OC Social Services help as many as they can
Despite the current state of the economy, and unemployment on the rise around the nation, the Orange County Social Services have not seen an influx of people knocking down the proverbial door.
In fact, director Jennifer Haney can count the number of new applicants on one hand … literally.
“We have had five applicants file under the new guidelines,” Haney said. “We really haven’t had an increase in applicants like some think we might have.”
The new guidelines Haney speaks of is the minimum percentage of the poverty level income being raised in the county from the state requirement of 21 percent to 49 percent of monthly income this past year.
Under this increase, a family of five which would have received $458 under the state’s 21 percent can get $1,069 under the 49 percent.
Applicants are re-evaluated every three months to see if they can keep receiving the assistance, Haney said. The numbers for 2011 under the new guideline were approved by the Commissioners’ Court on Monday.
“The commissioners approved the new guideline because they want to be able to help as many people as they can,” Haney said. “Raising the percentage under the new guideline was able to be done without affecting the budget.”
Haney said that she thinks the reason they have not seen as many applicants approved is because people do not want to fill out the proper paperwork and give the mandatory information required.
“We’ve had people come by and ask, but a majority do not follow through,” she said. “I think it is because they do not want to fill out the required paperwork.”
In the completed application, applicants must provide proof they are an Orange County resident such as: a driver’s license, mail addressed to their current address or a voter’s registration card. Social Security cards must be supplied for all household members along with proof of income for all members of the household.
A current bank statement must be provided, as well as savings account passbooks, a recent copy of their income tax return, copies of all insurance policies, a letter from their last employer if unemployed, proof of registration for unemployment, any pending lawsuits, proof of social security insurance and food stamps and documentation showing any divorce or legal separation.
“We can help provide basic medical care and even specialized if needed for those who fulfill the application process and are approved,” Haney said. “We can also cover three prescriptions a month, as we are contracted with certain pharmacies.”
Haney said that the office is also associated with Memorial Hermann Baptist Orange Hospital, Gulf Coast Health Center in Orange and Main Street Medical in Vidor for basic medical and with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for specialized care.