Inland Empire News

Record demand for Riverside County social services

Monday, August 20, 2012

The need for public assistance continues to grow as the Inland Empire struggles with higher than average unemployment and home foreclosure rates.

At the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, people can line up to get relief. The disturbing trend is that even though in Riverside County the unemployment rate has been generally declining over the past two years, the number of people seeking welfare remains at an all-time high.

While the pallets stacked with food inside the Second Harvest Food Bank in Riverside appear to be practically full, the director says don't let that fool you into thinking there isn't an incredible amount of need.

"I've been doing this since 1981 -- yes, this is the worst situation that I've seen since 1981," said Daryl Brock, Second Harvest Food Bank executive director.

Brock says they're serving more and more people who they've never served before, people who've never needed welfare until now.

"It's been going this way now for three, almost three and a half years, and we don't see it tapering off. It may be plateauing a little bit, but if you're still a 35-percent increase over what it was three years ago, that's still a lot of people that are hurting and in crisis, trying to deal with their whole situation in life," said Brock.

And even though the unemployment rate is declining, there's still record demand for help at Riverside County Public Social Services.

"The need has been at an all-time high. This is the highest case load we've ever had," said Susan Loew, director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services.

But Loew says she has hope for the future, despite how busy they are right now, things will improve.

"We're hopeful that as the economy improves, as businesses take hold locally, that the job market will improve and the demand for our services will decline in turn," said Loew.

Loew says that's the key: As long as the unemployment rate continues to fall, eventually we'll also see a drop in the number of people seeking welfare.

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housing market, economy, unemployment, inland empire news, rob mcmillan
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