Several programs are offered to low income families from the East Missouri Action Agency. The non-profit and its staff work with clients to address their housing, medical, and nutritional needs. The agency may have financial support for paying heating bills, provide free groceries, or offer help with paying rent. Other services include medical or dental care as well as employment programs.
Not only may short term, emergency assistance be offered, but the community action agency will focus on lifting people and helping them escape poverty. So in order to make this happen, a wide range of job training or educational services are administered. Programs are available in Cape Girardeau, Iron, Madison, Perry, St. Francois, Bollinger, Ste. Genevieve, and Washington Counties in Missouri.
The Community Services Department assists thousands of families per year with their basic needs. The community action agency believes in approaching the issue of poverty holistically, so this includes case management and maybe financial aid for paying bills.
The process starts with identifying and addressing the most basic needs, such as food, housing, employment, and shelter. It then provides access to programming that is designed to help residents move forward toward stability as well as financial freedom.
Each EMAA Outreach Office employs Community Service Representatives who help guide clients through the process, beginning with Family Intake and Assessment. Centers are located in Cape Girardeau, St. Francois, and other towns and counties. The purpose is to identify the needs of the family as a whole and also focus on each member's individual needs.
Following the assessment, case managers from East Missouri Action Agency provide referrals to the appropriate EMAA assistance programs, as well as to programs offered by the government or other community agencies. This can include grants to pay rent, free medical care, food, SSI disability applications or one time loans for paying other expenses, such as a security deposit or energy bill.
Once a family's immediate needs are taken care of by that financial aid, the focus can begin to shift toward self-sufficiency. This is offered from some other progressive, high-impact services. This touches upon employment, budgeting, and similar workshops.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program, or EFSP, is federally funded. It works in cooperation with a network of food pantries operated by local churches and charity organizations to distribute emergency food to those in need. While more limited, there may be financial help to pay rent or a utility bill, if it will prevent an eviction.
With funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 Rental Voucher Program, EMAA's Housing Program provides emergency assistance to area residents who are experiencing difficulty in making monthly rent payments.
The Public Housing Agency currently administers thousands of Housing Choice Vouchers to assist the elderly, very low-income residents, and the disabled with obtaining affordable, safe, and sanitary housing. While there is a waiting list in place, participants in this program typically are required to pay a portion of their income toward rent and security deposits. The state of Missouri Housing Agency picks up the difference for that total rent amount.
Another division of the Department, the Housing Rehabilitation Program, partners with East Missouri Community Action Agency as well. They use a US Department of Agriculture Preservation Grant and receive funding from the Missouri Housing Development Commission to help homeowners with a mortgage or other costs they may incur.
LIHEAP, or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program with two main areas of concentration. The first is the Energy Assistance and the second is the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). More details are below.
Energy Assistance provides direct financial help with paying heating bills on a one-time-only basis. To qualify for this government grant, the applicant must meet income guidelines and be the responsible party for the household's heating bill.
On the other hand, the purpose of ECIP from East Missouri Action Agency is to alleviate the threat of impending disconnection or a complete lack of heating fuel. In addition to these national programs, the EMAA Community Services Department also acts as administrator for privately funded emergency energy programs such as the St. Francois County Senior Citizen Fund, Dollar More, Round-Up, Dollar Help, and resources from Atmos Energy.
As many Missouri residents know, home energy costs are high. To help income-eligible renters and homeowners with these expenses, Weatherization provides free services to income qualified families. It will help make homes more energy-efficient.
In addition to lowering utility bills and reducing costs, these alterations create a healthier, more comfortable environment for the home's occupants, especially the disabled, the very young, and senior citizens. Weatherization, or WAP services, also help with reducing state and national energy consumption, which includes the use of imported fuel.
Government regulations and program regulations stipulate that each home can receive the WAP services one time only, and that landlords will be asked to share in covering some of the cost of the alterations. Home alterations are provided based on an on-site home energy audit, and may include the installation of weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows, extra insulation of attic, walls, floors, and exposed pipes, the repair, tune up or replacement of heating system. There is also education and tips given by contracts from the community action agency.
SEMO Assets is a matched funds program that operates in the region, including Madison, Perry, and Washington counties. It helps low-income or working poor families save money toward achieving a goal, like paying for post-secondary education, purchasing a home or maybe starting a small business.
As part of SEMO, participating clients are paired with credit counselors, who provide support services and information in regard to budgeting, money management, credit repair, and micro-enterprise development.
The Wise Woman Program is a form of medical care. It is for women between the ages of 35 and 64 who have participated in the Show Me Healthy Women. It offers free life-saving diagnostic screenings and healthy-lifestyle education.
Participants also are required to high-risk criteria, including but not limited to having diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, or a tobacco addiction. As part of this, East Missouri Action Agency will arrange for a free diagnostic exam and lab work, followed up with education and counseling on developing a healthier lifestyle.
Head Start is a child development program for children in ages from three to five and that are also from low-income families in Cape Girardeau, Perry, Bollinger, or Ste. Genevieve County. The Head Start approach focuses on cognitive, educational, social, and physical development, with a strong emphasis on parental and family involvement.
EMAA and its partners will provide children with free Medical and Dental Health Screenings, Nutritious Meals and Nutrition Awareness, Follow-Up Care, and also Individualized Services for Children with Disabilities.
The locations of East Missouri Action Agency are as follows.
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