Lack of funding for emergency assistance in Burlington

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- It's been about a week since Kathy Bailey moved out of the homeless shelter at Allied Churches of Alamance County.

It’s a place she turned to when her family was going through hard times.

"We didn't have power; we didn't want to stay at the house with no power, so we came here to stay," Bailey said.

Even though bailey has her own home, she says money got tight after her husband was out of work.

"Due to him not working, we got behind on our power bill," she said.

Bailey first turned to the shelter to get emergency assistance to help pay off those bills, but the shelter didn’t have the funds to help her.

"I probably get at least 100-150 calls a day, out of those 150 telephone calls, I turn down at least 125," said Parthenia Ingram, emergency assistance coordinator for the shelter.

Ingram says the shelter has seen a 50 percent drop in its private donations, causing her to turn down many of the people who call for help.

"I cannot stand saying the words, 'I can't help you. Sorry, I can't help you,’” she said. “It breaks my heart."

Last year the shelter received $130,000 in private funding for the emergency assistance program. This year, that number was slashed to $55,000.

Each year the emergency assistance program normally helps between 7,000 to 8,000 people with bills such as rent, water, gas and energy but this year funding is so low the program can now only help with energy bills.

"We're their last hope and we are now in a spot where we're now having to say no more than we care to,” said the shelter’s executive director, Kim Crawford.

Help that eventually came in for Bailey and allowed her to move back home.

"You just wouldn't believe how much a little bit would help," Bailey said.

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