The non-profit Organized Community Action Program offers services designed for those facing poverty. There is help for low-income families and individuals in several counties in Alabama, including Butler, Bullock, Pickens, Covington, Crenshaw, Lowndes, Dale, Pike, and Walker County. Some resources are also focused on the disabled or senior citizens. Examples of assistance programs offered include educational, housing and free food. These are just some of the resources provided by the community action agency.
The organization administers a Head Start program to provide early childhood development services to the youth under the age of 6. The service is customized to each child’s developmental level and accommodates all races, religion, and also disabled students.
The program provides enrollees with the opportunity to grow and express themselves through music and math. The children from counties such as Pickens and Crenshaw learn about and take classes on words, numbers, books, reading and the world around them. All of this will help the child achieve long term success.
Head Start from OCAP also employs a character-building curriculum that teaches values. This curriculum helps children understand and develop character. Parents are an integral part of the process as well, as Head Start works with both children and parents to foster successful transitions to kindergarten. All of this is done in an effort to encourage the development of self-confidence and growth of the student.
Early Head Start provides comprehensive services to expectant children under the age of 3, mothers, infants and toddlers. The Organized Community Action center-based services are available for infants and toddlers, and home-based services are provided for pregnant women.
Working with regional credit counseling agencies, Homebuyer education is provided by the organization through an affordable plan that has been created using HUD funds. This is available as a comprehensive set of informational sessions and counseling services for low- and moderate-income households.
The community action agency emphasizes saving money and asset building. This is done by encouraging its clients to purchase or maybe even rehabilitate homes in Alabama. Program topics include money management, homebuyer readiness, credit comprehension, mortgages and wealth creation.
Participants from Organized Community Action Program that enroll in the homebuyer education program must attend an orientation class. These will be held in each service county. Or they may be organized directly by the credit counseling group.
In addition, many local HUD certified agencies provide housing services that include pre- and post-purchase counseling, foreclosure prevention, and tips on how to deal with a mortgage default.
This process is similar to some others in that it also includes budget and debt management, energy conservation, and home maintenance information. In regards to defaults and delinquencies, the non-profit agency first works with qualified homeowners to identify the sources of the problem. After this has been done, specialists then helps them search for resources within their means to rectify financial deficiencies.
When necessary, some of the local agencies counsel clients about avoiding potential eviction proceedings and/or foreclosure. The organization either utilizes internal resources or they refer people to external services for assistance, including no interest loans for expenses such as rent.
Or OCAP may link people to other community resources to help ensure that families can make their rent or mortgage payments on time. Staff may also help clients apply for occupancy and rent subsidies, such as section 8 vouchers. Lastly, they will counsel tenants regarding how to deal with their landlord.
Counseling on home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), also known as reverse mortgages, is available as well. This form of lending is open to individuals 62 years of age or older who own and occupy a single-family home. The residence must be free and clear of debt or have a small remaining balance that can be paid off with any type of financing from the reverse mortgage.
OCAP offers several energy bill assistance programs to help households in Bullock, Butler, Walker and other areas with heating, gas, and even cooling bill payments. These programs include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Emergency Food and Shelter Program (as government grants become available), and staff can have information on payment plans for Alabama energy providers. As part of LIHEAP, Organized Community Action makes payments directly to utility companies on behalf of income-eligible clients.
For individuals in emergency situations, there is a resource to assists them in obtaining the help they need. This program provides bus tokens for individuals who come to the office for services, case management, food vouchers, rent and mortgage payment assistance, vouchers for lifeline telephone assistance, and water-bill payment assistance. Note that most of that will be offered by referrals to other agencies in the area, such as Covington, Pickens, or Lowndes County.
In addition to all of that, the non-profit helps clients obtain birth certificates, police checks, referrals for other social services, prescribed medications and state identification cards. They also offer guidance on applying for benefits such as SNAP food stamps or government grants.
The organization provides free food vouchers for families in need by partnering with several local charity agencies and churches. Picture identification and income verification must be presented at the local office in order to receive food vouchers.
Furthermore, OCAP and local agency on aging centers operate a Meals on Wheels program. This is the tool that is used to deliver midday meals to individuals who are homebound and/or unable to prepare meals for themselves. It is a volunteer-based program that is partially funded by churches, Federal Emergency Management Agency EFSP and donations. The agency collaborates with other groups, such as area churches to ensure that meals are delivered on weekends.
The main offices of the Organized Community agency are as follows.
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