According to an Aug. 6 article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, 9 percent of Georgia’s workers are unemployed, while another 16.4 percent are underemployed. And these numbers don’t include those whose unemployment benefits have expired and were dropped from the rolls of the unemployed.
Many unemployed and underemployed people have mortgages they cannot pay or have gotten behind in payments. Dana Ingram, executive director for JCVision & Associates Inc., said there is help out there, but many people don’t know where to find it.
“A lot of people don’t know about HomeSafe Georgia, and many of those who do no longer have access to the Internet,” Ingram said, explaining one of the first things people cut back on when their budgets get tight is Internet service. “We have people who’re trained to upload the (HomeSafe Georgia) applications and help people successfully apply for assistance.”
JCVision & Associates is a faith-based organization founded by Ingram 12 years ago in Hinesville.
HomeSafe Georgia is a program intended to help struggling homeowners by providing “bridge” mortgage assistance to the unemployed or those who’ve had a dramatic decrease in their income at no fault of their own. Of the $7.6 billion allocated to 18 states hardest hit by the recession, Ingram said $356 million went to Georgia. However, she noted that the majority of applicants who have been approved for the assistance live in or near Atlanta.
“The online application packets that are not complete or not completed correctly are pushed aside,” Ingram said. “I wrote their office and complained that an unfair majority of applicants from the Atlanta area were being approved, and we have a lot of people in need right here.”
She said during the following quarter, the HomeSafe Georgia website posted a map of recipients that validated her complaint. The majority of approved applicants were in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Ingram said her organization assists with the HomeSafe application, and they make the process less difficult and less stressful. So far, she said they’ve helped 70 households in the community.
She said they also assist with food-stamp applications, utilities assistance and school uniforms. They even have someone on staff to help with taxes.
Her staff makes sure there is no tax lien against the property, as being up-to-date on one’s taxes is a requirement for qualification.
Ingram said her organization operates on a small budget through grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“We work closely with the United Way, Manna House and the city’s Homeless Prevention Program,” she said. “We get less than $50,000 a year, and I have a staff of four with one volunteer.”
Ingram said she’d appreciate more volunteer support to help with outreach efforts to inform the community about HomeSafe Georgia, either packaging application forms or answering the phone. She said her one volunteer qualified for the HomeSafe Georgia program and now feels the need to help others.
To find out more about HomeSafe Georgia, go to www.homesafegeorgia.com. To receive assistance with the application process or to volunteer, call 877-4243.