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Shelters Gearing Up for Welfare Cuts

September 24, 1996
By: Jennifer Horton
State Capital Bureau
Local shelters and soup kitchens will have new battles to fight in just four days. On October first the Federal Welfare Reform Bill takes effect in Missouri. Shelters are working to prepare for fallout from the bill... without knowing many of the details. Jennifer Horton has more...
Story:Jennifer Horton
RunTime:
OutCue: SOC
President Clinton's Welfare Reform Bill forces Missouri to cut food stamps and enforce stricter job requirements for welfare recipients.

Shelters like Salvation Army's Harbor House in Columbia are gearing up to handle more people and more problems.

Many of the local charities say they are already working with a full house and overextended programs.

But directors of these outlets say they are sure that whatever shape the cuts come in... it will mean an even greater demand on their programs.

Tim Rich runs "Harbor House", Salvation Army's shelter and soup kitchen in Columbia.

He predicts the cuts will send even more people his way looking for help.

Actuality:Tim Rich
RunTime:
OutCue: "people of Columbia"
Contents: It's frightening to me to know that there are cuts coming and people are not prepared and will be looking to us for service and we are maxed out right now. We either need more resources or rely on the good-hearted people of Columbia.

Rich says Harbor House has recently increased its staff by joining with the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center.

He says this allows Harbor House to filter people needing special treatment to the correct facility and to hire an additional case worker.

Still, he says the ratio of clients to case workers is currently fifty to one... he suggests that will only get worse after the cuts occur.

Rich says another difficulty Harbor House will face is trying to prepare their clients for the cuts.

Actuality:Tim Rich
RunTime:
OutCue: "food stamps"
Contents: It's hard for people to understand that when people are in survival mode you don't have time to worry about, "gee are they going to cut my welfare and food stamps?"

Among the residents at Rich's Harbor House are Veronica and her children, ages two and three.

Veronica, who never gave her last name, says she has been at the shelter for about two months and the people have made a big difference in her life.

Actuality:Veronica
RunTime:
OutCue: "do help"
Contents: They've helped me out a whole lot. Helped me get where I need to be. I'd be really down... If I have a problem, I can go to one of the staff members and they really do help.

Veronica says she does have a job and hopes to make it on her own soon. Actuality:Veronica
RunTime:
OutCue: "off the government"
Contents: I know I'm staying where I'm staying and that says I'm homeless... but I'm strong and I try. I have a job. I'm also pregnant. Still I do a really good job at my job. I'm not into living off the government.

She says that life at the shelter can be very stressful... so she tries to live day by day.

She says that she focuses on working hard and doing all she can for her children...and does not read the paper or try to keep up with government changes.

Rich says this survival mode is exactly how his clients live... and the reason these changes will hit them so hard.

Other local agencies are also trying to combat the welfare cuts.

Richard Blakely is the Executive Director of the Services for Independent Living in Columbia.

His shelter serves local homeless people that have mental or physical disabilities.

He agrees there will be more people in need of help after the cuts.

Actuality:Richard Blakely
RunTime:
OutCue: "be significant"
Contents: It's going to put pressure on us to provide more and in other areas.

Blakely says that although he does not have many details on the cuts, he knows they will be significant. Actuality:Richard Blakely
RunTime:
OutCue: "help us"
Contents: Anytime there are cuts to things that effect people's survival there will be more people at the door saying please help us.

Despite the uncertainty and stress being felt by these groups... they insist the people they serve come first.

Both Rich and Blakely say they will do everything they can to help their clients... just like they always do.