Public aid from Chester County Department of Human Services.
Residents of Chester County that are seeking help from the Department of Human Services need to go through a formal Case Management process. The end result of that may be access to public assistance for everything from housing to hunger prevention resources. The process also focuses on ensuring that each struggling family is equipped with all of the tools needed to prevent the situation from repeating itself in the future.
The Food Stamp Program in Pennsylvania has a new name, and that is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While the name has changed, the program’s functions and goals have not. Clients are provided with state of Pennsylvania Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Cards, which are similar to debit cards and can be used at local stores in Chester County.
They are widely used in the region. ACCESS cards are welcomed as a form of payment for food and groceries in most stores. The goal is to both help a client pay for their groceries as well as enhance clients’ knowledge of nutrition. This can also improve their ability to select and prepare healthy foods for themselves and their families.
There are three main housing programs run. One, the Chester County DHS Emergency Shelter, provides short-term housing for the homeless, single parents and victims of domestic violence. All clients in residence at the public shelter are provided with support such as a free meal as well as case management services. This is done to help and support them in their efforts to secure permanent housing.
The second program, Bridge Housing, is relied upon to move people from homelessness to stability and permanent housing. After all, this is generally the next step clients take after they leave the Emergency Shelter. Bridge Housing provides the opportunity for residents to move into shared facilities, such as transitional housing.
There are also many apartments located in the area that are available for small monthly copay amounts, as determined according to each individual’s income. Another benefit of the Bridge Program is that tenants continue working with their case managers as they move forward toward living independently on a permanent basis.
Grants can be issued from the Rental Assistance Program. This DSH public service provides financial assistance with rent, heating costs, security deposits, utilities, and even mortgage payments. As a part of the resource, the staff from the Chester County Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) intervenes with landlords on behalf of tenants in situations of eviction. Thy will help people faced with an emergency due to nonpayment or late payment of rent, with the goal of maximizing the tenants’ chances of remaining in their apartments or homes.
The homeless can get help too. In cases where the tenants are evicted, HAP will assist in finding a more affordable apartment. Or clients can apply for help with first months rent or a deposit. HAP is also able to help shelter residents as they move out of the shelter and into rental housing.
With the assessment results indicated above as a foundation for stability, case management also focuses on ensuring that each client is prepared for self-sufficiency. Available service areas from Chester County Department of Human Services (DHS) include, but are not limited to, life skills, job preparation, budgeting, home management, and referral to drug and alcohol services.
Social workers from DHS are dedicated to its mission of helping low-income Pennsylvania families and individuals as they progress toward independence. As one of the Human Services Moving to Independence programs, the State Blind Pension Public Aid tool provides benefits for adults whose visual accuity is very low. They also need to meet other eligibility criteria for a grant, and this may include proof of Chester County Pennsylvania residency as well as a low income and savings.
As a Moving to Independence Program, the public aid is also available from Refugee Cash Assistance. This offers support to refugees who do not qualify for TANF. Cash benefits are available for several months once someone moves to the state.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, also known as Public Cash Assistance, provides funds to help parents and dependent children living in the same home. There may also be support for basic needs, and the grants can help dependent children residing with relatives who are not their biological parents and women who are pregnant in Chester County.
Human Services Department in Chester County can also help people apply for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, or LIHEAP. This is a resource that pays heating or electric bills on behalf of low-income families who are struggling to do so on their own.
Using federal funds, any payments made are in the form of cash grants that are paid directly to the utility company. LIHEAP also operates a crisis grant program that provides additional financial benefits to help eligible households in Chester County either pay utility bills or avoid having their service shut off. So there may be help for people impacted by broken heating equipment, Lack of fuel, or if someone is out of heating oil or fuel.
While limited, DHS offers eligible very low income or indigent residents financial assistance with burial and cremation services. This is only for people that are on SSI - Supplemental Security Income, people that received cash benefits from DHS prior to their deaths, or those in a nursing home.
For more information on these or other government benefits, Human Services of Chester County is at 330 West Market Street, West Chester, PA 19380. Or residents can dial 610-429-3033.