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Sep
10
2015
City seeks AmeriCorps VISTA applicants for water bill assistance program

The City and the Western Arizona Council of Governments (WACOG) are planning a program to assist low-income individuals facing disconnection of their water service. And the City asks local people to apply for a position with this project through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

City seeks AmeriCorps VISTA applicants for water bill assistance program

Local applicants encouraged to fill immediate need

The City and the Western Arizona Council of Governments (WACOG) are planning a program to assist low-income individuals facing disconnection of their water service. And the City asks local people to apply for a position with this project through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

The program is being designed to assist low-income residents facing a hardship situation where they cannot pay their city services bill and are on course to have their water service disconnected. While details of the program are still being worked out, qualifying residents will likely be limited to one such assistance payment per year, said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson.

For this program, the VISTA member will work with City staff from several departments, and will work directly and jointly with WACOG.

The City hopes to fill this position through VISTA as soon as possible. Potential applicants are encouraged to respond promptly.

Applicants should apply through the AmeriCorps VISTA website, which can be found at https://my.americorps.gov. This position cannot be applied for through the City’s website.

(The direct link for those viewing this on email or a webpage is here.)

While the position is open to all, the City encourages local applicants. “It would be great if we could recruit local residents, since they are likely to have an interest in making their local community a better place,” said the City’s Grants Coordinator and VISTA Supervisor Laurie Neinast.

Recent college graduates in particular are a good fit with VISTA, but applicants also include established professionals who may be between jobs or are taking a break in order to make a difference for communities. One VISTA program member currently assisting the City with another project has substantial professional accomplishment, for example, but is in Yuma currently caring for an elderly family member and found VISTA to be a good fit.

Part of VISTA’s mission is to fight poverty, and it is among low-income individuals where the City has noticed growth in hardships resulting in service disconnections.

“A lot of times, we find these cases occur in older homes that may not have the types of water-efficient amenities found in newer homes,” explained Utilities Director Jay Simonton.

Older properties may have higher maintenance costs, increasing the likelihood that basic repairs go undone. Unrepaired properties can lead to hazardous conditions, which in turn can accumulate until the residents face housing condemnation and eviction.

“That’s a health and safety risk to some of our most vulnerable residents,” Simonton said.

The City’s goal is to develop and implement a program that will identify residents who face these situations and help them find the support and assistance needed as well as provide information and education to help prevent these situations from reoccurring.

The program is expected to cost around $40,000, Wilkinson said, which comes from delinquency fees charged on city services bills.

Local residents interested in more information concerning the AmeriCorps VISTA program may contact Neinast at (928) 373-5006.

 

 

About AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty. Under an idea originated by President John F. Kennedy and then put in place under President Lyndon Johnson, VISTA is a domestic version of the Peace Corps. VISTA members spend a year of full-time service.

VISTA members support the program’s purpose through three primary objectives: 1) encouraging volunteer service at the local level, 2) generating the commitment of private sector resources, and 3) strengthening local agencies and organizations that serve low-income communities. Currently over 7,000 VISTA members serve throughout the nation.

Upon completion of their one-year term, VISTA members have the option of receiving a cash award or education award as designated annually by AmeriCorps. There are also some student loan deferrals available, outlined annually by AmeriCorps.