Potential income gaps deter would-be workers living on the breadline

September 01, 2017

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Ricky Bogan had heard that if he got a job, any financial help he was getting from the county would end.

“Now you’re struggling to catch up,” he said. “Social services find out you’re working, now they shut you off. ‘How do I pay the rent?’ A lot of times, that’s what I used to hear.”

It’s not true.

State law dictates the adjustments to a person’s financial assistance and county support when that individual gets a job. But the law is complex, and it can leave recipients confused about what will actually happen and fearful they’ll be on their own. In some cases, the perception about what happens during the transition from public assistance may be a barrier to someone seeking a job.

Bogan said that when he informed the county’s Department of Social Services that he had a job, they gradually reduced his assistance. Bogan, who has worked at TruForm Manufacturing for more than a year, said it has taken him a while to learn to manage his finances.

He said before he got direct deposit for his paycheck, he would spend the money. “And the rent is due next week. … I’m starting to get on track now.”

The county earlier this year developed a partnership with Rochester Rehabilitation to act as a net for people who no longer were receiving cash assistance. The Paths to Empowerment program provides individuals with six months of coaching in skills such as how to keep a job and how to manage money, and the program offers drop-in child care to participants.

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