Very low income families in Charlotte County can get assistance from Human Services, and the county operates its own programs and can help people apply for government supported benefits or public aid. Some of the main resources from the county can include energy bill assistance, free food, LIHEAP, and low income housing. The location also serves as the county’s community action agency, so it has multiple roles.
The federally government funded LIHEAP is available through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and is the nation’s main public program for paying utility bills. LIHEAP provides a once-per-year home heating and cooling bill assistance grant to eligible households, designated for direct payment to the utility company on the customer’s behalf.
Senior citizens can benefit from the Emergency Home Assistance for the Elderly Program, or EHAEP. This is fairly similar to LIHEAP, with the additional requirement that at least one household member is over the age of sixty. In addition to meeting income guidelines set by the state of Florida, applicants to County of Charlotte Human Services must show that they have received a final notice from the utility company or that their service has already been terminated and maybe they need help in paying for a reconnection fee.
As with LIHEAP, benefits or cash grants from the government are paid directly to the utility company on the behalf of the household. Seniors faced with a medical issue or illness may receive priority when it comes to funding.
Qualifying households may also be referred to energy conservation from the Charlotte County Weatherization Program, which may offer assistance with reducing home energy consumption and helping families save money.
There is also public assistance for water bills from Heartship, which is a community participation program offered by the Board of County Commissioners, Charlotte County Utilities, and the Department of Human Services. The water program’s purpose is to provide financial assistance to qualifying customers who have had their service interrupted due to a situation of crisis, or it can also assist those that have received urgent notices of an upcoming shut off.
Telephone bill help is part of SafeLink. This is available as a government-supported program offering free cell phones, discounted plans and minutes to income-eligible applicants.
Self-Sufficiency involves the client working with case managers and program specialists, and these individuals are trained to provide eligible low and moderate-income households with advice, support and guidance. The goal is to help all clients become self-sufficient on a long term, permanent basis. This guidance that is provided can include the coordination and facilitation of financial assistance with local non-profits and government agencies.
The level of assistance is dependent upon public funding availability, which can vary from month to month per the Human Services Office. Eligibility guidelines are set on an annual basis, and they may fluctuate as well based on changes from the County of Charlotte Human Services. The department is also able to provide referrals to other agencies and providers if they do not offer the services needed.
The government Property Tax Relief Program provides a tax exemption for any real estate or home that is owned by an honorably discharged veteran in Florida who has a permanent and total service-connected disability. The disability must be documented and certified in a letter from the Veterans Administration (VA), US Government, or the agency that preceded the VA. There may be some property tax savings for other veterans too.
Free legal aid and representation from CCHS Legal Services staff provides information to clients in regard to their civil rights. This support is available with the goal of protecting and preserving those rights. This may involve direct intervention by attorneys or legal professionals as well as their staffs.
Seniors are 60 years and older can get free food from the Congregate Meals Program, and this service is available in the form of low-cost, nutritionally balanced meals served at Friendship Cafes in the county. In addition to promoting better health and nutrition for older Charlotte County Florida residents, the Congregate Meals Program reduces the sense of isolation that many of the local seniors experience.
Cafes are located in Human Service Centers as well as agency on aging sites, which also offer various social services in the same convenient spot. For senior citizens or even their spouses who are unable to leave their homes, the county’s Home-Delivered Meals volunteers will bring the same healthy, hot meals right to their front doors.
Information and referrals to public aid and more is available. Please call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 for further information or to sign up for this home meals or any service, or for connections to other resources available for seniors, some of which are limited to those who are 60 and older. This is a primary objective of the community action agency.
To assist caregivers for an elder or disabled person, CCHS offers Respite Care, which allows caregivers time to themselves to rest or wind down the constant and continuing supervision. Similar to this, the County of Charlotte Human Services has volunteers that are available to assist qualifying county residents with necessary tasks around their homes, including simple household repairs, seasonal cleaning, essential yard work, household maintenance, lifting and moving of furniture and other objects, and pest control.
The state of Florida Center for Early Childhood - Healthy Families provides services that equip parents with the skills, knowledge and tools necessary to ensure that the home environment enables children to be successful. It encourages an environment of being safe, nurtured, healthy and ready to succeed in school and in life.
Financial aid is distributed from the Temporary Emergency Assistance Program, and this is provided in part with federal funding from Low-Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) or the Community Services Block Grant. There are different types of expenses that can be paid.
To receive public assistance from the county, applicants must show proof of residency in Charlotte County, proof of household status and size, and also of income. Family Services staff also work in conjunction with other community resources in order to assist households in the most appropriate and effective manner.
Residents faced with hunger or some form of emergency situations can turn to the local Food Closet for help in obtaining non-perishable food items, including canned goods or formula, sufficient to last through a period of a week or so. Additional help with nutritional and other emergency needs may be available at the Florida Department of Children and Families Access Florida site, and this resource can include SNAP food stamp applications.
Charlotte County residents, regardless of their income or insurance status, can save up to 65 percent on prescription medications with the free Coast2Coast Rx Card. This is not health insurance, nor is it intended to replace it, but is strictly a discount program that can save people a significant amount of money.
For more information, the County of Charlotte Human Services is located at 1050 Loveland Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33980. Call the agency at 941-833-6500.
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