The assistance provided by Minnesota Valley Action Council begins with the case management process. Based on the results of this, income qualified families may be found eligible for everything from a grant to pay certain bills or other services, such as weatherization or educational support.
Thousands of families will usually receive some form of help from the organization. A wide geographic area is supported, including the counties of Blue Earth, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Brown, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan.
Financial assistance with rent and paying other housing expenses is available. In most cases a low interest loan is used. However, there may be instances in which government grants fill that need. Any funds are only for income-eligible households, and they need to apply through MVAC’s case management service.
When resources allow, assistance is typically limited to one month only. The applicant's housing costs must be affordable over the long term in comparison with their total household income, which is required to be lower than certain Federal Government Poverty Guidelines.
The program also provides financial help to the homeless in counties such as Blue Earth or Marting and there is also support to those who are at risk of eviction. The applicant will need to show documentation of the situation and indicate willingness to participate in follow-up support services. In addition, any aid paid out for rent or a security deposit will also require a safety inspection of the rental unit prior to issuing funds.
Minnesota Valley Action Council helps at-risk south central households avoid or prevent homelessness or evictions. This is done through the Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) and the RHASP (Rural Housing Assistance and Stabilization Program).
Section 8 Housing provides additional support for low-income families or the working poor. There is also a focus on seniors in Faribault, Le Sueur, or Waseca who are experiencing difficulty with paying their monthly rent on a consistent basis. The HUD program requires that applicants lease a home from private landlords, and that their ongoing rent and utility payments account for 30 percent of family income.
The state of Minnesota Energy Assistance Program provides grant funding to help low-income residents with paying their heating, gas and other energy bills. EAP furnishes funds to those who earn a regular wage. There can also be financial aid provided to the self-employed, seniors, homeowners, renters, and those who lease a home if their heat is included in their rent payments, but who pay for electricity.
The Weatherization Assistance Program is often offered at the same time as EAP. It furnishes energy-saving alterations and improvements to the homes of homeowners or low-income renters who meet program requirements. The goal is to reduce the cost of fuel and electricity bills. This will have a side benefit of freeing up money to cover other expenses, such as food or medical bills.
Funds are provided from Minnesota Valley Action Council (by way of the federal government) in the form of a one-time-only grant, so the client is not obligated to pay for any of the materials or labor on their own. Based on an evaluation of the home, available services may include, adding caulking, installing weather-stripping, installing all sorts of additional insulation, and performing heating unit tune-ups and modifications.
Inexpensive cars can be bought using MVAC's Wheel Get There Program. The organization takes in donations of automobiles, which are then passed on to low-income clients who are in need of transportation for work reasons. The applicant needs to be unable to afford a vehicle purchased from a dealer or private party. The prices of each unit sold will vary in regard to mileage, age and potential to be a long-term solution to their transportation needs.
Available in all nine counties in the MVAC service area, Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM) is a long-term matched savings plan that provides an opportunity for income-eligible applicants to buy an asset. The money can be used for purchasing a home, paying for higher education, or a micro-businesses. The program provides a special savings account for each individual who qualifies. All earned income deposited into the account will be matched as well from both both public and private sources.
A free child development program known as Head Start serves children from struggling or unemployed families. MVAC’s staff promote school readiness for preschool-age children by providing an array of services that promote self-acceptance as well as a strong interest in learning.
All services arranged, such as education, health care, hot meals, and more are provided with each child’s unique abilities and needs in mind. The Head Start Program runs from September through May of each year. Depending on availability, transportation may be available in some counties including Nicollet or Waseca for those who need it.
The non-profits MN Youth Services help young people from age 14 to age 21 combine learning with work. The program helps clients with identifying skills and interests and then establishing career plans. The next step will be the agency coordinating work experience to develop good habits and job skills. Mentors will assist as they make the transition from public school to college, the military, or full time employment.
Retirees as well as older adults often need to brush up on their job skills and learn about new technologies in order to find work. The Minnesota Valley Action Council Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) helps by placing individuals over the age of 55 in paid positions. The job will pay a small salary. Positions will be at area schools, day care centers, charities, hospitals, and other organizations.
Minnesota Valley Action Council has offices in each county. To learn about how the agency can help, if at all, residents can call a center near them.
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