Residents across the city of Tallahassee Florida as well as the entire county can call the non-profit crisis referal line. Free information will be given by call center staff on a number of low income assistance programs tat operate in Leon County. Whether the need is for housing, food, or help to pay an energy bill, there may be some form of aid offered. In addition, non-profit agencies will also try to put people in contact with job placement type services as well.
The Leon County crisis line will only offer information. Specialists from the service have access to databases in which they can review available programs in the region and direct callers to them. At that point the person will need to apply to that group. The process will vary by agency.
There are two primary federal government programs to help with utility bills. They include LIHEAP as well as weatherization. The staff at the Leon County crisis line can direct callers to application sites for these. Each has their own income qualifications as well as application process in place. Support will be provided on a first come and served basis and there is usually a waiting list in place.
LIHEAP, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, will offer grants for paying utility and electric bills. It was created help households pay for summer cooling bills and heating costs. Some senior may be given a free cooling fan during the hot summer. This is a one time benefit paid out. LIHEAP begins in September for senior citizens in Leon County and continues through May, or when funding is exhausted.
A crisis component of LIHEAP is also available. This is for low income families that have had their power disconnected. The main different is that any grant will be paid out to the client in less time than from the standard service. One other option, the Emergency Furnace Program, will give homeowners the ability to receive HVAC repairs or replacements.
The crisis line team can go over the general application terms, but people will normally need to stop by a Leon County Florida social service office or community action agency to apply. In general, families will be eligible to receive assistance under LIHEAP if their household combined income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
LIHEAP also has a Summer Cooling Program. This is only available based on State of Florida funding levels. Households from Tallahassee that are eligible for grants for air conditioning bills include the elderly age 60 and older, those with children under the age of five years, or people with a medical condition or illness that requires cooling.
Contact the Leon County crisis line for information on Weatherization. Agencies from across the region work with clients to decrease the energy consumption of their home. Priority is given to senior citizens as well as disabled households with high-energy consumption and single parents with children. For people that have referred to LIHEAP Energy Bill Assistance (see above), that person will automatically be referred to this free service.
Staff try to offer families information on many solutions. There is the Family Homeless Prevention Program as well as other assistance. They are all designed to provide direct financial aid as well as intensive case management or supportive counseling to prevent homelessness. There are also agencies across Leon County that will move homeless families into short term shelter and then eventually stable housing.
Most of the local funding comes from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. This is administered by representatives from various organizations. They will determine how any type of government funds will be distributed. However, in general, the funds are used primarily for first month's rent and eviction prevention. In addition, if possible, there may be some money, such as a loan, offered for mortgage foreclosure and utility bill assistance if that will stop homelessness from occurring.
The Leon County crisis line has information on transitional housing units throughout the region and all of Leon County. This temporary housing is interim shelter between homelessness and permanent housing. Tenants will need to pay some money for rent, and their time in the units are limited. It also offers case management, and the social worker and tenant work together to develop skills to create a permanent housing plan.
Homeowners can benefit from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. This was created by partners of the United Way crisis line to address the foreclosure crisis. Trained counselors work with households and the lenders to develop a loss mitigation plan to prevent foreclosure.
The first option are the Emergency Food Pantries. These are available for those without groceries at home. Or there can also be free groceries for people waiting for food stamp benefits to start. Similar to this is a resource for children. This is the Summer Nutrition Program provides for free, balanced, nutritious meals to all children 18 years of age and younger. This is offered to ensure that nutritional needs are met during the long summer vacation. It in effect replaces free school lunches or breakfasts that many children from Leon County Florida receive.
As noted, this is what the crisis line is all about. Many other programs are available as well, such as section 8 vouchers, disability applications, and more. When applying for any type of help, people should bring Picture ID, preferably a driver’s license, Social Security cards for every member of the household, Proof of income (not more than 30 days old), and copy of benefit letters, such as for food stamps or HUD housing. Staff will offer callers information on needed resources through a comprehensive information network in Leon County. Dial 877.211.7005.
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