While financial aid from Interfaith Human Services is available, a primary goal is to help Centre County families gain financial stability. Some of their main clients include the disabled and senior citizens in the county, and staff or volunteers from the agency offer them Money Management and other support.
For those that qualify for financial assistance, there may be funds for paying rent to stop an eviction or prevent homelessness. Other assistance is for winter heating bills, food, and maybe vouchers for medications. The goal is to help people of all backgrounds, including senior citizens, in Centre County with basic needs.
Budgeting and financial literacy is emphasized. With the average monthly Social Security disability or retirement payment being $750 in Centre County, it leaves very little room for error in the budget or it doesn’t leave extra money for addressing emergencies. Interfaith Human Services knows that it doesn’t take a great financial crisis to send a family into a bad situation. Too many families are faced with unexpected illness, car repairs, job loss, or an unusually cold winter that results in high heating costs or rent not being paid to their landlord.
The IHS Financial Care Programs, which include budgeting classes, money management, the representative payee program, and occasional small, short-term loans, are available to assist in guiding individuals from the county toward greater financial stability. The goal is to stabilize an individual or family to avoid the risk of having utility services terminated, being homeless or being financially unable to purchase groceries for their family. It can even assist with health care needs such as medications.
The Money Management Advice service provides an array of support to clients who are working to develop workable and effective budgets for their household. The process begins with a review of the client’s spending habits, followed by recommendations and suggestions for setting up personalized, balanced budgets and reducing expenses. They also offer referrals to non-profit credit counseling agencies as well as educational programming around dealing with debts.
The agency offers the Representative Payee Program, and the Social Security Administration has approved them for this. Staff from HIS can receive and manage disability (SSDI) and/or Social Security Income benefits on behalf of Centre County residents who are unable to manage their money themselves.
What has been shown is that many clients of this payee service have mental health issues, or disabled, or are very young or very old. The inability to manage monthly expenses or income often leads to ineffective management of funding for medications, homelessness, poor nutrition, or other choices that negatively affect housing stability or health and well-being.
Counselors from Interfaith Human Services can help with the tracking of income and expenses; Goal setting; set up with the client the payment of essential bills such as rent or power, provide debt reduction advice, and offer collaboration on the client’s behalf with other organizations and local non-profit agencies. Much more is available too.
Basic Needs Financial Assistance uses money donated by generous community members to assist working poor households coping with unavoidable or unexpected circumstances leading to financial crises. Available services from the organization, as a result of the Annual Wishing Well Campaign, include financial assistance with paying for back rent, utility bills or security deposits. Some medical needs can be met too, such as prescription medications. Payments for any program are made directly to landlords or creditors each month on a first come, first served basis.
The Interfaith Human Services Rental Assistance Program is an eviction prevention resource that provides payments to landlords on behalf of tenants who have fallen behind on their housing costs, in particular their rent. Funding is provided through the Office of Adult Services as well as Centre County Government, and eligibility for any one time aid is fully determined by these agencies.
IHS manages the Centre County Fuel Bank on behalf of various charities and non-profits. It was created as a cooperative effort of county organizations, agencies, churches and heating oil vendors. They work together to provide emergency heating bill assistance to eligible low-income households.
As with many resources, any benefits paid out are dependent upon donations received, the number of applications submitted, current heating fuel prices, and any government aid from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds allocated through the State of Pennsylvania. Current requirements of the Fuel Bank indicate that at least member of the household must attend a home energy efficiency class, which is also a key requirement of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light.
Free housing items, such as furniture and appliances, are donated by the community and local businesses. The items are then given to qualified low-income households. Centre County residents are encouraged to contact IHS about donating any used furniture or appliances, or they can apply to pick these up for free if they meet conditions.
The location of Interfaith Human Services is at 2100 E. College Ave., State College, Pennsylvania 16801. Call 814-234-7731.
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