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South County Services gets boost

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539 N. Lincoln Way Galt CA

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 12:00 am

South County Services can help more area residents struggling to pay rent and utilities, thanks to a monetary boost from the Elk Grove City Council.

Late last month, council members in Elk Grove approved increasing grant funding to Galt-based South County Services by nearly $5,000. The organization assists residents who live in Galt, Elk Grove and other south Sacramento County communities who have fallen on hard times and need help paying utility and housing bills. It also provides support through food banks, transportation and lowto no-cost health care.

Last year, it provided more than 27,000 services across the region, according to director Marylou Powers.

Now the organization has been certified to educate residents about the Affordable Care Act through a grant from Sacramento Employment and Training Agency.

“Once it gets rolling, I think people will want to know about it, but now I find there are people who haven’t even heard of the Affordable Care Act,” said South County’s Christy Wallin, who has been tasked with distributing information such as the website www.coveredca.com. “The basic thing is that ... everyone deserves health insurance.”

In future, the organization plans to hold formal meetings with Galt-area residents to connect them to people who can help get them covered under the new health insurance rules. To date, Wallin estimates she has helped at least 100 residents.

“Most people are going to be required to have health care, so they need to have the information,” Wallin said.

South County Services is not an official county program. Instead, its funding comes from various county programs such as SETA, federal grants for food and shelter, city appropriations, citizen donations and fundraisers. A portion of the funding is earmarked for its four employees, although much of the work delivering food or driving senior citizens to doctors’ appointments is performed by volunteers.

Other so-called “safety net” services include a senior companion program, monthly grocery delivery for seniors and families, an emergency food closet and utility/rent supplemental assistance. It can also provide gas vouchers for residents headed to job interviews and pet food for residents’ cats and dogs, as pets are often the only companions some seniors have, according to Powers.

“We try to help people when they are on their last legs,” she said. “Sometimes we’re the last link to them losing their shelter or utilities.”

Assistance is based on income level.

In March, South County Services handled more requests for rent and utility assistance from Elk Grove households than it could fund, according to Powers, who is also Galt’s mayor.

The boost from the Elk Grove City Council will help about 70 families, she said, adding that it cannot go to residents who live outside city limits or to fund overhead.

Since 2006, 56 percent of funding from SETA has gone to Elk Grove residents, Powers said.

In the spring, Elk Grove council members approved more than $13,000 in Community Development Block Grants for South County Services after years of requests, according to Powers.

But the city held off on finalizing the amount until hearing from the federal government that funds the grant programs, according to meeting minutes. The city had actually prepared for a 5 percent decrease in funding from last fiscal year, but ended up getting more money, so council members increased the funding to SCS to $18,340.

Galt awarded the organization $25,000 a couple of years ago, before Powers was a member of the Galt City Council.

Still, she said, the amount of funding the organization receives has decreased, while the number of requests for assistance has increased.

“Every year, we hope we can continue to serve people down here in south county,” Power said. “We’re the lone outpost out here in Sacramento County.”

For more information about South County Services or to donate money or pet food, call 209-745-9174 or email info@southcountyservices.org. The office is located at 539 N. Lincoln Way, Galt.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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