By Alexandria Jud
ATLANTA - Georgia officials have six weeks left to distribute $7.6 million of federal stimulus aid to low-income families.
Congress made the money available through the Recovery Act in 2009. But Georgia waited more than a year to apply for the funding. Now, more than 113 agencies across the state are working to use all of the funds by the September 30 deadline, or lose them.
Under Georgia’s federally-funded Fresh Start program, eligible families can receive up to $3,000 to help pay for past-due mortgage, rent and utility bills. The program has already issued $3.3 million to more than 2,300 families since early June. But there’s still a backlog of over a thousand applications.
Milton Little, Jr., is the president of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, the organization responsible for administering the program. He says demand for the aid was even greater than expected, but he’s not worried about the tight time frame.
“I’m fully confident that we’re going to be able to have the money spent. We have several million dollars out of the door already," Little says. "We are very well on track to having completely exhausted the funds by September 30th.”
According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, nearly 1.3 million families across the state experienced financial hardship last year.