Local Woman Starts Program for Public Housing Residents

Posted: Jul 9, 2010 4:15 AM

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"I have heard so many stories about people living in public housing for many years," said Gates. "It could be five, six, ten years down the line and they're still in the same situation."

Gates started a program, Christ In Motion, that employs those living in her community and pairs them with people who need home care in her neighborhood.

Gates lives in public housing herself, but said she wants people to realize such situations should only be temporary.

"They have a certain mindset and it's hard to break them from that," said Gates.

Gates said public housing residents should be top priority for jobs.

"These individuals are the ones at this time, that I can see, that need the employment," she said. "They need to be on a first come first serve basis so they can gradually be able to come from public housing to possibly owning their own homes."

Columbia Housing Authority Boss Phil Steinhaus said the tough economy makes it difficult for people to get out of public housing.

"Some folks may remain in public housing longer and it may take them a little longer to actually work towards family self-sufficiency and work their way out," said Steinhaus.

Raco currently has three employees that work for four clients.

She pays them $10 per hour, using the money she receives from her own government aid.

"They go in and do some cleaning, some cooking, actually whatever would come as being a friend," said Gates.

Her sister Teri Gates also works for Christ In Motion and said she's more concerned about helping others than the money.

"It's been so good," said Gates' sister. "I told her I thought about it, and I know it's just starting up and the funds aren't together, so I told her you just pay me half."

On Thursday, she provided home care for Molly Johnson, who said Christ In Motion is less stressful than using other home care providers.

"I don't have to worry about someone messing up the paperwork and things not going through," said Johnson.

Clients pay five dollars if they need Christ In Motion to run errands, otherwise the services are free.

"Fuel costs money," said Johnson. "So five bucks, that's cheap as the dickens. I can handle that."

Gates said she wants to expand her program to fifty employees.

She hopes to find grant money to pay for it.

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