Several counties are supported by the Two Rivers Regional Council. The non-profit community action agency provides assistance to low income families, with a focus on housing needs, food, and shelter. So this means that grants or loans may be issued for expenses such as rent, energy bills, or food costs.
Case managers also work with clients to offer long term-self-sufficiency, and that may be job training and education. The resources offered by TRRC are for the counties of Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Pike and Kendall Counties in Illinois.
Rent, housing, and even food assistance is offered as part of the federal government funded Emergency Food and Shelter program. This government resource offers low income families with free food and groceries and help for housing needs, to either prevent evictions or rehouse families. It is available for all income-eligible applicants within counties such as Cumberland and Jasper as well as other towns.
This grant program is available all year. While funds are offered, they will be limited. Money for this rent, energy bill and nutrition service is provided on an annual basis by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. It is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as the United Way Organization.
Emergency/Crisis Financial Assistance is available to income-eligible applicants who are behind on their rent or that are currently homeless. Funds, as well as legal advice, is offered to those that have been or are in danger of being evicted from their homes due to non-payment of their monthly rent. Whenever possible, cash is issued by Two Rivers Regional Council. However in some cases a loan may be issued. In either case, these funds can be used to pay at most one month of current rent. In limited cases a security deposit may be paid. Applicant must reside in the territory of DeKalb, Grundy, or nearby counties. They need to have also have received an eviction notice from their landlord.
Other financial aid is offered too. Funds can also be used for water bills or reconnection fees. Vouchers can be issued to help low income families obtain prescription medications on an emergency basis. Applications are taken by the community action agency year-round, while funds remain available.
To be eligible for Supportive Housing Services, applicants must be homeless, with no resources available to them. Criteria for being designated as homeless include when the applicant is living on the street, in their car, or they are moving from an emergency shelter to a new home. Or they may be within seven days of formal court-ordered eviction and/or is fleeing domestic violence. Services and benefits from these various support services may include first month’s rent, case management, utility bill assistance and necessary transportation.
Case managers can help clients by offering assistance with Permanent Housing. For this program, applicants must be homeless and have a disability as well. Assistance available from TRRC includes, but are not limited to, rental assistance up to HUD Fair Market Rent Allowance and case management. Also get help with locating a low income apartment in the region, such as the counties of Jasper or Lawrence County. Program guidelines allow participants to continue in the program for two years; however, continuation of the program itself depends on annual renewal of funding from the state and federal government.
Another service, Eviction Prevention services and mediation, is for individuals that demonstrate a temporary economic crisis that is beyond a household's control. Evidence of at least one or more of the following conditions must be presented. They include Medical Disability or Emergency, Loss of Employment, substantial Change in Household Composition, Displacement by a Government, Loss or Delay of Some Form of Public Benefit, or maybe Illegal Action by a Landlord.
ERBA is also a non-profit HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency, and provides clients with the following services. They may access Home Buyer Education, Emergency Rental Assistance, Pre-Purchase Counseling, Mortgage Delinquency, and Foreclosure Prevention.
Utility and heating bill help is from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The goal of this was to assist low-income citizens by offsetting the increasing cost of home energy through direct financial assistance. Other services from the non-profit Two Rivers Regional Council include free energy counseling, outreach, and education. According to government funding availability, ERBA offers three types of LIHEAP assistance to low income residents.
The Home Weatherization Program in Illinois is designed to aid income-eligible residents by making their homes or maybe even rental units more energy efficient, thereby reducing their total energy costs and improving living conditions.
This is done by many actions. It can include adding sidewall, attic and floor insulation; proper venting for attic and crawl spaces; additional weather-stripping; broken glass or window replacement; storm windows; caulking, water heater jackets; and window replacement, as approved by the Illinois Home Energy Audit.
To be eligible for this federally funded program, applicants to TRRC are required to show proof of income and homeownership for the past 12 months. Federal government funding for this program is supplied by the Department of Health & Human Services as well as the Department of Energy. Assistance is administrated by the Healthcare and Family Services Office of Energy Assistance.
ERBA also offers qualified low income and working poor households with furnace repair and/or replacement. In some cases, an air conditioner may be fixed by Two Rivers Regional Council if the household member is elderly or ill. Safety equipment such as smoke detectors and repairs made where necessary. In extreme cases, water heaters may be replaced when there is a safety hazard. Free safety measures, such as carbon monoxide detectors is also available. In addition, ventilation is also checked on all gas combustion appliances, with any issues found will be fixed.
The Senior Citizens Nutrition Program provides income qualified elderly residents with free nutritionally balanced meals on a donation basis to people who are 60 years of age and over as well as their spouses. People younger than 60 may eat at the center for the cost of the meal.
This is a year round assistance program offered by Two Rivers Regional Council in partnership with churches and other charities. There are no income guidelines and no restrictions beyond the age limit. Meals are served on site, and carry-outs are welcome. Homebound senior citizens can have meals delivered to their homes.
In addition to a meal, educational, informational, and social activities are available to the seniors as well as instruction on proper nutrition. This program is partially funded by the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA), senior centers, the IL Agency on Aging (AOA), and contributions by participants. The program offers onsite services and home-delivered meal services in Jasper, Crawford and Richland counties.
Funded by the Illinois Department on Aging, the Title IIIB Program provides Senior Social Services. The program offers referrals, information and assistance in regard to many programs. Examples of the resources are below.
Enroll into Circuit Breaker, Insurance and Medicare Assistance, VITA (Income Tax Assistance), Pharmaceutical Assistance, Legal Aid for Seniors, and Rules of the Road. Transportation is available for those aged 60-plus, anywhere inside the city limits. ERBA has wheelchair lift vans available.
Additionally, Title IIID provides education services, hearing aids; and the distribution of health equipment, on an as-needed basis. Other support in counties such as Jasper or Crawford include free health screenings, weekly and monthly blood pressure clinics, and flu shots are accessible through the county nurse. Outreach services from the non-profit and its volunteers include home visits, which are made to assess client’s needs and to encourage participation in the available services. Telephone reassurance provides phone calls to seniors to check for wellness and offer emotional support.
The Family Functioning Development Program was designed to help income-eligible individuals in meeting goals and gaining stability. They can get help in attaining self-sufficiency, employment and ideally a better quality of life. ERBA’s Family and Community Development Specialists provide case management services and guidance. The staff will also work closely with individuals in achieving and setting goals.
Job skills can be developed at the ERL - Employment Resource Lab. This was designed to help income eligible individuals gain computer skills and improve their chances in the competitive job market. Participants will need attend basic computer classes, practice on interviews, learn how to write resumes, and gain job interviewing skills. There is no cost to use these assistance programs for eligible participants.
With the STEP Program, eligible persons can receive assistance with paying for needs such as tuition, testing, supplies and other costs related to the completion of successful training and job placement. Participants must meet CSBG income guidelines, obtain employment, provide all required documentation, and of course complete college training.
Scholarships from CSBG are available to income-eligible individuals who will be attending an approved school in Illinois. This can be an Illinois university, college or community college. Students must have at least a C grade point average and be enrolled as a full time student, with at minimum 10+ credit hours or more.
The CSBG free School Supply Program is offered to income-eligible students in grades K-12. Qualifying, low income students from struggling families will receive snacks, uniforms, or even backpacks filled with school supplies that are required by their teachers.
Another resource is Head Start. This is a free Child Development Program that provides comprehensive educational and health services to preschool children (three to five years old) of primarily low-income families, including those with a disability.
Children receive free nutritious meals, including breakfast and snacks. ERBA Head Start also offers a strong Parental Involvement Program and access to social services to parents. Parents are eligible to receive cash incentives for completing college classes, job training, or their GED.
Two Rivers Regional Council has several offices in the area. The main sites are as follows.
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