WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published September 28, 2010, 03:55 PM

More People in Grand Forks Area Seeking Federal Assistance

The number of people in our area seeking help to pay for their food, heat and rent are on the rise.

The number of people applying for Assistance is on the rise. Grand Forks County Social Services is staying busy with all the new applications coming in and they expect to see more in the near future.

As we continue to dig out of the economic recession, more and more people are applying for assistance and not only for food. For the past three years Grand Forks County Social Services has had more people applying for federal assistance.

"The past two years its increased about ah 750 cases and last year about 250 so hopefully the increase is slowing down," said Ed Christ, the Social Services Assistant Director.

The number of applications have been decreasing from last year but they are still spending 800 thousand dollars on food assistance programs.

"People coming from across the country because they were hearing that North Dakota was not effected by the recession so a number of people are coming here looking for work," said Christ.

As of August Grand Forks County has 6,048 people using food assistance. That compares to Burleigh County with 5,858 people and Cass County leading North Dakota with 11,617 people needing food stamps. With all these people applying for assistance Grand Forks county has had to hire new staff to help with the case load.

"That is it takes almost a year to train a worker in so even though we hire them its a quite a learning curve so it takes a long time before they can help us out with the cases," Christ said.

Christ says it could be worse because only 65 percent of eligible people in North Dakota are actually using the programs available.

"We typically have one of the lower participation rates and I think that's part of our Scandinavian up bringing as people try to be as independent as possible," Christ said.

Christ says this time of year their case load goes up even more with people looking for fuel assistance to heat their homes.