Individuals facing poverty or that are struggling may be able to get assistance from the Portage County Community Action Council. The non-profit works with clients on addressing a number of needs. Priority is usually on food and housing. However, individuals will also be able to get information on job placement and educational resources that operate in Portage County Ohio.
PRC, or the Prevention, Retention, and Contingency Program was created with the goal of helping employed but still low-income families escape the repetitive cycle of poverty. Many times people just need a little help to get away from any dependency on public assistance and to transition into the workplace. Ultimately, the goal of Community Action Council and PRC’s is to remove barriers that prevent disadvantaged families from achieving this self-sufficiency. To make this happen, the organization offers an array of innovative strategies and services to support participants in their efforts.
The Training Readiness Apprenticeship Development Employment, or TRADE, is one service that was created. It provides clients with links and referrals to job training and placement resources in the greater community, such as the City of Kent’s Community Development Department or the Portage County Workforce Development Agency. In addition to that employment resource, CAC presents its own employment support programs to residents who are underemployed or that are looking for work.
Community Action Council of Portage County has partnered with Workforce Development and several other non-profit organizations around the county to establish and operate the Portage County Employment Center’s One-Stop Program. This also uses federal funds.
It provides a range of employment support services under one location to clients. Anyone in need of one-on-one job-search assistance from specialists or that needs access to training programs is encouraged to visit the One-Stop Center at the Portage County Employment Center. Or they can visit CAC itself to explore options.
Children and students can benefit from the Summer Food Program. This helps ensure that low-income children in Portage County have access to nutritious lunches or snacks during the summer months, when school lunches are not available.
In general, children under age nineteen and mentally or physically challenged adults are welcome to join CAC for lunch at sites throughout the county at designated times. There is no application process in order to get this free food.
Also, Community Action Council works with day camps and existing summer youth programs to provide free meals, as needed. Funding for the Summer Food Program for Children is provided by the US Department of Agriculture through the Ohio Department of Education. The main distribution sites for a meal are below.
Basic Literacy Education for adults is a requirement for overall self-sufficiency and development. Adult education is critical to the overall family literacy, so the program from the non-profit uses the family as its focal point. This necessitates close involvement on the part of the instructor, so that class activities and lesson plans relate in a practical way to the lives of the students. With that as a focus, subjects covered include reading, science, writing, and communication skills.
The federally funded Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program, or E-HEAP, provides one-time-per-heating-season cash grants or financial assistance to eligible low-income homeowners and renters who are struggling with energy costs.
The benefits are limited to households in crisis situations, such as current or imminent disconnection of service, or a dangerously low (less than ten days) supply of bulk fuel. The federal government benefits available in Portage County also include restoration or maintenance of the primary and/or secondary energy source.
The dollar amounts provided to a low income household are determined according to the total amount required to stabilize the situation; they do not cover the total debt owed. In other words, client co-payments are still necessary for paying utility bills.
The Regular Home Energy Assistance Program (R-HEAP) is targeted to residents who are having difficulties with meeting the high cost of home heating. This is available as an Ohio Department of Development, Office of Community Services-administered initiative.
The other option is the community action agency Summer Crisis Cooling Program, SCCP, or Summer HEAP. This provides eligible Portage County Ohio residents with one-time financial help with electric or air conditioning bills during the months of June, July, and August, when air conditioners are running. In addition, the state of Ohio SCCP furnishes new window air conditioners to those who qualify. To be found eligible, clients must be age 60 or over, or suffer from respiratory conditions.
In order to receive any form of energy bill assistance, customers of PUCO-regulated utilities are also required to apply for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). As PIPP participants, clients will still need to pay ten to fifteen percent of their gross monthly income for their main utility service and in addition to that, up to five percent for secondary energy service.
Weatherization Assistance from Community Action Council, or HWAP, is for low-income Portage County homeowners and renters. Energy efficiency measures provided by HWAP conserve energy and at the same time enhance the comfort, health, and safety of homes. This will also free up household income for paying for other bills or basic needs.
Home alterations are provided by certified and highly trained crews. Some of what may be done for the homeowner may include tune-up/repair, inspection, or replacement of heating units; sealing against air leakage; insulation of attics, walls, and floors; and/or insulation of water and heat ducts. All weatherization services are free for eligible owner-occupied dwelling, as the federal government pays for them. For rental properties, landlords may be required to pay a percentage of costs for materials.
The USF/EPP - Universal Service Fund Electric Partnership is for income qualified Ohio Edison/First Energy PIPP customers designated by the State of Ohio as high electricity consumers. USF/EPP helps such clients with lowering their levels of electricity usage.
This is accomplished by many steps. Community Action Council of Portage County will work with the family in installing energy efficiency measures similar to those provided by HWAP (see above). Participants are encouraged to contribute by developing energy savings plans for their homes.
Last, but not least, Ohio Edison’s Community Connection is an option for First Energy customers. All services are furnished in conjunction with CAC and other community service agencies, including the Home Weatherization Assistance Program, Project HOPE/Mobile Home Repair Services, Emergency HEAP, Housewarming, and the Kent Furnace Inspection/Replacement Program.
The Community Action Council of Portage County can be contacted for more information or referrals. The main location is at PO Box 917, 1036 W. Main St., Ravenna, OH. 44266. Telephone - 330-297-1456.
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