A customer service type line is run by crisis helpline. Families across the city and county of Saint Louis can get information on financial assistance programs and referrals to basic needs. A wide spectrum of information is given to residents. Most of it will involve referring the caller to social service agencies or non-profits that offer support.
The crisis line is only available due to donations from the public and organizations such as the United Way. Additional sources of funding come from the federal government. While the hours of the service are limited, the goal is to help as many families in the region as possible.
Maintaining heat and electricity, especially during the colder Missouri months, is critical. So the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP will help working poor families. The focus is on low-income individuals that have a member of the household that is disabled or a senior. Callers will also be referred to the Weatherization Assistance Program for free energy conservation measures if their home has not been previously weatherized.
LIHEAP assists participants with utility bill payments. The St. Louis crisis helpline can also direct callers to resources that can assist homeowners with heating system improvements. There are also vendors that will deliver emergency oil or issue a grant to help keep the power on.
Some non-profits across St. Louis also offer Water Bill Assistance. The goal is to assist economically challenged households that are facing a shut off of their service. There may be funds available in the community to pay their water bills, or professionals can help mediate some form of payment plan.
St. Louis crisis helpline will ensure families meet the eligibility criteria. As an example, in order to apply for a grant, the individual must have a shut-off notice from their provider. They also need to have documentation such as the Social Security numbers and birth dates of all members of the household as well as proof of income.
Rent help or funds for paying security deposits are met by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. This is a federal government funded program that was created as a result of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 and that is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Grants are issued to families or people facing homelessness. Agencies coordinate the provision of shelter, food, mortgage and rental assistance, and related supportive services. EFSP is really targeted at hungry and homeless people across the city of St. Louis.
Foreclosure Prevention is available for struggling homeowners. Clients can be referred by the helpline to any one of a number of U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Certified Housing Counseling agencies. Each center in the region has with trained staff to assist families that are facing a foreclosure.
After an interview is done, the homeowners are provided assistance. The counseling and support will ideally prevent them from losing their home, or rehousing the family into a more affordable property in there are no other options available. As part of the mortgage modification process, legal services are also available through related programs and collaborations. Counselors from the HUD certified agencies work directly with clients, banks, and others to prevent foreclosure.
Affordable single unit apartments or Multifamily Housing in Saint Louis County is for low income individuals and families. Many agencies, including PHA and landlords that participate in section 8, offer residents comfortable, affordable housing. Some units will allow HUD vouchers to be used for paying a portion of the rent.
Staff from the helpline will refer individuals and families to low income apartments. The goal is to ensure that people live healthy or safe environments. If this can be met, then the family will not need to sacrifice other basic needs in order to pay for housing.
Anyone that needs food can call the Helpline in Saint Louis. The customer service staff will direct people to resources such as a local pantry or help them apply to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The center can provide advice on the screening and application assistance for food stamps.
Social service offices in the community can help people complete the necessary applications. They will also schedule a confidential screening to see what, if any other benefits can be applied to, such as WIC or the USDA Commodities Program for senior citizens.
Employment services will help with GEDs and increasing educational levels. Referrals are available from the helpline to a wide variety of English and Math classes, and sessions are available in Spanish and English.
Non-profits also work with workforce investment centers to address underemployment in the region. There are staff that will help train people on the latest skills that are needed for jobs in the IT sector or other up and coming parts of the economy.
Parents in school or working and that need help paying for child care can call upon St. Louis crisis helpline. There are federal and state of Missouri subsidies that can help pay for a family’s costs. Or the grants will pay for a portion of the bills as they are a sliding fee service.
In order to enroll, parents must be income eligible and need day care so that they can continue to work, attend school or job search. The children that lives in the St. Louis area home must be under the age of 13 as well. There can be exceptions made if the child has a disability. The crisis helpline also has a database of approved child care providers in the county.
For referrals, call the helpline at (800) 427-4626. Staff will link the family to programs for their needs.
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