Teamwork Is Key In The Face Of New Challenges
The Representative Payee (Rep-Payee) department at Community Crossroads currently helps over 300 people of varying income levels better manage their money, understand the importance of saving money, and pay bills on time so one does not lose assets such as their home and car. Rep-Payee Manager Deanna Johnson and two others, Julia Hornbaker and Irene Moge work as a team to make sure problems are solved and that all in the department have a basic understanding of what the situation involves when somebody calls.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused this to be a difficult time for many, and Dee noted some of the new challenges that people are facing. “Not having enough money to survive has been a big challenge for people. Food has become much more expensive during this time, and when you are on a very limited budget to start with there is not enough money to buy food.” In recent months, the department has helped individuals apply for food stamps, and then hear that they’ve been told they make too much money and don’t qualify. We have given directions to food banks, only for them to be closed due to COVID-19.” She emphasized that it has been a “heartbreaking year”.
Members of Representative Payee department – Deanna Johnson, Julia Hornbaker and Irene Moge
Dee, also the Employment Manager, noted people out of work has resulted in people struggling because they don’t have the extra money. Whether they were laid off, have a compromised immune system so they decided not to work during this time, or having trouble finding a job in the first place, Dee said it is sad to see people struggling in the ways they are.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that after decades of growth in terms of employment for those with disabilities, the unemployment rate reached 18.9% in April 2020 (compared to the national 14.7% unemployment rate), and as of November 2020 was 12.3% (compared to the national 6.7% unemployment rate).
Conversations between case managers and vendors have been extra crucial this year. Dee noted this has been an unpredictable year with people losing jobs, reporting to Social Security, unemployment, NH Medicaid, applying for food stamps, needing bank statements and more. Many times, people will need assistance when it comes to correctly filling out the information so they can receive the assistance they are trying to get. Connections with vendors assist the department to better serve each person.
Dee explained the department continues to work as hard as they can to ensure that our individuals are taken care of the best they can. She encourages people to look online for resources that could help themself such as food banks, and to be open with case managers and counselors when it comes to these types of issues so they can help find a solution.
She noted, “let’s just hope that 2021 is a better year”.