Alabama Council on Human Relations assistance programs.

There are some basic needs that can be met by the Alabama Council on Human Relations, however the focus is on self-sufficiency. Case managers from the Lee County non-profit organization focus on helping the poor and less fortunate regain stability in the long term.

Some of the aid that may be available includes applications for federal government programs such as LIHEAP and weatherization. Other support includes assistance for children such as Head Start or Day Care. Additional employment assistance is also organized by ACHR specialists.

Utility assistance, food, housing and energy conservation programs

Get help with paying utility bills, including cooling and heating from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. As resources allow, it offers limited financial assistance to Lee County residents who have a crisis caused by an inability to pay their utility bills.

Families who meet the government designated income requirements may receive a grant (or in some cases a credit on their account) paid directly to the utility company. They also receive free energy counseling to help lower future energy bills.

The Centsable Energy Program is another option that offers energy counseling for low-income participants so that they can learn to reduce their monthly power bills and also be more energy efficient. The statewide Centsable Energy Program also provides services to supplement LIHEAP grants.

The Alabama Council on Human Relations Weatherization Program evaluates homes that qualify for improvements. Depending on available funds, staff coordinate provision of essential additional insulation, free caulking and other energy efficient services. The program aims to reduce the energy consumption of a home, condo or mobile home. It can help them save money, and is for residences owned by low-income individuals in Lee County.

Federal funds and grants for these programs are limited and are not available throughout the year. Each of the energy programs has income and other qualifications mandated by the federal and state of Alabama guidelines.




Applicants who apply for services through each of these programs need to make an appointment with a case manager from the ACHR non-profit organization. They need to meet income and other requirements and provide documentation that is required by case managers for that program in question.

Housing programs from Council on Human Relations

The  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved ACHR as a regional non-profit Housing Counseling Agency. A number of landlord and homeowner programs are available. Staff provides individual counseling sessions by appointment at offices located at the ACHR facilities in Opelika and Auburn Alabama.

Services are offered to potential home buyers, renters, and current property owners to assist in improving their living conditions. They can also get information on possible mortgage and rent assistance programs, including loans. Clients can learn to meet the responsibilities of home ownership and tenancy.

The Council on Human Relations Housing Counselors provides families and individuals with information about safe, affordable housing. Staff assists in resolving all housing-related problems. This includes fair housing, budgeting, landlord mediation, rent delinquency and mortgage default areas amongst others.

ACHR provides extensive housing counseling to clients. This includes assistance all matters that contribute to or compound housing problems including budgeting and money management skills and credit repair. Or get information on resources for health and nutrition, parenting, child care, literacy and social skills.

The Housing Counselor can help clients access all of the other ACHR services in Lee County as well. This includes Early Head Start, extended day child care, Head Start, parenting classes, WIC, energy programs, and affordable housing.

Clients can get referrals to a wide range of external community sources such as the Lee County Alabama health department, banking services, various educational services, mortgage programs, nearby church groups, Habitat for Humanity, battered women’s shelters, etc.





Food assistance

The Alabama Coalition Against Hunger (ACAH) aims to end hunger by providing all Alabama residents, as a matter of right, guaranteed access to nutritious free groceries and foods.

The agency works to expand access to government programs and solutions, such as SNAP food stamps or free meals for children. They are also involved in helping people apply for the School Breakfast programs and expanding WIC in Lee County.

This is an ongoing effort to inform low-income families about programs such as Medicaid, WIC, and SNAP, which can help them meet their nutritional and medical needs.

Currently ACAH's principal focus is community gardening, which is an innovate solution. Acting as garden developer, trainer, advocate and educator, ACAH helps in the development of both family and community gardens of varying size. These help families provide for themselves.

Job training from Alabama Council on Human Relations

For those that want to work in child care, the Intern Program is an option. The job training type program includes on-site training in child development, supervised, paid work experience with pre-school children, and the HighScope Curriculum Approach. Staff also offer clients with professional development counseling.

In order to qualify for the intern program, applicants must have college course work in child development. Or if they do not meet that need/requirement, then they need to be  either be enrolled in or be willing to enroll in college courses to attain certification in child development or a related field.

The main goal of the Intern/Trainee Program is offering employability skills to Lee County families. The Intern/Trainees can work part or full-time as part of the program. If they are interested, parents of Head Start and Early Head Start children are given first priority for training. Only applicants who have a high school diploma or GED qualify for the Intern/Trainee program.

Lee County child assistance

The Lee County Head Start program is a comprehensive, quality resource that is designed to prepare children ages 3-5 for entry into a public school. The readiness classrooms are located at the multiple locations. These include the Darden Center in Opelika, Boykin Community Center in Auburn, and the Marian Wright Edelman Center in rural Russell County Alabama. Head Start’s income guideline and thresholds can be adjusted for children with special needs.

The ACHR-CDP has also partnered with Lee County Schools to provide several classrooms in schools that serve disabled children who have special needs along with typically developing children. In addition, a second component is the home-based model. This is available to children and families in both Lee and nearby Russell County.

The program allows and encourages each income qualified child to learn at his/her own pace. It also offers linkage to free medical, vision and dental care. There is also on-site support for children with special needs such as speech/language and developmental delay. Family Services Workers from Council on Human Relations assist families in setting goals and finding necessary social services as well as in times of crisis.

Another component of  the ACHR Child Development Program is Early Head Start. The services are for infants, pregnant women and toddlers and are based at Edelman and Darden Centers. ACHR's EHS program offers a unique combination of center-based and home-based models.




The center-based model provides assistance to mothers who are working, in training or in school. The home-based model provides assistance to moms from the region who are at home with their children. It can also help those who have alternate care arrangements for their babies and toddlers.

Home Visitors can stop by a visit participants in their homes and also works with new teen mothers and pregnant teens in the schools in Lee Russell Counties.

Child Care is from the wraparound program. It offers low-cost day care to children at either the Darden Center in Opelika and Marian Wright Edelman Center in rural Russell County. This program aims to assist parents who need to pay for childcare from during their work period and/or during the summer and winter holiday period. If needed, free transportation can be provided by ACHR to and from school for the school-aged children who attend schools in Opelika.

For more information on these or other resources, dial  334-821-8336 to reach the Alabama Council on Human Relations. Or their office is at 319 West Glenn Avenue.

By Jon McNamara

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