The heat is on, and temperatures are soaring near the hundreds, sending many indoors to keep cool. But Chico resident Kristina Kaufman doesn't have that option, after her central heating and air unit went out nearly a month ago. And that's what sent her to the Butte County Community Action Agency looking for help. " I was excited to hear they had a program for the A/C unit", said Kaufman.
But Kaufman's excitement quickly dwindled after she was told there were more than 500 families ahead of her on a waiting list in need of help with heating and cooling systems. Kaufman was told it would take more than a year for her to receive help. " I was just thinking how many families were out there that were in situations much worse than I was in", explained Kaufman.
Those are families that the Community Action Agency's executive director Tom Tenorio tries to help everyday. But unfortunately the federally funded agency is feeling the tight grip of a slumping economy. " There's not a lot of resources out there, this is a real tough time for a lot of families", said Tenorio.
The agency currently has 522 families on the list waiting for aid with their heating and cooling system. Each family is placed in a ranking of priority, those in worse shape are served first. " We do target them to the greatest need and we utilize an application process to try to identify factors within a household", explained Tenorio.
Families with young children, elderly, or with medical issues are placed higher on the list. And those are the families Kaufman and her roommate are most concerned for. " We'll figure something out, we're resourceful, we're bright, but what happens to people who don't have other options, where do they go?", asked Chico resident Siri Edwards.
The Community Action Agency is operating with about 20% less funding than normal due to budget cuts. And like many is waiting for a budget deal to see if it will be impacted further.