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Action for Boston Community Development assistance programs.

The entire Boston region, including Suffolk and Middlesex County, is supported by the Action for Boston Community Development, also known as ABCD. The non-profit agency is involved in dozens of different short term emergency and long term self-sufficiency programs. Thousands of residents get assistance every year with a number of needs.

Financial aid, including housing and energy bills

Heating bill help is from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The federal resource helps low-income residents of Boston, Brookline, and Newton, by providing heating bill payment assistance and grants. Many families use the services of this program each winter and they are also provided with help concerning the application process.

Repairs from ABCD - Action for Boston Community Development provides assistance to low-income Boston households in need. Supported is offered through the Heating System Repairs and Replacement program, also known as HEARTWAP. Free services of the program include heating systems tune-ups, repairs, replacements, and burner and system replacements.

Staff in Suffolk County will respond to emergency no-heat situations are also included in the service and such repairs are possible for homeowners and, in some cases, renters. Broken or inefficient boilers or furnaces and are replaced. In addition, tune ups are performed for both homeowners and renters during winter and summer seasons. The goal is ensure that eligible low-income families have energy and cost efficient heating systems that are fully functional.

Some neighborhood sites of Action for Boston Community Development offer the basics to the poor. This can be free emergency clothing assistance and furniture for low-income families with infants or young children. Other goods may be free food, diapers, and more. The assistance is also available to eligible clients who have recently moved into a new home. There are free furniture banks in Boston area for the low income as well.

Telephone Life Line Services are among various resources at the centers. This is free wireless phone application services are provided to eligible families by ABCD. The program, created by the federal government, offers one free cell phone and a limited number of voice minutes each month for one family. It is funded through the Universal Service Fund. The purpose of this program is keeping families connected, especially in case of an emergency. The application process is free, quick and easy and the assistance with completing and submitting an application is also provided.




Action for Boston Community Development will also help some very low income families (in general the homebound, disabled, or elderly) that can get free telephones using government grants and resources such as Lifeline. There may be wireless or landline phones, depending on the need as well as other factors. More details on free government landline phone programs.

Christmas Gifts are a focus during each holiday season. The non-profit Action for Boston Community Development organizes a Toy Drive to provide income qualified families and the elderly with gifts for their children. Even gift cards to purchase toys and clothing items are distributed to eligible clients. This service is supported by many local businesses, churches and other organizations.

In a partnership with the utility company NSTAR, the community action agency delivers the Conservation Action Program (NCAP). This electrical appliance audit program is designed to help struggling households reduce their electric bill. High usage and a savings plan are determined through the appliances assessment. Clients of NCAP will receive energy efficient light bulbs and water conservation materials. Replacement of old refrigerator or freezer is also possible in some cases.

HCA, or the Housing Court Advocacy program is part of the services available. The Housing and Homelessness Prevention Department's provide resources that runs it. Eligible households living in Boston are entitled to use the services that will help them prevent eviction, help people maintain their tenancy, and understand their tenant’s rights and responsibilities.

The HCA program staff advocates for tenants before and during court proceedings in order to educate them on their rights and responsibilities. It is a form of legal aid to ensure their laws are observed in the courtroom and to support them during mediation with a landlord. Additionally, they provide clients with external resources to help maintain their tenancy, including referrals to rental assistance in Middlesex County and Boston.

Stabilization Program provides an 18-month service of dedicated case management to eligible clients who have transferred from shelter living to permanent housing. The program is administrated by ABCD's Housing and Homelessness Prevention Department.





Counseling and resources are available in order to prevent falling back into homelessness during the transition of families from the shelter system. This program gives families ongoing support services to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

Eligible clients receive assistance customized to their needs so they can maintain their tenancy by helping with educational goals and classes for job skills development. As well as offering money management.

ABCD provides emergency financial assistance and counseling services to Boston homeowners facing foreclosure via the Mattapan Family Service Center. Individualized credit counseling services are attainable for qualified clients, as well as education on financial management skills related to monthly budgeting, credit card interest analysis, and saving techniques.

The goal of the program is on reducing foreclosure rates through a various number of prevention, mortgage resources and stabilization services. Financial and housing related education is provided through foreclosure prevention workshops so the families in risk of losing their homes could keep their residence. In addition, workshops on foreclosure prevention and legal rights, with following topics are also available Budgeting, Mortgages, and how to avoid fraud and predatory loans.

Low-income, uninsured clients and their families are entitled to the services of the MassHealth insurance application. The first step for applying for the program is completing and submitting the MassHealth application at a Suffolk or Middlesex County center. Eligibility will be determined by ABCD staff and many income verification components are considered. Next, a follow-up support is provided to ensure that all eligible applicants obtain their needed health insurance and medical needs.

MassHealth is the state’s version of Medicaid and CHIP, which is free health care for the poor/low income as well as assistance for children. There are both hospitals as well as free community clinics across Massachusetts as well as Middlesex and Suffolk County. They offer free or low cost (sliding fee) health or dental care, including immunizations, dental cleanings, medications and many other services. Find locations of free community clinics in Massachusetts.

In a partnership with the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) as well as the Department of Housing and Community Development, Action for Boston Community Development offers Job development services to eligible Boston residents. All applicants need to be enrolled in the HomeBASE Rental Assistance in order to be eligible for this program.

The aim is to help prevent clients from returning to shelter or becoming homeless. Another objective is helping them gain employable skills for finding and maintaining employment.  Some of the services provided by the HomeBASE Self-Sufficiency Program are Career Readiness Skills; Job Skills Training Program Enrollments; Resume Assistance; Cover Letter Assistance; Career Action Plan Development; information on Career and Job Fairs; Counseling; Job Search Assistance; Interview Skills; and feedback on Job Placement.

Shelter, information on rent help, and more is from the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Department. The location provides shelter housing units to homeless families. Referral from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is required in order to apply for this assistance.

Eligible clients for the services of this Boston program are two-parent families, single moms, single fathers raising children, larger families, and those with special needs. Once the eligibility is determined, the client receives assistance from ABCD staff in adjusting to their shelter placement. It will ideally help families achieve self-sufficiency by obtaining permanent and affordable housing.

Weatherization Assistance Program from Action for Boston Community Development provides help to low-income, senior, and disabled households with their energy bills. They can save money on their heating costs through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The goal of the program is to lower energy bills for consumers and protect the environment. This program helps qualified clients to reduce heating expenses by as much as 25% per year. The improvement assistance of $4,500 or in some cases even more is available to households who use or electric heat and all the services are free. Those with gas heat may receive conservation measures totaling $4,500.





Food and holiday resources

Emergency food pantry services are available to eligible seniors and local needy and unemployed families throughout various location of ABCD. Participation in this program requires a referral through the Project Bread Food Source Referral Hotline. Please call: 1-800-645-8333.

Government benefits are available too. As one example, Action for Boston Community Development provides free “food stamp” application services to applicants. This benefit is also called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.

After completing and submitting a food stamp application with a case managers, qualified clients also receive help concerning application documentation, follow-up, and advocacy. These services aim to resolve any enrollment problems and ensure that eligible clients receive this critical benefit. A referral to other food services including pantries is available.

Holiday Meal program serves individuals, the elderly and families by providing them with food and grcoery supplies during holidays. Food baskets, turkeys, and other items are distributed to people so that they can cook and have a decent holiday meal in their home. These numerous Holiday Meal services are usually available during the Thanksgiving season and in December.

ABCD self-sufficiency programs

Head Start and Children's Services provides help to children from low income families. Their parents and their families can also get support through the largest early childhood education program in Boston or the nation. Action for Boston Community Development has proven their expertise in the field of overall childhood development, which focuses on preparing young children and infants for school and even beyond.

Head Start is also working to develop each child's social and learning skills through various efficient services like individualized curriculum, high quality education, case management, free meal plans, and numerous mental health services. Services and support for disabled children is also available, and is in fact a priority. Health screening like dental, vision testing and hearing are additional services of this program.

Children can also benefit from Early Head Start. This serves and is available to eligible pregnant women, toddlers and infants. Young children are provided with care and education in their earliest years. The main objective of the Early Head Start program is preparing children for preschool and teaching new parents skills they need to be good caregivers. This is offered through services including snacks and meal plans, high quality education, individualized curriculum, case management, and mental health services.

A key ABCD partner is Child Care Choices of Boston (CCCB). The non-profit is the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for the city of Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Cambridge, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop. This program provides information on quality child care to working poor families from across the region.

It also offers important training services and other information for early day care providers. After all, affordable child care is provided to eligible parents so they can continue to work or attend school. The resource ensures that providers offer culturally appropriate, highly accessible, and high-quality services.

Over 5.000 vouchers are provided by the CCCB to qualified low-income families in order to help them afford child care expenses on their own. For those that qualify for aid, eligible families receive subsidized care vouchers and providers are paid directly by CCCB.

Action for Boston Community Development offers computer labs in their service territory that allow clients to access and use computers for free. Clients can search for jobs, work on cover letters and resumes, pay their bills, check email, search for services, do homework and conduct research, and more.







Computer workshops are also available at some Action for Boston Community Development’s sites and the focus is on teaching a range of basic and more advanced skills. The services included in these trainings are introduction to Windows, the fundamentals of Microsoft Excel and Word and other popular programs, internet and e-mail usage, etc. The primary goal is learning necessary skills crucial to entering the work force and meeting other life needs.

Immigrants and adults can look into English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs. They were created to serve non-English speakers by giving them an opportunity to learn or improve their English language skills related to speaking, reading, and writing.

Seniors in Boston Massachusetts can contact the agency. Additional resources and services are provided to low-income seniors by Action for Boston Community Development's neighborhood sites. These programs range from home delivered meals, Senior Centers, Bag food programs, recreational activities and trips, free health and nutrition workshops, and more. Locations of the neighborhood sites are Allston-Brighton NOC, North End/West End NSC, East Boston APAC, Elm Hill FSC, SNAP/South End NSC, JFK FSC, Mattapan FSC, Parker Hill Fenway NSC. Or find other financial help for Massachusetts elderly households.

Both Middlesex and Suffolk County families can turn to Action for Boston Community Development provides for ongoing case management services. They can help low-income individuals and families. The main objective of the program is helping applicants achieve self-sufficiency. Social workers partner with families over time to help them access resources and benefits. These services can help parents find childcare, enroll in a vocational training program, obtain health insurance, etc.

Newcomers can look into Immigration and Citizenship resources. They are for low-income families and individuals in the counties served. Services include consultation and advocacy services, assistance with immigration and citizenship applications, renewals, fee-waivers and petitions, as well as special visa assistance and related workshops.

Financial Futures Initiative of the ABCD coordinates the VITA program, also known as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Low-income individuals, the elderly and families are eligible candidates for the program and they utilize the taxes prepared by volunteers. Trained and IRS-certified volunteers also maximize access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). With their help, clients will find tax credits worth hundreds of dollars that many may not have known they are even eligible for.

The primary goal of the Financial Literacy Workshops is to provide a better understanding of asset management to eligible clients. Ensuring a more secure financial future is the benefit of these classes. Six weeks’ financial Literacy education from non-profit credit counselors covers the following topics: savings, spending plans, basic banking, investing, credit, identity theft and Needs versus Wants.

Staff from ABCD, also well as non-profit partners in Boston, focus on this skill. The city of Boston is a financial powerhouse in the US. Understanding stocks, bonds, retirement plans, investing and these skills are critical for long term financial stability. Learn more, and get financial literacy help.

Get help in applying for and understanding disability benefits. Funded by the US government, the Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) program provides services to people with certain disabilities. Eligible for the government aid are low-income elderly citizens (65 or older), blind clients and those with other disabilities. This program represents the only form of income for many clients who use the services of the Action for Boston Community Development.

Contact information for ABCD assistance programs

The main phone number for Action for Boston Community Development is (617) 348-6000. Locations and centers are.

565 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135.
554 Columbus Avenue Boston MA 02118
87 Tyler St Boston, MA 02111.
30 Bickford Street, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130
110 Claybourne Street, Dorchester, MA 02124
21 Meridian Street East Boston MA 02128
19 Corinth Street Roslindale, Massachusetts 02131
22 Elm Hill Avenue Roxbury Massachusetts 02121
30 Bickford Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
23A Moulton Street Charlestown, MA 02129
535 River Street Mattapan MA 02126
1 Michelangelo Street Boston Massachusetts 02113
714 Parker Street, Roxbury, MA 02120
424 West Broadway St South Boston MA 02127

By Jon McNamara

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