Hidalgo Co. Agency's New Assistance Method Frustrating Applicants

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EDINBURG – Allocating funds for nearly 120,000 eligible low-income families is impossible on a limited budget.

The Hidalgo County Community Service agency helps low-income families pay their electricity bill. The agency can only afford to help six percent of the community.

Previously, the agency helped on a first-come, first-serve basis. Executive Director, Jaime Longoria said that system caused health and safety concerns.

“We were concerned because we had people that were spending the night here. And not only spending one night, but they were spending two nights anticipating assistance. For instance, they'd show up on a Saturday, spend all of Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, all of Sunday, Sunday night, and want to be first in line on Monday morning,” said Longoria.

A ticket system was implemented to curve the growing dilemma. The new method involves a selection process.

Doors open twice a day, either before 8:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Families that show up before the scheduled time are given a ticket, after presenting the proper paperwork. Then 15 random numbers are drawn. Anyone not selected is encouraged to return and try their luck again.

Longoria said this new method ensures fairness and stretches their buck for the hot summer season.

Longoria confessed he too has face financial struggles and knows what it’s like trying to make ends meet.

In spite of the initial backlash for the new system, he believes this random selection process is the best way to ensure a fair shot for assistance to all families in need.

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