Employees who might be kept from their work by temporary money problems could get short-term loans to keep them on the job if a county social service agency can match an anonymous $10,000 contribution.

Human Services Programs officials hope the project will be in effect by the end of the year.

By stipulation of the donor, "we cannot touch the $10,000 that isin there until we match it," said Lynda Gainor, HSP's deputy director. "We have to start with $20,000.

"We will accept goods and services, as well as money, to match the contribution," she said.

The Short Term Crisis Fund, under consideration since the donation was received some 14 months ago, will serve as a "last resort" to keep a financial setback from interfering with an individual's ability to work.

"What we will do is offer people a loan if we are unable to help them through one of our other programs," said Gainor.

For example,she said money will be lent if someone has a child care crisis, a car repair that is keeping him or her from getting to work or needs work supplies to perform a job.

As yet, HSP has no data on anticipated demand. It plans to develop those figures along the way, Gainor said.

The crisis fund was suggested by members of the Community Services Council, who believed some clients made too much money to qualifyfor the usual financial aid.

"We were looking to help people who were over the income eligibility limits for financial assistance," Gainor said.

This included HSP and other programs, such as through the Department of Social Services and the Job Training Partnership, she said.

For instance, a family of four whose gross monthly income is $1,057 would not be eligible for other financial assistance programs offered by Human Services, but would be eligible for the Short Term Crisis Fund.

"We need to verify that the person actually needs help. When we take an application we ask for a pay certification for the last 30 days and where the money was spent for the last 30 days, so we can establish if there is truly a need," Gainor said.

Upon approval, the applicant would sign a loan agreement and HSP would loan up to $250 in cash or services for one year at no interest.

If theborrower does not repay the loan in one year, Gainor said, he or shewill not be eligible for additional loans from the fund until the original loan is paid in full.

Fund raising is the key to getting the new program off the ground and keeping it going, Gainor said.

"Our fund raising will be ongoing," said Gainor.

"We have to keep a strong financial base.

"We are looking for matches from the community -- not necessarily in dollars, but in services or goods. If a dentist could donate $250 in dental services or a pharmacy could donate supplies -- these are the things that would be beneficial."

As of late last week, the fund had received a total of $4,800 in money, goods and services.

For information on making a contribution of money, goods or services to the Small Crisis Loan Fund, call Lynda Gainor at 857-2999 or George Giese at 848-2500.

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