Addressing poverty in Kendall and Grundy County, the regional Community Action Agency can help low income and working poor families. The agency combines both short term aid, such as energy bill assistance, weatherization, and transportation, with long term support, including educational assistance and scholarships.
The agency provides qualified individuals with access to needed resources through a comprehensive information network. Case managers may also provide referrals to local charities or those government benefits in Illinois that can help relieve many of the problems faced by struggling individuals.
Assistance with paying for household energy costs as well as heating bills is provided by Community Action through three services. The main components and types of resources are below.
The LIHEAP - Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was designed to help households in the service territory. It can help pay for winter and summer utility bills and offers a one-time cash grant to eligible households. Families that have been disconnected from an energy source may be eligible for financial assistance as well from Kendall-Grundy Community Action. Lastly, LIHEAP provides emergency services for paying utility bills to qualified households facing a disconnection.
The state of Illinois reconnect assistance program is a one time solution for households that have been shut off from their utility services because of non-payment. Funds may be available for paying a connection fee or any back bills due to their power company.
The emergency furnace program is another option. This offers struggling households from Grundy or Kendall County with a free furnace tune up, repair or replacement. This is very limited in scope and availability though.
A summer cooling bill program is administered, contingent on state of Illinois funding. Households with children under five years of age, persons 60 years of age or older, and individuals with a disability or a serious medical condition that require a cool living environment are eligible for financial assistance under this program.
The Community Action Agency also administers Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance, or IHWAP. This can help residents save fuel and money on their utilities while increasing the comfort of their homes.
Qualified low income families will benefit from trained agency staff who will assess the condition of their home. As part of this, they will conduct audits to determine what work can be done to save the most energy. The improvements done on the home as part of weatherization may include sealing cracks with weather stripping, repairing windows, or insulating attics and walls.
In addition, also under IHWAP, experienced heating contractors also examine a home’s heating system to ensure that it is safe and in good working order. Specialists that are approved by Kendall-Grundy Community Action may repair, clean and tune and/or retrofit a furnace, and in some cases, the unit may be replaced if it needs to be.
Kendall-Grundy Community Action Agency helps individuals obtain reliable vehicles for employment purposes through its Drive to Success program. This is rarely available at it depends on a partnership between Community Action, local business and private donors.
Studies show that access to affordable transportation is the most common barrier to finding and maintaining employment. For those that enroll, after 12 months, a car title is signed over to program participants if they have been continuously employed and can make small monthly payments for a year.
Drive to Success also helps clients with paying for car repairs from volunteer mechanics. In order to receive such financial assistance for an automobile, participants must complete an application and provide proof of insurance, the car registration, show employment, a valid driver’s license and provide two repair estimates. Applicants also must rely on the vehicle as their only means of transportation to work.
Small business loans are available through the non-profit via its micro-loan program. This resource assists with the establishment or expansion of a micro-business in Kendall or nearby counties. The Community Action Agency defines a small business as any proprietorship or small corporation that provides self-employment for borrowers on a full-time, year-round basis.
Furthermore, the agency also offers scholarships to help children or even adults that meet income guidelines to continue their education. These federally funded scholarships may be used for paying for books, tuition and fees, school supplies, and/or room and board. Please keep in mind that all awards are made directly to a college or university’s financial aid office for use by students as needed.
Individuals eligible for scholarships must be residents of either Grundy or Kendall County and members of income-eligible households. Recipients must possess a high school diploma or GED, or graduate from an accredited high school or GED-administering institution. Candidates also must be accepted into an occupational training program, Illinois college or university, and show other forms of self-sufficiency. This may include they need to demonstrate commitment to civic and public affairs and display long term goals and purpose.
The location of the main office is 811 West John Street, Yorkville, Illinois 60560. Call (630) 553-9100 for details.
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