Several resources are available from Advocacy Outreach. They offer housing solutions as part of the Emergency Shelter Grants Program and assist with basic needs, such as Christmas gifts, food, and cooling expenses. If the non-profit Advocacy Outreach doesn’t offer the service, then referrals may be made to other Travis County resources.
The main goal of the ESG - Emergency Shelter Grants Program is to provide financial assistance and support services to qualified low income households. Aid is for those that are faced with a sudden reduction of income due to unforeseen circumstances like a death in the family, health crisis or an unexpected job layoff.
In an effort to help such households avoid becoming evicted or homeless, ESGP and Advocacy Outreach provides funding to pay overdue bills. In addition, advocates from the non-profit work closely with families to develop a plan to stabilize the situation and resume paying household bills, such as rent or a mortgage payment, within one month. This program is funded by HUD in the federal government and administered through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
With funding available from this federal grant program, AO is able to pay overdue back rent, a security deposit, utility bill payments or first month's rent on behalf of families in need. Funding from the program is limited and the demand for help is high, so they are able to help only a fraction of the Travis County families that are facing eviction and who need assistance.
In cases where they can’t help the applicant due to lack of funding or resources, the agency will provide referrals to other area agencies, churches and organizations.
Get help in applying for federal government or state of Texas benefits. As many people know, completing government forms and applications can be a complicated undertaking, even for people who read and write fluently. Social Security Disability Insurance is a good example as there are several forms to every stage in the application process, and they all come with deadlines.
Filling the applications out completely and correctly can expedite the process for any public benefit, so the client receives aid in a timely fashion. To cite a few more examples, forms for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), SNAP food stamps, Worker’s Compensation, Medicare or Medicaid prescription plans, earned income tax refunds and FAFSA can all be complicated. Case managers can help people navigate the pile of paper and apply as needed.
Family Literacy is for low income families with a parent who has educational needs, plus a child or children under the age of 8. The program provides services for everyone, including parenting education, social services for adults and activities for parents and children to enjoy together. Scheduling is set up so that parents may attend classes and AO Family Literacy also offers a class to those that qualify.
Cooling a senior citizens home during the hot Texas summer can actually be a life or death situation. Each year, there are older people in Travis County that have died of heat stroke in homes without means of cooling the air inside, often just because they can’t afford to pay their utility bills to run a cooling system.
Family Eldercare sponsors an annual air conditioner or Fan Drive to raise funds to buy window and table fans for families with a senior member that lacks air-conditioning. The program then passes the fans on to greater Austin as well as Central Texas organizations, which then distributes them to those in need, including the elderly and disabled.
Holiday assistance is part of the Christmas Gifts Program. This helps needy families enjoy the Christmas or even Thanksgiving season, no matter what their religious practices are, and despite any financial difficulties they may be experiencing. There is an application process to receive these gifts or meals from Advocacy Outreach.
Free Thrift Store offers low to moderate income Travis County residents the opportunity to shop. Some items are sold at affordable prices, while the lowest income may receive free clothing, dishes, cookware, bed linens, toys, and even furniture. This frees up their money to pay for shelter, food, rent or transportation. The Free Store from Advocacy Outreach also can provide referrals to social services in the region.
For more information on these and other services, Advocacy Outreach is located at 200 Depot St., Elgin, Texas 78621. Call the center at 512-281-4180.
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