Help and information from Highland Area Christian Service Ministry.

Much of the aid from Highland Area Christian Service Ministry (HACSM) is in the form of referrals, however they will provide some services directly to families that are facing a crisis. Assistance is only offered in certain parts of Madison County, including the cities of Highland, Grantfork, St. Jacob, Alhambra, Marine, New Douglas, and Pierron. The non-profit will emphasize housing issues in the greater Madison County region, and focus on eviction and general homeless prevention.

While all resources and funding is limited, there are various emergency housing and rent assistance programs in the region. Each one is designed to help individuals and families who are homeless or in immediate danger of becoming evicted, whether from missing a rent or mortgage payment.

Most of the non-profits in Madison County, including HACSM, operate a phone line to first assess the circumstances of at-risk individuals and families. Based on the results of this, they may be able to direct them to housing assistance programs or some other Madison Illinois County resource.

Local agencies will offer emergency financial aid, as funding allows, or some will issue loans. They can help with a partial payment and also provide clients with case management, financial literacy education, budget counseling, and employment referrals. HACSM aims to do more than resolve short-term problems and, therefore, helps clients create a foundation for future financial stability.

There is guidance and support from HACSM in applying for government benefits, and they range from SNAP food stamps to other state and federal programs such as LIHEAP. The volunteers from the churches that are part of Highland Area Christian Service Ministry want to get struggling families the help they need, so all resources are explored.

Other self-sufficiency services are provided, and they include help with job searches or classes on creating resumes. They also fully participate in the AARP Tax Service, and this can help the elderly complete their income tax returns.

There are some seasonal programs available in Madison County too, and they include free Easter Baskets for children, back to School Supplies, and the Christmas Gift Program. There may also be meals and food boxes passed out as well.




Moreover, Highland Area Christian Service Ministry has information on local workshops that can teach individuals and families about methods that can reduce everyday expenses and how to save money more effectively. The workshop covers budgeting techniques and money management and explains how to save expenses such as taxes, cell phones, student loans, cable television and home repairs. The workshop also demonstrates how to make safe investments, improve credit scores to secure less-expensive loans, and file effective complaints against unscrupulous entities.

The local agencies in Madison County also provides a variety of services to help individuals manage their finances and improve their financial situation. Counseling is available to families who need to craft a budget that fits their means, while including their income and typical expenses. Clients who already live under a budget can work with counselors to find additional ways to save money on bills and ordinary costs they face.

Furthermore, another benefit is that counseling helps clients manage credit card bills via debt management plans, or DMP, that can lower interest rates and monthly payments to creditors or any banks. Counselors evaluate clients’ income, expenses and debt in order to determine a way to create a balanced budget.

Individuals who are considering a declaration of bankruptcy can consult a local non-profit credit counseling agency, of which Highland Area Christian Service Ministry will have information on them. Together the company and the consumer can review all available options before taking such action.

As part of this process, well trained and experienced counselors inform individuals of the trade-offs involved in declaring bankruptcy and provide direction on how to obtain the requisite court certificate for filings, if that seems to be the best option. The non-profit notes that bankruptcy should be the last alternative for people struggling with financial problems.

Programs available by referrals from HACSM

Much of this following will be available from referrals. The agency has information on housing solutions, including local HUD approved housing counseling agencies, and the organization’s counselors have been certified to offer guidance and advice for various homeownership-related issues. This can range from foreclosure prevention to information on federal government home loan modification resources.





In Madison County, there is free, or low cost, mortgage delinquency counseling from HUD agencies, and it is intended for homeowners who have fallen behind on their payments. This service helps individuals manage expenses and debt, and staff from local agency's work with both homeowners and lenders to resolve the situation.

Very similar to all of that is the foreclosure prevention counseling. This provides assistance to homeowners who are at least three months delinquent on mortgage payments and facing the loss of their home.

Christian Service Ministry examines all options to help clients stay in their homes and get back on track with their payments. The organization explains potential loss-mitigation alternatives and procures detailed loan balance information and payment records from banks and lenders. Another key service from specilaists is when they help people draft hardship letters and gather documentation to support home loan workouts. In addition, counselors support homeowners in negotiations for modifications that are satisfactory to all parties involved.

HUD has also authorized the agency to perform reverse mortgage counseling. This is focused on seniors, and HACSM or its partners help homeowners who are 62 years of age and older understand and obtain reverse mortgage loans. Under this type of program, loans are taken out against the equity in homes and recipients do not have to make any payments as long as they reside in their home. The money obtained through these forms of reverse mortgage can be used to repair homes or supplement monthly income or even pay off existing mortgages.

For referrals in Madison County, call 1-800-427-4626. Learn about services from Highland Area Christian Service Ministry and other charities.







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