St. Vincent de Paul of Middlesex County is involved in administering several different programs for low income families in eastern and northern Massachusetts. A higher priority is put on supporting individuals that are faced with a short term crisis that could potentially lead to homelessness or hunger. More information is available directly from the churches that are part of agency, but some of the highlights on their services are below.
Cash grants may be disbursed from Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Or a local food pantry will provide groceries or maybe a box of food. If the family needs longer term support, then they can be directed to the local social service office for applications to LIHEAP or other benefits.
When it comes to utility and just as importantly heating bill assistance, there are several different resources that make up the Energy Assistance Program. This can be provided to the residents of Middlesex County or the city of Lowell or Haverhill. There may be funds for paying utility bills, ranging from water to electric.
Any type of help will be in the form of a credit to the account. In some cases, a household will receive a small cash payment toward a current monthly bill. Or if the customer does not qualify for those, then they can get help in entering into a payment plan that will be based on the total household income. Eligibility for these Middlesex County St. Vincent de Paul programs is usually based on factors such as the number of people that live in the home as well as the total household income.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates a homeless assistance program as well. This combines loans and financial aid as part of Emergency Food and Shelter Program as well as shelter or transitional housing. The goal is to get people into a safe environment. They volunteers will help participants obtain long term housing.
Tenants with an eviction notice can apply for rent help from Emergency Food and Shelter. This is an annual grant program that can assist income qualified families that are in a crisis. When available, these emergency funds can assist with not only back rent, but also regulated gas and electric utility bills. There may even be very limited assistance with water bill and sewer payments.
Any money issued is very limited. Therefore, in many cases a copay is necessary from the applicant to pay the complete bill or rent payment. Also, an applicant must have used up all other resources located in the local Middlesex County community.
The housing solutions available are intended to be an alternative to the current system of shelter and/or homelessness. Staff will offer clients individualized supportive services to help each household transition to stability. After the crisis has been addressed, it is usually easier to help the low income resident solve other needs as well as set goals for continued self-sufficiency. Included in these support services are referrals to area resources, advice on planning towards stabilizing a housing situation and much more.
Weatherization can also be used as a long term solution to energy needs. This is offered by referrals only, and it really effective for some of the older homes in Middlesex County. It can help the homeowner improve the efficiency of their home, which will then lead to reduced energy consumption. Another side benefit of the federal weatherization program is it will also lead to safe environments for income eligible households.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers can help people apply for this, but there is usually a long waiting list. If the family is selected, they will be given a free on-site inspection and energy audit of their home. This can lead to cleaning and tune up of heating system, extra insulation, air sealing measures including window and door repair, insulation of attic, and much more.
Residents of Middlesex County may be able to find nutritious meals and groceries from the food pantry. There are also congregate meal sites for mobile seniors or those with a disability. The last option are the Home Delivered Meal program.
Each of these resources will offer different forms of assistance to income qualified applicants. They can include a free hot, nutritious meal served mid-day. Or there can be a box of groceries from the pantry, and there will be rice, canned fruits, dairy goods, and more. As far as Meals on Wheels, this is for impaired or home bound individuals in cities such as Lowell Massachusetts.
Those are just some of the resources available from Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The office can also serve as a source of information for people on understanding various state of Massachusetts and federal benefits. The fact is many residents of Middlesex County go without basic needs because they don’t know that there are public benefits for which they are eligible. So the advice from case managers can assist people with understanding the confusion that is out there, and help them apply for what they need.
This is a church based group. A couple locations include 701 Merrimack St, Lowell, Massachusetts 01854 (call 978) 453-7750) as well as 120 Bellevue Avenue in Haverhill, and that number is (978) 372-7721.
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