AJFC eligible to receive federal funding

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 10, 2009

NATCHEZ — Residents of Adams County now have the opportunity to gain a government stimulus-funded education that will lead to future employment and success.

Through the Career Recovery Opportunity Program, which is overseen by AJFC Community Action Agency, Inc., county citizens — along with six other AJFC specified counties — will be eligible to receive funding.

“Three areas we said we would focus on are education, employment and housing issues dealing with foreclosure,” said Barbara Stewart, a program director with AJFC.

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A news release from the AJFC said the CROP program is designed to help job seekers better prepare themselves for the job market.

“The wages earned will provide a direct stimulus to the economies of local communities in our service area.”

The funds were appropriated to the AJFC’s Community Service Block Grant program through the Mississippi Department of Human Resources for the sole purpose of assisting job seekers and people facing home foreclosures.

Stewart said the purpose of the grant money matches the intent of the AJFC.

“Our mission is to reduce the causes and conditions of poverty in a land of plenty,” Stewart said.

The AJFC received $950,946 in CSBG money — an amount Stewart said has been projected to assist approximately 300 people residing in the seven chosen counties.

However, since the money is only being appropriated until Sept. 30, 2010, Stewart said funding will be offered for training in areas that take a year or less to complete, such as truck driving and certified nursing assistantships or cosmetology, to name a few.

Stewart said the program is ideal for people who had started training for their licenses but for various reasons had not completed the programs they were attending.

“I talked to a person who stated they had a real estate license previously, and they left that and went into teaching,” Stewart said. “Now they have retired from teaching, and they would like to go back into real estate, but their license is expired. We will pay for that sort of thing.”

The AJFC has not specified schools or colleges for Adams County citizens to attend to receive financial help in gaining their licenses, but said the only criterion was attending a certified educational facility.

The CROP program also offers students or teachers tutoring sessions if they have had trouble passing state and Praxis exams.

In reference to housing and mortgage situations, Stewart said the AJFC would consider making mortgage payments if circumstances surrounding the late payments meet the organization’s criteria.

“It’s specifically for those persons whose homes are about to be foreclosed on,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the circumstances leading to the imminent foreclosure, such as illnesses or surgeries, would also be reviewed by the AJFC.

Once the homeowner financially gets back on his or her feet, Stewart said the program would turn payments back over to him or her.

To apply for the CROP program, contact the AJFC Community Action Agency in Natchez a 601-445-8878.