Several counties are supported by the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, which is a leading non-profit organization in Pennsylvania. They provide assistance and support to counties such as Montgomery, Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe. Every month their case managers help hundreds of local families with their basic needs that revolve around housing, rent, employment, and utilities. Many of the clients are the recently unemployed, elderly, or families with young children. The case managers from the community action agency offer both short term financial and long term self-sufficiency services.
Both current and future homeowners can get assistance from Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. The agency provides assistance to future homeowners through the Home Ownership Counseling Program. The workshops that are held includes multiple session seminar where participants get an opportunity to learn about preparing for home ownership, buying a new home, learn the relevance of good credit ratings, and receive advice on obtaining a mortgage. Additionally, seminars taught by professionals affiliated with CACLV will introduce enrolled applicants to what to expect once the closing process is over.
As part of this, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley offers individual counseling to participants during and after the home-buying process. The counseling sessions provide education on budgeting, credit history review, pre-qualification, and much more. Staff, including HUD approved counselors, will help you with document preparation prior to applying for a low interest loan, choosing the best mortgage according to your needs, and referrals for rehab home programs.
Foreclosure counseling is offered from housing and credit counselors. They work together to provide assistance to struggling homeowners from counties such as Montgomery and Monroe who are at risk of losing their home to their lender.
The assistance is provided at the civil division of the Court of Common Pleas in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Housing counselors prepare homeowners for a Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Conference with their bank or lender. The Conference is held in a local, civil court with a mediator. Homeowners will receive advice and information related to bringing mortgage current proposing a repayment plan or loan modification. Sessions will cover what the borrowers rights are. Or get tips on paying off mortgage or how to request a loan modification.
Addressing the borrowers mortgage delinquency is the goal and before making any agreement, a proposal is created and presented to the lender’s attorney. This conference is attended by the bank, the lender’s lawyer, the homeowner and his pro bono attorney. In addition, there is also support from the housing or credit counselor from the non-profit throughout this process.
Eviction prevention services are available. This is generally in the form of referrals to emergency rental assistance programs or counseling, however CACLV does want to prevent homelessness in the region, such as Montgomery or Bucks County. There may even be some local non-profits that can contribute towards a security deposit on a new affordable home or apartment, or zero interest loans may be offered for some of these housing costs.
FirstEnergy’s WARM Program provides financial assistance to low-income and working poor residents of Bucks, Northampton, Monroe, and Pike counties to lower their electric bills. Both FirstEnergy and CACLV work on improving the households of customers in order to lower their total consumption of electricity.
What will happen is a CACLV representative studies the electricity usage of a household and conducts an assessment of the home in order to provide the owner with helpful information on how the customer may save energy and save money. The representative also refers the WARM program participants to any service that could help to their homes’ total electricity usage.
Get help with WARM from insulation of attics and basements or hot water pipes, caulking of air leaks that lead to higher heating costs, and the replacement of compact florescent light bulbs. Additionally, replacement of energy inefficient appliances is also possible. WARM services are provided at no cost to the customers who qualify.
In partnership with the Lehigh and Northampton County Assistance Offices, the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley provides emergency home heating bill assistance to clients. There are some ways to do this and they are done through public aid such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Eligible low to moderate income residents of Lehigh and Northampton Counties are welcome to file an application for the Weatherization Assistance resource as well. Eligible clients are both renters and homeowners who are under 150% of the federal government poverty set level. Services are provided at no cost to the participants and can include free furnace repairs, additional insulation, weather-stripping doors, and extra caulking. U.S. Department of Energy and US Department of Health and Human Services pay for the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Conserve as well from PPL’s WRAP Program. The non-profit Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley helps low-income, the elderly and disabled people decrease their electric bills through this service. The resource operates in the areas served by PPL Electric Utilities Corporation in Montgomery, Lehigh, Bucks, Northampton and Monroe counties. Some of what is available from the program include insulation of attics and basements, insulation of hot water pipes, replacing energy inefficient appliances, caulking of air leaks that lead to higher heating costs, and even free compact fluorescent light bulbs replacement.
The UGI Low Income Usage Reduction Program is yet another conservation resource. The program helps eligible low-income customers decrease the dollar amount of their natural gas bills by providing energy saving improvements to their homes. Improvements that will make their homes more comfortable include insulation, newly installed door weather-stripping and sealing of leaks that allow cold air into the home. All services are done for free for those that qualify.
The agency administers the program and determines eligibility. Qualified clients are those whose income is below Federal Poverty Income Guidelines thresholds. In addition, clients who received LIHEAP benefits or cash grants during the last 12 months are also eligible.
An Energy audit is conducted in eligible household in order to determine ways to save on UGI gas bills. Moreover, it will determine if any energy saving improvements can be made under the program. For more details, dial 484.893.110.
Housing needs can be met too. CACLV offers educational and vocational training to families through a two-year transitional housing plan called the Ferry Street Apartments. The goal of the program is to help enrolled applicants and families achieve self-sufficiency. The apartments are located at the corner of 6th and Ferry Street in Easton Pennsylvania.
Another option is the low cost Turner Street Apartments. These units help families achieve independence and self-sufficiency through educational and vocational training. It is a multiple-year transitional housing program. The sites are located in center city Allentown on Turner Street.
Shelter is also offered by CACLV and its non-partner charity organizations. The agency provides assistance to homeless families with children by offering them housing and casework services through the Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown. This is the largest family shelter in the region that has been active.
The shelter provides intensive in-house programming for up to 3 months to eligible clients. Staff helps families and their children achieve their goals with the assistance of a case manager who also helps with a search for permanent housing, applying for loans to pay a security deposit in the future, life skills education, and creating a budget plan. In addition to case management, referrals to appropriate services are also provided.
Food and free groceries from the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania is available. The non-profit provides food to low-income clients and the poor who are in need. The pantry operates in six counties, serving over 50,000 people each month. Last year, Second Harvest distributed millions of pounds of food to the CACLV network of over 200 member charity and church agencies. The goal of the Second Harvest is to obtain and distribute nutritious food in order to build sustainable healthy communities.
Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania aims to reduce the causes of hunger and ultimately eliminate poverty throughout the region of Lehigh and Montgomery County. Second Harvest is supported by many groups including community volunteers, local charities and other donors.
VITA, or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program in Pennsylvania enables eligible tax payers to file their taxes for free. The program is also enabling them to use their refunds for asset building and to build up their savings.
Eligible clients for the program are low-income working families or seniors who are the participants of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the federal Child Tax Credit. The service is implemented in the partnership with CACLV and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). VITA’s IRS certified volunteers prepare federal, state of Pennsylvania, and local income tax returns and electronically file them for free on behalf of the client. While not everyone can be assisted, the VITA program has served over 7000 eligible households over the years.
Employment assistance is available in Lehigh Valley and really across Pennsylvania. In partnership with the Department of Public Welfare, Community Action Agencies operate a statewide Work Ready Program. The employment resources offers employment and training services to clients with limited employability, those who are enrolled in the TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) program.
Many of the recipients that enter the program may have a college degree and/or extensive work experience but are facing a hardship. They may only need additional support in order to re-enter the workforce. Referral to the program is offered to participants in order for them to receive the best treatment according to their needs.
Referrals to Work Ready program are conducted directly through the social workers from the Department of Public Welfare by contractual obligation. A thorough assessment of each individual is conducted by staff from CACLV and the state, where all aspects of individual’s life are taken into account. The program helps participants find and maintain employment but also has positive impact on other areas of individual’s life.
One of the goals of the Work Ready Program is to help participants find an employment and increase their income so they can pay the bills or rent on their own in the future. It also aims to promote self-sufficiency and individual growth by identifying and removing obstacles that cause delays in achieving these goals. After achieving these objectives, participants will become fully employed members of the community. Services offered include:
Find help starting a business as well. The Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown provides financial help and short term loans to low-income residents by enabling and encouraging them to develop and own businesses in the neighborhood. The goal is to help them gain economic empowerment through training and business related programs, projects, and initiatives. CACLV supports local economy and small businesses and empowers residents to assume more active roles in the stewardship of their community.
The main location of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley can be rwched at 610.691.5620. The address is 1337 East Fifth Street (at William Street), Bethlehem, PA 18015, however satellite offices may also be available.
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