October 12, 2001

Community Notes:

Teen Read Week Encourages Making `Reading a Hobbit'

What is a hobbit? Can a hobbit be a habit? What do hobbits have to do with teens and reading? The answers to these questions will be revealed during Teen Read Week, which will be celebrated Oct. 14-20 at the South Chula Vista Branch of the Chula Vista Public Library 389 Orange Ave. Hundreds of other libraries and schools throughout the nation also will encourage teens to "read for the fun of it."

Programs and events in Chula Vista include Learn to Draw Dragons and Gargoyles on Oct. 16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Attendance is limited so teens must pre-register by calling 585-5755. Through the month of October, a trivia contest will be conducted in the library's Arturo Barrios Young Adult Room. Teens will be given trivia questions about J.R.R. Tolkien's book series "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings." Winners will be selected on Oct. 31 and awarded prizes.

"Teen Read events will help teens develop a habit of reading for the fun of it at our library," said Nora McMartin, Community Relations Manager. "Reading for the fun of it is the very best way to acquire a reading habit." For more information, call (619) 585-5755.


HICAP Offers Free Medicare Counseling

The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Group (HICAP), a non-profit organization, provides free counseling services to help Medicare beneficiaries understand and make the most cost-effective use of their Medicare benefits. HICAP also conducts free community education seminars on a variety of Medicare related topics.

HICAP has been operating in San Diego and Imperial Counties for over 15 years; however, it is now expanding its operations in an effort to provide more Medicare beneficiaries with valuable, free counseling regarding Medicare benefits and problems.

Many clients turn to HICAP when they become eligible for Medicare for the first time and don't quite understand their health care options. Or they come to HICAP when their Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) have stopped operating in San Diego; when their physician had decided to no longer participate in their HMO; or when Medicare or their insurance company has denied payment for a service.

All of HICAP's services are free of charge. Clients may schedule an appointment at one of many senior centers and social security offices throughout the county. There, they can meet with a state registered Medicare counselor for one-on-one counseling. If they are homebound, they may request telephone counseling. HICAP also has an attorney on staff to aid in more difficult situations and to file appeals.

To contact HICAP for more information or to schedule an appointment with a HICAP counselor, please call (858) 565-8772. HICAP is funded by the County of San Diego Department of Aging and Independence and the California Department of Aging.

County Adopts Six-Day Work Week to Meet Housing Need

In an effort to provide Section 8 housing vouchers to needy San Diego County families as quickly as possible, the County Department of Housing and Community Development will begin staffing its offices on Saturday to process applications for the program.

Under the federally funded Section 8 program, a housing subsidy is provided to eligible low-income households. The family pays a minimum of 30 percent of its income in rent, and the rest of the rent is paid directly to the landlord by the program. Currently, more than 7,500 families are participating in the Section 8 program in San Diego County.

"By opening our office on Saturday, we hope to get housing vouchers into the hands of families who need them as quickly as possible," said Harold Tuck, County director of Housing and Community Development. "We also urge landlords to take part in the Section 8 program, because it offers them the security of guaranteed payment of rent for participating families."

The County currently has about 1,500 Section 8 vouchers to distribute, and there are about 14,000 families on a waiting list. Officials hope that with the new Saturday hours, families can have their application processed and receive their voucher within a week, allowing them to begin looking for rental housing.

In order for the new Section 8 families to be accommodated, many new landlords will be needed. In order to participate, landlords must sign a contract and have an inspection conducted on the rental unit. Landlords can receive fair market rent under the Section 8 program.

Housing and Community Development plans to open on Saturday throughout the month of October, and on additional Saturdays as needed.

Landlords who want more information or to participate in the Section 8 program can call (858) 694-4874.

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