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Local charities to dole out federal stimulus money

Residents can get aid for rent, utility bills

BARSTOW • Two charities have gotten a quick injection of cash from federal stimulus funds and are aiming to help local residents who have recently lost jobs or taken pay cuts to avoid homelessness.

Desert Manna Ministries and Catholic Charities, two nonprofit organizations among other groups that provide food, employment help and other services for locals in need, are distributing stimulus money in the forms of one-time rent, mortgage or utility bill payments.

Starting July 1, Catholic Charities will begin doling out rent or mortgage payment assistance, according to Olivia Duran, a case worker.

Desert Manna has already begun distributing money for both rent and utilities, and has seen an immediate rush of applicants for rent help, said Executive Director Sheri Randolph. Residents can still apply for utility payments — including electricity, water, gas and propane, but not cable television or Internet, Randolph said — and can get rent help again starting July 15 when Desert Manna distributes its second allotment of stimulus money.
For Rose Garcia, getting help paying her house rent and electricity bill for the upcoming month was critical.

“I would have been stuck,” said the 60-year-old Barstow resident. “I would have been calling for extensions. ...” she said.

Though it’s a one-time fix, Randolph said the payments, which the charities send directly to landlords, or mortgage or utility companies, are meant to help people on the brink of losing their homes.

“It’s not just to give yourself a break for one month,” said Randolph, noting that assistance-seekers must bring in rent payments that are either due in five days or five days late.

According to United Way Executive Director Peggy Teal, 22 organizations in San Bernardino County have received a total of $781,377 from the federal government as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus plan.

For Barstow, that translates into $25,000 for Desert Manna and $5,000 for Catholic Charities.

Desert Manna serves approximately 5 percent of Barstow’s population, according to the charity’s Web site. Catholic Charities, which has multiple locations across the state, serves 32,494 people in San Bernardino county, according to their Web site.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the charities can send donations to Peggy Teal, Mojave Valley United Way, P.O. Box 362, Barstow, CA 92312. Donations can be specified for either rent or utilities assistance.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or

Tips on how to apply
Residents seeking one-time assistance must first fill out paperwork and consult with charity workers. The charities recommend calling ahead to schedule an appointment.

What to bring: Photo identification, social security card, proof of income, rental or mortgage agreement, or utility bill.

Desert Manna
Location: 209 North First Avenue.
Aid: Rent, mortgage, or utility bill payments.
Call: 256-7797.

Catholic Charities
Location: 703 East Main Street.
Aid: Rent or mortgage payments.
Call: 256-3733.

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