The Tompkins Community Action, or TCAction, provides assistance across the county and in the Ithaca area. While the agency does provide referrals and information on government assistance, they also processes applications for several public assistance programs as well. Examples of what may be provided includes weatherization, information on job training, Head Start and employment.
Conservation and free energy saving measures are installed in rental units and owner occupied homes through the Tompkins Community Action Weatherization Assistance Program. The assistance program is available for free to income-qualified families, homeowners, and landlords. Examples of the energy saving measures can include heating system repairs or replacement, insulation and air sealing, refrigerator replacements, hot water heater repairs or replacements, and free energy efficient light bulbs, faucets, and showerheads. Weatherization can also provide for safety issues. This will normally be the installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke detectors as well as health and safety check combustible appliances.
Assisted Home Performance is available in partnership with the state of New York Energy Star program. It helps income eligible households save money as well. They can lower their energy bills and make their homes safer and more comfortable. AHP will match as much as 50% of their total costs (up to $5,000) for improvement to their home.
For those that qualify, Assisted Home Performance, as well as EmPower NY which is for lower income NYSEG and National Grid customers, can provide for the following. Customers will be provided with free cost-effective improvements. can pay for window and doors replacement, insulation upgrades and air sealing, heating systems furnace repair or replacement, miscellaneous health and safety measures, ENERGY STAR appliances and other updates. Staff from TCAction are certified as a BPI Accredited Contractor by the Building Performance Institute. Contractors are trained and certified to deliver safe and reliable services to the homeowners.
The Head Start program will help promote school readiness among children from low income families by enhancing their skills, preparing them for school and improving their social development through a comprehensive preschool curriculum. Some of what is available includes free dental, medical and hearing screenings, skill assessments and parent teacher. Healthy meals and snacks will also be served in Ithaca too.
The parents are encouraged to be involved as they are a child's first teacher through Family classroom involvement and site activities. Enrollment periods for income eligible families from Tompkins County occurs throughout the year. There are center based and home based program options available.
TCAction, working in collaboration with school districts such as Trumansburg, offers other aid. The community action agency offers Universal Pre-Kindergarten, which is a form of a preschool Head Start program. The so called UPK Programs provide social, physical, emotional and intellectual development to students and the agency is involved in serving as a springboard for children and families’ success in school. Family Home Library is available for students and children in the Head Start and UPK program. They will be able to receive a new book and educational services.
Children and students can participate in summer programs. They are available for preschool aged children and are offered at selected sites in Ithaca and the county on a fee for service basis. The program is divided into sessions that can offer cooperative games with weekly special events, snacks for students, hands-on arts and crafts and more. State of New York Department of Social Services subsidies are accepted and limited scholarships are available as well to pay for this.
Basic needs are available. Families may receive up to three days’ worth of free food, clothing and personal care items. They will given to eligible families once a month. Clients, including the elderly, may choose foods and groceries that work best for their family, their preferences and diet needs.
Rent help is for income eligible families. Qualified individuals and households may receive rental subsidies from the government and state. Staff from Tompkins Community Action can help people apply for Section 8. Those who enroll will generally need to pay between 30-40% of their monthly adjusted income towards their housing costs, including monthly rent and energy bills. The balance is directly paid to the landlord by the government.
People facing eviction and families whose children may be placed into foster care due to missing rent or lack of adequate housing are provided with government funded Housing Choice Vouchers. These rental assistance vouchers are also provided if children are prevented from returning to a family due to lack of safe and/or affordable housing. A waiting list is common and referrals are made through Tompkins County Department of Social Services.
Another possibility is the Tompkins Community Action’s HCVP Home Ownership Option. This offers people with an opportunity to purchase a home in the area. Assistance is offered through maintaining employment, individual saving plans and securing a low interest mortgage. Participants are able to use their share of housing costs toward their mortgage payments. Staff and specialists from TCAction provide participant support and help in obtaining a mortgage. This is also for people to use to repair poor credit and creating a savings plan to meet ownership goals.
Family Self-Sufficiency Program is a voluntary program open to Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher participants. It will provide clients with support, resources and networking opportunities for families to reach their goal of long term self-sufficiency. Some of the services include gaining access to community non-profit resources, free job-readiness skills and employment opportunities, and help with creating a personal savings plan for the five year period.
Transitional and Supportive Housing programs offered by the non-profit Tompkins Community Action help previously evicted and homeless families. Individuals are provided with access to two permanent housing sites and a transitional scattered site approach throughout Ithaca and Tompkins County. Supportive services focus on helping clients maintain employment, building life skills and identifying community resources, fiscal literacy and budgeting, and also GED attainment and secondary education.
The main location of the Tompkins Community Action assistance is 701 Spencer Road, Ithaca, NY 14850-9999, telephone: (607) 273-8816. There is another office at 309 Corn Street, Ithaca New York 14850, dial 607-216-0457.
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