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MCCOG hikes funding for HR seniors

Senior citizens in Hood River County will soon receive $131,390 in additional services from the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments (MCCOG).

John Arens, MCCOG executive director, said added Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and Medicaid match funding will be distributed to both outreach and direct service programs that include transportation, meals, veteran services and respite care.

By utilizing a 25 percent Medicaid match, Arens said Columbia Area Transit will be eligible in fiscal year 2002-03 to increase its ridership opportunities for seniors with an additional $71,250 in AAA funding.

The Mt. Hood congregate and home-delivered meals program will also have its AAA budget doubled to $12,000, and $15,140 more dollars will be channeled through the Community Action Program for Lifespan respite care.

A new respite program at Brookside Manor will gain $3,000 in AAA dollars and area veterans will be provided with up to $30,000 of additional services with a one-to-one Medicaid match through the county veteran's department.

Arens said MCCOG also recently helped the Pioneer Potlatch program, serving Odell and Cascade Locks, get matching funds to make a $1,492 repair on its freezer and obtain a 50-55 cent USDA subsidy per meal in the upcoming fiscal year.

"We will soon be going through an assessment process using a questionnaire to determine what services are needed and in which area of our region they are needed," said Arens.

He said the client survey would assist MCCOG in developing a customized program for each of its service areas, which includes Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties.

Out of MCCOG's projected $563,879 AAA budget for 2002-03, Arens said $20,000 is available upon request by Hood River service providers. He said agencies qualifying for the Medicaid match program could double the amount of AAA funding they receive. Applications for those dollars can be requested from Susan Lowe, direct service manager, by calling (541) 298-4101 or 1-800-831-8217.

Arens said MCCOG has also reduced senior service staffing costs by $56,242. He said that budget has been trimmed from $234,311 to $178,069 through him absorbing the duties of the vacant program director position and cutting his staff from six full-time and five part-time employees to two full-time and five part-time workers.

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