Carroll Commission votes to cover gap in state aid

February 06, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Carroll County will pick up the tab for the next five months for a cash-strapped state program that provides emergency assistance to poor and disabled adults.

The commissioners approved spending $50,000 yesterday to cover no more than 18 new applicants each month through June.

"This is a safety net we're throwing out," Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said.

The state instituted a six-month freeze last month on applications for the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance program, which provides $185 a month to disabled people. The program faces a $5 million deficit and is running out of money.

The state plans to resume funding the program after July 1.

In the meantime, counties such as Carroll are faced with turning away residents who need the financial assistance. This week, Carroll's Department of Social Services asked the commissioners to cover the cost of the program.

Carroll residents relying on the monthly payments have included those with bipolar disorder, AIDS, clinical depression and Lyme disease, said James A. Mayola, assistant director of the department's family investment administration.

The county has 163 residents receiving assistance through the state program, Mayola said.

Last week, Minnich expressed concerns that nonresidents would take advantage of the county's extension of benefits.

But Mayola assured the commissioners yesterday that there are safeguards in place, including a residency requirement. The Social Services Department can also check a statewide database to see whether an applicant is receiving assistance elsewhere, Mayola said.

"We don't think it'll open up a floodgate," he said.

After the meeting, Mayola said he believes that Carroll County is the only local government temporarily taking over funding of the state program.

"Our commissioners are very caring, and they are looking to offer services to a part of our population that needs some assistance and some hope," he said.

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