Points
corgimom 06/30/10 - 09:28 am
0
0
So the moral of this story is

So the moral of this story is go get credit cards that you don't need, rack them up, and when you can't pay the bills, someone will help you?

My tax dollars are paying for this nonsense?

What is WRONG with this country?

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 06/30/10 - 09:34 am
0
0
I was on unemployment

I was on unemployment benefits for 76 weeks. A part time job came along about the time my benenfits ran out. I had been looking for work the entire 76 weeks as unemployment benefits just barely kept my noseholes above water. This part itme job has varying hours every week, last week I was only able to work 8 hours. I am still looking for full time work, or even another part time job, but where do I go for assistance in the meantime? Department of Labor says I have exhausted all my unemployment benefits, I went through four extensions, and there is nothing more they can do for me, except allow to search for a job through their database. I tried that and it turned out to be a big joke. A total waste of time.

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 06/30/10 - 09:37 am
0
0
And you wonder where your tax

And you wonder where your tax dollars are going. now you have reconciled with the wife that ruined your finances and your health.I hope you have taken those credit cards and cut them up ,before she blows them up again. You are 52 years old you can't control your finances or your wifes spending....Did you not understand what got you in trouble in the first place. And now Vetbubba you want a piece of that pie. I'm sure if you use all of the"NET WORKING" skills that i knowyou have been working, you'll find that $ 3000. you think you deserve. "I WANT SOME OF THAT OBAMA MONEY "

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 06/30/10 - 09:38 am
0
0
corgimom- I hope you did not

corgimom- I hope you did not vote for Obama, because this is the hope and change he was talking about. He is hoping to get everyone dependent on government so he can change the economic status of America. Does the term; heil Obama, have a ring to it?

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 06/30/10 - 09:51 am
0
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You people should read this

You people should read this article again. Mr. Richardson said he'd never had a credit card before his marriage. In fact, it sounds like he didn't have any debt until his marriage. I'm not trying to make his wife sound bad, but it looks like she put him in the poor house and left him with debt which effected his health, and caused him to have to cut back on his hours at work. Yes, it is highly possible that someone who has never had to deal with credit cards before could get in over their head, especially when someone else leaves them stuck with a bill. Separation and divorce are two of the main reasons other than sudden unemployment that honest hard working people get in debt. Some don't look for assistance until after they become so stressed that their health is effected. I guess some of you would want this guy to have a heart attack or stroke and die from all the stress of not being able to pay his bills, which seems like was a first for him. I suppose none of you give anyone credit for trying. I can only hope you all remain gainfully employed and that your situation never reverses so that you need assistance one day.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 06/30/10 - 09:59 am
0
0
King James, what does his bad

King James, what does his bad decision have to do with anything, lots of people make bad decisions but that doesn't mean that tax payer money has to pay the price for it. Losing a job is a lot different from marrying a woman and getting yourself in debt to try to please her......

anotherlook
99
Points
anotherlook 06/30/10 - 10:21 am
0
0
Vetbubba99, in order to get

Vetbubba99, in order to get in touch with the Fresh Start Program you need only call the United Way 211 line. The UW screens the applicants for this program. Dissman...what non-profit have You worked for???? In this area case managers for non-profits barely make $30k a year; even with a 4 year degree and years of experience. And yes folks, these funds were probably authorized by the ARRA. But honestly, this financial crisis has impacted many folks who have worked all of their lives and have never relied upon government assistance and find that they just can't survive without help. After over a year to two years or more of unemployment even the most responsible folks run out of resources. Should we just abandon these folks and their families? Or is it solely the banks and investment companies who deserve our compassion and assistance?

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 06/30/10 - 10:22 am
0
0
Just like Ester used to tell

Just like Ester used to tell Fred "Ole Fool " I sure miss Fred Sanford .

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 06/30/10 - 12:00 pm
0
0
Maninthemirror, have you

Maninthemirror, have you emailed our senators and congresspersons to ask them to support an extension including a Tier 5? They have been discussing it for weeks but won't pass the bill. Let them hear from you if you have not yet done so. You worked all your life, voted, paid taxes. You deserve a little help right now.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 06/30/10 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Stillamazed, two incomes

Stillamazed, two incomes could have probably kept Richardson from needing assistance. He did fine until he was married. That's when his wife ran up the bills and left. I don't know if you've ever been divorced or separated, but you should know that it can be a financial nightmare for both the husband and the wife. I think Richardson's only bad decision was taking his wife back after he got out of debt. I would never have done that. Other than that, he's just like anyone else who might need assistance. You should quit thinking about yourself all the time. Better yet, figure out exactly how much of the $50,000 came from YOUR taxes and go down to this agency and ask for it back. Your share might come to $2.00 (doubt it, though). I could understand if you were talking about a welfare case, but you're mad about people who haven't needed help before getting a little bit of assistance. Are you that cold hearted?

corgimom
34023
Points
corgimom 06/30/10 - 09:37 pm
0
0
I have no sympathy for people

I have no sympathy for people that run up credit cards and then say, 'Oh, I'm in trouble, I can't pay my bills."

Do they not know that everything you charge on a charge card, you have to pay it back plus more?

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