CO's need for welfare support hasn't decreased

Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 01:21:38-04

For Rynn Bell, making ends meet hasn't always been easy.

"Being a single mother with no other income, sometimes you just need that assistance to get you from point A to point B," said Bell.

But after 13 years of turning to Jefferson County Human Services for help, she is almost ready to break away.

"I’m at a point right now where I’m trying to get over the cliff,” said Bell.

Bell says getting there couldn’t have been possible without the Jefferson County Prosperity Project. The project offers tools for low-income families that eventually allows them to be independent.

“You get kids to get a diploma and the parents to be self-sufficient at the same time," said Executive Director of Jefferson County Human Services Lynn Johnson.

Johnson says the project is vital because Jefferson County, as well as counties statewide, are seeing high numbers of people going to human services despite the improving economy and low unemployment numbers.

“Our numbers went up considerably during the recession. We had about a 350 percent increase in demand. Today that's staying about the same," said Johnson.

Johnson says some of the reasons behind the high number is high cost of living and people making less than $24 an hour, which qualifies them for welfare assistance.

The program has helped Rynn get a full-time job and pursue a bachelor’s degree. Johnson says assisting people like Rynn is essential to bringing the numbers down and saving tax payers money.

In fact, once Rynn breaks away from the system she and her family of three will save tax payers about a million dollars over a life time.

"You end poverty by having community wrap around the family,” said Johnson.