We’re rolling out something new this Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend: local news from KLRU. KLRU News Briefs are short local news stories focused on the rich culture and community in Austin and Central Texas. The weekly pieces will air Saturday and Sunday near the end of the regular broadcast.
This Saturday (3/22), we look at why people who receive food assistance in Texas were not affected by the recent Farm Bill. We spoke to Kathy Green, Senior Director for Advocacy and Public Policy at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas about beneficiaries in Central Texas, and why only 56% of people in Travis County who could sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or what’s commonly called “food stamps,” are actually enrolled.
“People who are senior citizens, a lot of times they don’t realize their eligible for SNAP and that that’s an additional benefit that they can have. Also we have a lot of veterans, we have a lot of people who can enroll on behalf of their children,” Green told us.
On Sunday (3/23), our story focuses on Austin’s affordable housing bond, which was approved by voters in November. The bond was similar to one that passed in 2006. We spoke to Mandy DeMayo, Executive Director of the non-profit HousingWorks Austin about the 2013 bond and what advocates and officials hope will happen with the money.
“What we found with the 2006 housing bond and something that we really struggle with as a community is incorporating affordability throughout the city. It shouldn’t just be in one area. We don’t want to concentrate poverty, we don’t want to concentrate low income families, we want to provide them with opportunity. So, about half of the bond funds [in 2006] were invested west of I35, which I think is a success story. We can do better with 2013 and we’re planning on doing that,” DeMayo said.
We also spoke to Charles Cloutman of Meals on Wheels and More Home Repair Program. Cloutman chairs the Austin Housing Repair Coalition, a group of 12 organizations working together on home repair for low-income homeowners. Part of the bond funding goes toward repairs to existing homes and Meals on Wheels and More does some of that work in Austin and Travis County.