The non-profit Treasure Coast Community Action Agency is part of the state of Florida and national network of non-profit organizations. The goal is to help low income families and the working poor overcome poverty and gain self-sufficiency. As part of this, the agency may be able to provide limited financial aid, referrals, and more. Resources are available across Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie County.
Using CSBG funds, there may be occasional direct Emergency Assistance for qualified low-income households. Any aid will be for those that are experiencing crisis situations, such as death of a spouse, the loss of a job, or absence from work due to illness, or other issues that lead to a short term financial hardship.
While resources are very limited in St. Lucie County and other areas, grants may be able to help with such necessities as prescriptions, rent and utility bill payments. There is also occasional, one-time help for security deposits, transportation, and/or food.
Another federal resource is the Emergency Shelter Program. This will offer both short-term and immediate assistance in Okeechobee, Martin and St. Lucie. Any financial help paid out is the form of temporary shelter to those in need, including individuals, seniors and families who are homeless. There may also be support people from the region that need a place to stay.
State and federal rent or mortgage help is from the Housing Division. The agency administers resources to help residents purchase a home and to rehabilitate existing units, and this is for low to moderate income families. Other services include foreclosure and eviction prevention and referrals to HUD agencies.
Self-sufficiency and case management from Treasure Coast Community Action Agency will help low-income individuals and families work their way out of poverty and into a state of stability, where they are able to thrive without relying on government assistance. Even if the families struggle has cycled through years or even generations, the community action agency will try to help break that cycle.
Once a client of Treasure Coast Community Action declares their desire for stability, the staff will work to support that, through the provision of knowledge, skills, and abilities that lead to self-sufficiency. Some specific services provided may include financial support. This can be free vouchers for obtaining food, public transit services or gasoline. There is also assistance with payments for security deposits, rent, mortgage, and/or utilities. Or talk to a case manager to learn how to get help with obtaining prescription medications along with referrals and other case management services.
Community Action of Treasure Coast will also work with parents or government resources such as LIHEAP to provide emergency assistance with utility payments too. In order to receive assistance from any local program in Okeechobee County are nearby towns, clients need to meet all qualifications. This can be for those aged 60 or older, have experienced a loss of income as a result of injury or illness, or have documented medical conditions and/or disabilities.
The state of Florida Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is available in all supported counties. As funding allows, LIHEAP provides households with assistance in paying for electric and gas bills in times of crisis. Benefit amounts are based on the national poverty guidelines. Priority is given to the elderly in the region; members who have disabilities; and/or children aged five and younger.
Rather than providing assistance in the form of funding, Weatherization performs minor, free energy-efficient repairs to the homes of low-income individuals and families in the area. The aim is to permanently reduce energy bills by actually conserving the amount of power used in the home or apartment. Some of Treasure Coast Community Action Agency energy conservation measures taken include the following:
The Veteran Services Division from community action is focused on people that have served our country and their families. Residents of Okeechobee, St. Lucie, and Martin County can get transportation to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, help in applying for benefits including disability or food stamps, and information on federal rules and regulations from Treasure Coast Community Action.
Employment resources, such as On-the-Job Training, provides knowledge and skills required to be successful in obtaining long term employment. Staff from the non-profit community action group will work very closely with each enrollee to identify employability skills and deficiencies, and then try to arrange part-time work experience the larger community. Case managers will also help with resume creation and seeking employment, with the goal of then obtaining permanent employment.
Education for children and youth is from Head Start. This is the region’s comprehensive preschool program for young children and their families. Based on the results of initial screenings and observation, each enrollee is given educational and recreational activities that are adapted to meet individual needs, with progress monitored on an on-going basis.
Other support services coordinated in the Treasure Coast include free health screenings, including medical, dental, links to any necessary follow up care by healthcare professionals and also vision tests. Nutritious meals and snacks are provided each day as part of Head Start.
Staff members and teachers are available to guide parents in identifying their own strengths, needs, and interests, so Head start is for the entire family. It also arranges for a wide array of activities geared for the entire family, as well as opportunities for parents to participate in various workshops. Lastly, parents can get referrals to St. Luce and Martin regional Family Assistance Programs, as well as to other non-profit community organizations, to ensure that the program provides a well-rounded set of services.
There are a few offices that residents can call upon, however the main center is at 437 N. 7th Street, Fort Pierce, Florida 34950. Call (772) 462-1777 for more information.
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