OAKLAND — Some of the 70- plus employees with Garrett County Community Action who will experience layoffs or furloughs may be able to collect unemployment, according to Duane Yoder, president of GCCA.
The agency has to eliminate $300,000 in spending for the remainder of this fiscal year as the result of the federal government’s budget sequestration. Those employees who are laid off for a month or two will be eligible for unemployment but the employees who are furloughed may not be, depending on the formula that the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance uses, Yoder said.
Three employees with the weatherization program were laid off permanently. GCCA is still able to do weatherization quality control or audit work with private contracts, said Yoder.
“We are doing the best we can,” said Yoder. “This is painful. At some point this makes a difference and it matters. We have reached that point.”
The 5 percent cuts to GCCA programs and services also caused the reduction in the number of people aided by the emergency housing assistance used to prevent homelessness and caused a weekly day of operation to be cut from the Flowery Vale Senior Wellness Center in Accident. The senior center will be closed on Fridays.
“Five percent doesn’t sound like much but when it’s compressed it’s more like 10 percent,” said Yoder, who noted that GCCA has half a year to cut out a full year. The fiscal year ends June 30.
The number of people aided by the emergency housing assistance will likely be cut from 80 to 60 by the end of the year, according to Yoder. Emergency housing assistance makes monthly payments to those at risk of losing their house or apartment.
Emergency housing assistance is still using fiscal 2012 federal funds and won’t be affected until the beginning of their fiscal year on Oct. 1, according to Yoder. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is behind a year in funding, said Yoder.
Also, because of the cuts, Garrett County Head Start and Early Head Start operations will close for one month in 2013. Yoder noted that he is worried about the impact the cut will have on the school readiness of Head Start children entering kindergarten.
“With Head Start, we worked hard to get positive outcomes in Garrett County scores. I’m afraid with the cuts that we will start losing that ground,” said Yoder.
Yoder is hopeful that President Barack Obama and Congress will come up with a fiscal 2014 budget so that more cuts don’t have to be made.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at firstname.lastname@example.org.