Information on emergency financial assistance and self-sufficiency is available from the non-profit, faith based churches in East Baton Rogue Parish. Case managers and volunteers from the various churches across the parish will meet with applicants to review options, ranging from emergency funds for housing and rent expenses to food and budgeting workshops that take place across Baton Rouge. The charity agency is also a source for information on federal government programs such as USDA Commodity and emergency solution grants.
Assistance is offered for residents in the zip codes of 70806, 70808, 70809, 70810, 70814, 70815, 70816, 70817, 70818, 70819, and 70820. But there may be services in nearby regions as well. As part of the process, intake workers will need to meet with applicants. They will review the person's income and financial situation, and based on the results of that, referral is given or low income families can apply for direct financial aid. The focus is on helping address basic needs.
Members from the churches will work with the family as well as the larger Baton Rouge parish community on preventing hunger. There can be free groceries passed out, or applications to resources such as SNAP food stamps. While many families can get help with their nutritional needs, as with most resources, priority is on senior citizens as well as children from low income households.
A food pantry can serve as a backup for when the household budget can't afford to pay for the groceries in a certain month. The individual or family needs to be faced with some form of hardship, and they need to be able to explain the concern. If qualified, then members of the Baton Rouge community can apply at the pantry for short-term emergency food assistance.
The center is client choice. Visitors to the local church run pantry or soup kitchen are provided with a few supply of food, based on what they select. Items can be offered such as pasta, meats, milk, baby formula, and fruits, and the goal is to include a nutritional balance of the major food groups. Most of what is available comes from donations or partners such as Feeding America or the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program.
Another option is USDA Commodities. The non-profit provides a supplemental source of nutrition to low-income or working poor families. These federal government commodities are distributed on a first come first serve basis and are distributed every three months to qualified applicants.
Nutritional Outreach and Education Program, or NOEP, relies on the guidance of experienced staff. This service will provide assistance to residents of the county with the SNAP Food Stamp application process and even how to get re-certified.
This is only available in a crisis, and as a last resort. Based on the results of an assessment as noted above, financial aid is available. The various churches across Baton Rogue Parish may have free gasoline vouchers or local bus passes for job interviews and doctor’s appointments. There may be applications to federal grants for rental expenses, assistance with obtaining identification cards and birth certificates, or vouchers for medications.
The money is raised by local churches, including Francis Asbury United Methodist, Broadmoor Baptist, Trinity Lutheran, St. Luke’s Episcopal and about 15 others. There may also be some occasional grants from the government or United Way, but those are rare, and all funding is limited.
The Energy Bill Assistance Program assists with various types of sources, including natural and liquid propane gas, electricity, heating oil, kerosene, and wood. Most of this aid is funded by donations from local charities as well as the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant.
In many cases, these local churches receive funds from the United Way or local fund raisers. The money is used to pay for a variety of expenses, ranging from emergency shelter stays, funds to keep the heat on and rent/mortgage assistance for families or individuals. Case managers from local churches in the parish are able to provide very limited amounts of financial assistance (by appointment only) with past due energy bills and one time rental assistance during certain times of the year. In some cases, interest free loans will be issued to help a client pay for these living expenses, but no matter the situation, all support is limited and comes with restrictions.
Any type of financial aid will be provided along with advice. For clients who are struggling to get on their financial feet, faith based groups or partners have trained volunteers to work with them to provide guidance. This process will help people identify the barriers to financial self-sufficiency that a client has. Then, a development plan is created, such as on credit repair or budgeting. They will also also advice on how to complete the action plan.
Transitional housing is located across Baton Rouge parish, often in the form of low income apartments. Each family works closely with staff to be places into a home. There are also support systems for single parents, veterans and senior citizens in the region. All clients will also enroll into life skills training, counseling, and vocational assistance as needed. The goal of these sessions is to identify and overcome barriers that have kept them from being self-sufficient.
All of these churches in East Baton Rogue also work closely with other agencies to offer other skills training as needed. This ranges from job placement to financial literacy workshops, educational planning, credit counseling and family therapy. This will help the tenant that is in the transitional housing to prepare them for a successful transition to permanent housing.
The Home Rehab (Repair) Program is for households with a low income and elderly member, that meet other conditions. Rehabilitation funds, often in the form of low income loans, assist with home repairs and disability accessibility modifications based on HUD Housing Quality Standards. In some cases, volunteers from churches in the community will do some minor maintenance work if eligible.
Information is available on the the National Family Caregiver Program. This is for senior citizens, and it offers one time assistance to those that qualify. There is help offered in the form of Respite Care and supplemental services such as applying for house and rent payments, utility bills, purchasing medication, free food and medical equipment. There can also be other assistance available, depending on the elderly applicant’s needs.
While many churches make up the charity services, a family will be given information on a location near them, The best phone number to dial for information is 211, and referrals will be given.
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