Project Amistad: Cuts Would be Devastating
POSTED: Monday, February 28, 2011 - 7:07pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 5:57pm
EL PASO – As Texas lawmakers mull massive budget cuts, low-income people in El Paso are keeping a close watch. That's because fewer dollars could be devastating for those who rely on state-funded programs, to get around.
LULAC Project Amistad provides transportation services to medicaid patients who are elderly or disabled. Although the non-profit organization doesn't know how much funding they could lose through the state, they maintain that any loss will impact their clients.
Amistad helps Medicaid-qualified people who don't have a means of getting around El Paso. Using buses, they bring some people to their medical appointments, job interviews, or help others run basic errands.
Amistad's CEO, Xavier Banales, said the agency transports up to 400 people a day. The agency mostly relies on state grants, so cuts would immediately be felt by the people they serve.
“It's possible that with the decreases that it could be devastating to some of our individuals that we transport. We transport individuals who are low-income...many of them are on social security,” said Banales.
One example of that is 67-year-old Jesus Anchondo, who uses Amistad's bus services three times a week to get to his dialysis treatments.
“...Cuts would impact me. Some of us that use crutches...are sick and dizzy after dialysis treatment,” said Anchondo.
Banales said folks on a wheelchair would especially be affected.
“...To go shopping, to buy food, to go to the pharmacy, to get medication...for an able-bodied person, that's normal...but for a person who is wheelchair-bound, it's a challenge,” added Banales.
If the agency has fewer funds to work with, it may reduce the frequency of their transportation services, or even the areas they serve. In the meantime, Banales said the agency is trying to rely on fund-raising to offset potential cuts, but he acknowledged there is a problem with that.
“It's a very hard area to hit because all the non-profit agencies in El Paso are doing the same thing,” stated Banales.