Low income families can turn to the Ninth District Opportunity community action agency for help. The non-profit administers a number of resources and services across a wide range of Georgia. Programs can include grants for paying utility bills to low income housing, food and employment are available.
Assistance is for residents of several counties in Northern Georgia. NDO covers Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White, Cherokee, Douglas, Fannin, Gilmer, Gwinnett, Pickens, and Cobb Counties.
Community Services and social workers partner with working poor families to evaluate their challenges and each set of circumstances. Based on those results, they will identify issues that act as barriers to self-sufficiency. Then, the NDO workers formulate personalized work plans for eliminating barriers and to reduce the incidence of poverty in North Georgia communities.
While funding and resources are always limited, the community action agency may be able to offer Crisis Rent and Utility Bill Assistance, Work Experience Placement, SSDI Disability Applications, Emergency Food Assistance, Education Counseling and Referral, and Job Counseling. Other possible support includes SNAP (Food Stamp) Applications and Transportation if needed.
Ninth District Opportunity Emergency Assistance Program helps families who are facing a short term crisis by helping them meet pressing and immediate needs. Some examples of the Emergency Services include provision of a one-time utility payment to avoid termination of service. Or there may be short term shelter assistance in counties such as Cobb and Cherokee for the homeless. Grants can be used to pay rent to stop an eviction, and there is also assistance with obtaining food and groceries.
Homeless or residents facing eviction or foreclosure who meet specific eligibility criteria and agree to work with case managers can turn to NDO’s Housing Programs for help. These services help clients establish long-term stability by providing limited financial assistance (such as loans for a rent or security deposit) in combination with intense case management services. Those will be job search support or other individualized services. Multiple office visits and a long term commitment may be necessary for clients to achieve self-sufficiency and stability.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, can be applied to at Ninth District Opportunity (NDO). This is focused on eligible households experiencing difficulty paying heating bills. LIHEAP provides a one-time payment that goes directly to the primary heating vendor. The program is administered on a first come, first served basis.
The federal government requires that priority is given to households in which every member is over 65 years of age and/or homebound. If this is you, then these households are encouraged to contact NDO and LIHEAP on the first business day in November for assistance. Other households meeting income eligibility guidelines may call for an appointment beginning in December.
Weatherization helps make homes in counties such as Cobb, Forsyth, and others more energy efficient. The program targets low-income and working poor residents, with the goal of helping them save money that can be used for other purposes or bills. On average, the program spends over $5000 on alterations to each home.
Examples of the energy efficient alterations and repairs done by Ninth District Opportunity may include air sealing in attic areas, adding dense-pack wall insulation, insulation (up to R-38 level), caulking, replacement of broken window panes, door repair, window repair, weather stripping, and door sweeps. Weatherization also provides counseling and education to Georgia homeowners in regard to energy conservation. All work is provided as a grant to income-eligible homeowners or for both houses, mobile homes and trailers.
Referrals are a key offering of Ninth District Community Action. The centers have information on local churches, charities, and even federal government benefits. As noted, a wide range of territory is supported, and referrals may be presented to charities in Douglas, Hart, Gwinnett, Cobb and many other counties.
Head Start is the state’s main comprehensive early childhood education program that provides support to children. It will focus on their cognitive, physical, and social development of children from birth to age five.
Other Head Start programming from NDO includes family development services, dental screenings with follow-up care, individualized programming for children with special needs or disabilities, free medical care and nutritious meals and snacks from the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Participating families in northern Georgia must meet income guidelines. Note that those households whose income exceeds the guidelines may still receive limited Head Start Service. The program is well regarded, as almost 20 of the NDO Head Start Centers are accredited as high quality programs by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The Georgia Pre-K Program is available to a limited number of children from households from any income bracket in the region, including Gwinnett, Forsyth, and Stephens. Pre-K offers children the opportunity to learn skills necessary for school readiness and long term growth. The program environment is positive, nurturing, and fun, instilling a love for learning in young children.
The main offices are below. Not all counties have access to all of the assistance programs, and resources are limited.
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