New program aims to reduce poverty rate in Amarillo

Amarillo, TX - It's an historic moment for Amarillo and the state of Texas.

A new program aims to give thousands of area residents living in poverty the opportunity for a better future.

Amarillo is the first city in Texas to have the Benefit Bank which is part of the Texas Health Institute.

The program has nearly 70 counselors available and eleven inaugural local sites around Amarillo: Amarillo College, Amarillo Independent School District, Central Church of Christ, Coalition of Health Services, Faith City Mission, Family Support Services, First Presbyterian Church, Paramount Baptist Church, Region 16, Salvation Army, and WT Family and Community Services.

The program's statewide debut was held at Amarillo College today.

Counselors are trained to help guide people with low and moderate incomes through the application process for several programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP), Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and Prescription Assistance for Seniors.

As well as assistance with federal tax returns, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, and higher education assistance, including Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

This program is available for people of all ages living in poverty and is expected to help them build long-term financial stability.

"Not only does it screen the individual and family household but it allows them to electronically submit the paperwork. It has a lot of accuracy . This takes the individual or household through the completion process for them to file and in return they get the services quicker," says Diana Maldonado, The Benefit Bank of Texas.

You can start using the program today but full services won't be available until February 24th.

For more information contact the Texas Health Institute at 512-279-3910.