Matura Executive Director Ron Ludwig said the general assistance money for fiscal year 2018 was already gone when he met with the Union County Board of Supervisors to discuss Matura’s 2019 fiscal year budget request Monday at the board’s regular weekly meeting.
Ludwig, who was not asking for an increase in funding for Matura for the next fiscal year, said it is the organization’s intent to decrease the yearly maximum amount of assistance available per household from $1,000 to $300.
By implementing such a drastic decrease, it is the hope of Matura that it can stretch the money further and help more people, said Marcy Lane, Creston Matura Outreach manager.
Matura is allocated only $10,000 a year for a general assistance fund to help with emergency financial needs. With the closing of the Ferrara Candy Company and CHS plants, in addition to the colder than normal temperatures at the beginning of the year, Lane said they have seen an increase in the need for assistance.
“I can help people with one month of current rent. I can’t go backward. It has to be current,” Lane said of her ability to help when money is available. “I can help with utility bills, as long as they’re current – usually water. I have on occasion helped people with medications if it was life-sustaining.”
Lane said even though the general assistance fund is gone, Matura is still able to offer a bit of assistance.
“It depends on what it is that they need,” Lane said. “I have some utility money and I can help them with that versus what it is they’re asking for. [For example, ] if they come in for rent and I have money for utilities, but not rent, I can help them with their utilities and free up money for rent. It’s just kind of a juggling act sometimes.”
In situations such as this, when general assistance funding is unavailable, Lane said she can usually refer people to Southern Iowa Rural Housing Authority (SIRHA) if they need help with their rent.
For utilities, she said, “I can refer them to the churches, but usually the Minister’s Alliance brings those funds to me to distribute through my crisis program.”
With the fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30, Matura still has roughly five months left before money is reallocated for the 2019 fiscal year.