Request for public assistance soars in Eagle County |

Request for public assistance soars in Eagle County

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” During February of 2008, only 15 families applied for Eagle County, Colorado food assistance programs. By Feb. 2009, that number jumped to 63 applications.

That’s a 300 percent increase.

“We are seeing a lot of families who have never needed assistance before,” says Kathleen Lyons, economic services manager for Eagle County. “For most people, its a difficult decision to make, to come in and apply for assistance.”

Eagle County’s food assistance caseload has increased 100 percent, from 141 families in February of 2008 to 290 families in February of 2009. Lyons says she is hearing many versions of a similar story these days ” two-adult households with dual incomes thrown into disarray by job loss. And, because of the economy, it is difficult for people to predict when they will get back on their feet.

“The job market just isn’t there. People are out there looking,” Lyons said.

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The income requirements for assistance are telling. To qualify a single person household must earn less than $1,127. For a four-person household, the maximum monthly income is $2,297. Those figures are balanced against the average monthly housing cost in Eagle County of $1,300.

In addition to the food assistance program, the county administers an energy assistance program and a rent/mortgage assistance program. All of these options were created for times exactly like these, says Lyons.

“It’s important for people to understand these programs are here to assist them,” she says.

To learn more about assistance programs available through Eagle County, stop by a county office in Eagle, Avon or El Jebel or visit the county’s website at

” Pam Boyd

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