One of the leading agencies that is responsible for offering financial assistance programs that are targeted to helping low-income families is the Essex County Division of Community Action. The non-profit provides financial and case management type support. They can be called upon during both short term emergencies and more long term financial hardships, such as when faced with poverty. Among resources available, the organization offers housing counseling, financial support for bills, referrals, and information on long term aid such as job placement. A number of other resources are also administered by the division.
The Home Energy Universal Services Program assists households that meet the federal government’s income guidelines. The program will help families with paying a portion of their home utility or energy bills. Initially, the eligible household from Essex County that is applying for help can’t be able to pay their utility bills on their own due to some form of hardship and/or uncontrollable circumstances. Using some funds that may be readily available, emergency assistance is paid out by the community action agency to income eligible clients. Note that anyone that applies for help needs to be able to pay their energy or heating bills on their own in the future. As this is one time only assistance.
Another assistance program that happens but once a year is Gift of Warmth. This relies on donations from the public and local businesses. Whenever possible, cash assistance is made available to support income eligible families. The aid is only for customers of the company known as Natural Gas only.
Additional support is from the non-profit program known as New Jersey SHARE. This is a utility bill assistance program that helps low to moderate income households who do not qualify for federal government or state benefits, such as LIHEAP. The non-profit organization works with the Essex County Division of Community Action and dozens of other local charities and groups in the state to provide grants to struggling families.
In order to be eligible for this service, a form needs to be completed and then appointments are made. The client will need to meet with a Home Energy staff member of the Essex County Division of Community Action for an assessment process. In general, a few hundred dollars can be received from the SHARES program.
During the hot New Jersey summer months, assistance in paying for air conditioning or cooling bill assistance may be available as well. This is only for those that have a medical condition and those in which their doctor has approved their request.
Housing assistance is available from the Division of Community Action. What may be available in Essex County New Jersey includes Homelessness Prevention, Emergency Rent Assistance, cash grants, and counseling. This will also include tenant mediations services and information on a wide range of low interest loan offerings.
Clients may receive financial assistance, get help in negotiating with their mortgage company or landlord, referrals, and more. In some cases a loan may be issued for paying rent or other expenses, such as moving costs or a security deposit.
Housing counselors from The Essex County Division of Community Action provides advice and recommendations to clients on various issues. It can range from mortgage assistance, foreclosure prevention, default and delinquency to renter type issues. Those can include tenant-landlord mediation and information on affordable housing in the state. Some government funding is also available as part of FEMA and the counseling process to assist eligible applicants with one month’s back rent or a partial mortgage payment.
Not only that, but residents can get information and lists on low income and public housing units. The overall goal of these various services is to both prevent homelessness and rehouse those that need a place to live.
Other resources from the division include help for first time home buyers, information on section 8 HUD housing vouchers, and loans for repairs. Those tend to be for seniors and the disabled. All eligible applicants to any housing program must agree to use credit counseling and other sessions that can help with self-sufficiency goals.
The Essex County Division of Community Action Head Start Centers are for children from low income families. Their parents may also benefit. The federal government originally created Head Start to be a comprehensive pre-school program for children from poor and otherwise disadvantaged families. It addresses education, health needs, social services, job training for parents, and other special needs.
The program will, among other things, teach children about life and their communities. It will protect their health and overall wellbeing. Food, medical and dental needs, and other support is offered too. Head Start classrooms are located at sites across Essex County and Newark.
Weatherization provides benefits to low to moderate income households in the county. They can receive free energy conservation improvements to their home, especially older dwellings. The program from the Essex County Division of Community Action will reduce energy costs and give the occupants a safer and healthier environment.
The benefits of this service were designed to reduce heating bills by making the dwelling more energy efficient. Not only that, but the homeowners heating systems are also evaluated for carbon monoxide, safety measures, energy efficiency, fuel leaks and more. Also receive Insulation of attics and crawlspaces, hot water tank repairs, caulking, minor roof repairs, and other updates.
Numerous other social services and government benefits are available in Essex County. Referrals may be made to resources such as SNAP food stamps, Medicaid applications, and aging centers for seniors. Staff from the community action division can also have referrals to other churches, charities, and non-profits in New Jersey that all have the common goal of helping the least fortunate among us.
To learn more or apply for aid, the center is at 50 S. Clinton Street, East Orange, NJ 07018. The main number is (973) 395-8350.
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