Senior citizens, the disabled, and low income in Centre and Clearfield County are the main clients of Central Pennsylvania Community Action Agency. The organization provides direct assistance and referrals to other local and national programs. Everything from affordable housing to free food and education is addressed.
The goal is to help people overcome poverty and gain stability. So to this end, the agency will offer families the guidance and support they need. While strict application processes are in place by CPCAA and resources are limited, the working poor may be able to receive assistance from the agency.
The economic self-sufficiency program helps working poor families and those faced with poverty achieve and maintain financial self-sufficiency through education, training and employment opportunities. This general term for the case management program from Central Pennsylvania Community Action addresses the root causes of poverty, helping clients overcome their condition.
The agency will put applicants through an intake process. Then, at the end of that, they will thoroughly assess clients to develop individualized, goal-based plans that play to their strengths. Staff from CPCAA provide counseling, coaching and mentoring to clients.
All goal based plans created focus on the education and job training necessary to obtain employment in a high-demand sector of the local Pennsylvania economy. Each plan also addresses the needs for financial literacy, affordable childcare, healthcare, transportation, and basic budgeting.
The agency notes that the economic self-sufficiency program is not a government or state of Pennsylvania entitlement program; rather, a combination of public funding and private contributions support the service. Central Pennsylvania Community Action Agency tries to ensure that all program graduates obtain gainful employment, have access to reliable transportation and live in comfortable, affordable housing.
In order to graduate, clients need to have a balanced household budget and access to family healthcare, and they no longer have to rely on welfare support, such as section 8 vouchers, cash assistance, food stamps, SSI disability and publicly subsidized housing.
Work Ready is one key service available in the state. The program provides guidance and one on one support to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, with the goal of helping them gain skills and find a job in the region, including Centre or Clearfield.
Financial support from the emergency prevention and stabilization program aims to help needy persons become self-sufficient. The goal is to reduce the need for such persons to seek future assistance from the government. Clients in this program receive support to overcome challenging circumstances, such as grants to pay energy bills or rent to avoid an eviction, including from the Rental Assistance Program (RAP). Job training is also a requirement in CPCAA.
Experienced self-sufficiency coaches and job counselors work with clients to assess and stabilize emergencies. They will help them develop plans to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. In order to qualify for either a loan or some form of financial assistance, participants in this program must submit relevant proof-of-need documentation and make co-payments whenever possible. If funds are issued, the money can be used for basic needs such as rent, food, or even security deposits on a new home.
Emergency assistance is available to individuals and families facing financial hardship through the outreach program. The Community Action of Central Pennsylvania has partnered with utility companies in Pennsylvania to help clients with utility payments in the form of payment plans. Eligible low-income clients also receive some assistance with partial back rent payments as part of this resource, and the outreach program makes referrals to food pantries and other local support services.
There are several crisis type rental assistance programs available in both Centre and Clearfield, most of which are federal funded. They range from ESG – Emergency Solution Grant which can help families facing eviction to funds to pay the security deposit on a new home. Another key service is the PHARE - PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement resource, which provides shelter, rehousing, and case management to the homeless and very low income.
Veterans in the region can get financial help from SSVF, or Supportive Services For Veteran Families. Federal funds are used for a number of housing costs, ranging from heating bills to rent. The veteran, and their family, will also partner with a case manager from CPCAA in applying for any benefits they are entitled too, and they can get help in locating a new, low income apartment. The aim is to help those that have so honorably defended our country.
Clothing closets are available, and provide gently used items to the working poor as well as children. One key resource from the non-profit Central Pennsylvania organization is PA Workwear, which has professional attire for those seeking a job or going on an interview, and there may be suits, ties, shoes, dresses, and similar items. There are also free winter coats for children from a dedicated project team.
The organization operates the Emergency Food Assistance Program for working poor and even unemployed citizens in Centre and nearby counties. Program participants may obtain free food during mass distributions on designated days or on a continuing basis via local pantries.
There are also dozens of churches and pantries that offer food through scheduled mass distributions, and all residents with limited income qualify to receive groceries or even free holiday meals at these distribution sites. The food pantries, meanwhile, are available for emergencies.
All food banks in Pennsylvania that operate work to meet the health and nutrition needs of low-income households in Clearfield County and nearby regions, including those with seniors and children. They will ensure quality service. Public and private donations support the network of pantries.
Senior citizens in both Clearfield and Centre can apply for food assistance as well. The two main offering are the free Senior Congregate Meal Program as well as Meals on Wheels, which will deliver them food, including at the holidays.
Weatherization assistance provided by CPCAA help eligible clients lower their energy bills while maintaining cool homes in the summer and warm homes in the winter. Energy auditors from the agency inspect clients’ homes and recommend energy-efficient measures, such as weather-stripping doors, caulking windows, insulating attics and tuning heaters. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the state fund this program.
Central Pennsylvania Community Action helps with water, heating, and energy bills. The agency uses some of its own money to help with those bills, and also participates in state and federal programs such as H2O Help to Others (for water bills) or Customer Assistance Program (CAP) as well as Neighbor to Neighbor. All of these have their own income conditions, but the goal is to help qualified customers keep their heat on or propane tanks filled during the winter, with a secondary focus on summer cooling costs.
The agency is HUD certified, and focus on housing and general credit counseling or debt reduction. Counselors offer clients with free homeownership counseling and foreclosure intervention, as well as tips on how to reduce both medical or credit card debts.
Income tax help is administered from a community-based VITA program. This service provides free assistance with both state and federal tax return preparation for individuals who cannot afford to pay for such help on their own. The elderly can also get advice. Low-to-moderate income persons, senior citizens, disabled persons and persons with limited English skills are eligible for VITA, and are some of the primary clients.
Savings are encourage from the Central PA Community Action Agency too. They offer a program known as IDA, which can provide savers with a matching grant. The money can be used for buying a home or paying for education.
A number of other solutions are available for low income and struggling families, ranging from job training to emergency financial aid. Call a CPCAA office for more details.
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