One of the primary organizations for low income families to contact is the First State Community Action Agency. The assistance programs they oversee provide assistance across in all counties and towns across the state. The non-profit is the only community action agency that operates in Delaware. As funding and resources allow, the organization will provide grants for paying heating bills, emergency rental assistance, job training, and other support. If they can’t meet your needs or help you and your family, then referrals may be available.
Any financial aid provided will be short term. There is also a formal application process in place and clients will generally need to agree to, and adhere to, self-sufficiency and case management. After all the main goal of a community action agency is to help a family increase their income, exit poverty, and get on the path to long term self-sufficiency.
Applications for the Delaware Rental Assistance Program may be processed. The main purpose of the program is to help qualified low-income individuals and families that require supportive services and affordable housing to live independently and safely in their community. As part of this, short term financial aid and case management is available.
The program serves families in which the lack of affordable housing is a barrier to reunification, low income clients exiting long-term care facilities, those who would face homelessness without SRAP rental assistance, and families that will otherwise be at risk of requiring services from a Delaware supported institution.
Emergency financial assistance, while limited, may be available. First State Community Action Agency administers services and cash assistance for families that are facing a one time crisis. While the ultimate goal of the non-profit is to stabilize the family and prevent future crisis situations whenever possible, some short term aid may be available. Some of what may be offered includes Prescription Medication Vouchers, Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention, free food, Eviction Prevention/Rent Help, and funds for paying utility bills.
Energy bill assistance is available from LIHEAP. This will offer very low income households, in particular seniors and those with young children, grants to pay their utility and heating bills. The LIHEAP crisis program is another option that is available as a last resort in Delaware. The non-profit relies on the U.S. Department of Energy and also state sources to fund the program.
The Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, is now run in partnership with Catholic Charities of Delaware, and interested residents should call 302-856-9578. This is a free service that can reduce energy costs for qualified low-income families by improving the energy efficiency of their home. The agency partners with the State Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Division of Energy and Climate to administer it.
Homes may receive insulation for hot waters and hot & cold water pipes, Air sealing, caulking, glazing, weather-stripping and crack patches, replacement of broken glass, and extra attic, wall and floor insulation and ventilation. Many other types of improvements can be made as well.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program is for people that meet low income levels and that are over the age of 55. The applicant also needs to desire to re-enter the workforce but needs updated job skills.
SCSEP will provide clients with part-time training and employment opportunities in support of community service activities. In addition to coordinating on-the-job work experience and training, the community action agency also provides participants with wages; informative workshops covering job seeking skills, employment; referrals and counseling for social services; and other support.
Staff offer clients Comprehensive Case Management. The agency will utilize a systematic approach to helping clients. First State has a number of Family Resource Coordinators that can assist clients with setting goals. They will also work together to crate an action plan. Some of the benefits of the Case Management may be the following.
Educational services will help people receive a GED, high school diploma or higher education. This will then ideally lead to increased employment opportunities and the client receiving benefits and a higher income.
Other more material benefits from the case management process can be access to low income housing or assistance to people in becoming homeowners. Transportation assistance is available. First State can also reduce the number of clients that are receiving governmental subsidies and benefits.
Housing counseling can help tenants, current homeowners, or people looking to buy a home in Delaware. First State Community Action Agency is a HUD approved non-profit and they are also a member of the National Association of Housing Counselors and Agencies, Inc. (NAHCA). Not only that, but there housing counselors are fully certified by the National Federation of Housing Counselors, Inc.
The staff can provide support to tenants that are facing eviction or that are behind on their rent. They will also address other needs that low income renters may have.
As far as those current homeowners or people looking to buy a home, the agency can provide free or low cost professional counseling services to families and individuals. Get help with understanding the home buying process, development of a Financial Analysis Work Plan, and learn about the numerous home ownership mortgage loans available. This can include the USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS) program, Delaware Second Mortgage Assistance Loan (SMAL) program, conventional home loans, the Veterans Administration program and many others.
While there is one main office, First State Community Action Agency supports the entire state of Delaware. The address is 308 North Railroad Avenue, Georgetown, Delaware 19947-0877. Or call (302) 856-7761.
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