Financial assistance from Area Community Services Employment and Training.

The local community action agency of Kent County Michigan is the non-profit Area Community Services Employment and Training, or ACSET. The organization helps low income and poor families, with a focus on seniors, the disabled, unemployed and families with young children. Another key condition is that the applicant needs to be willing and able to work towards self-sufficiency and exiting poverty.

A number of social services and emergency assistance is coordinated by ACSET. While some short term crisis aid is available, as noted the key objective is self-sufficiency. Get information and referrals to bill paying programs, job training, and other government benefits.

Energy bill assistance and conservation measures

Weatherization will help the working poor and low-income households in both controlling and reducing their energy costs. The focus is on the elderly, disabled, and families with young children. It addresses expenditures that are required for paying cooling or heating bills and it will make their homes much more energy efficient. The services of the weatherization program include furnace tune ups, free insulation of attics and walls, window glaze, health and safety checks, and air sealing.

The eligibility required to qualify for the federal Weatherization Assistance Program is that the families should be residents of the greater Kent County or Grand Rapids area. They can be owners or renters. Their annual income has to also meet poverty guidelines in place by the state.

Low income energy bill assistance, or LIHEAP or the Michigan Home Heating Credit, is also processed by Area Community Services Employment and Training. There are federal government grants to pay heating and winter utility bills. It is an income based program. Families in poverty, the elderly, disabled, and single mothers or fathers get priority. More on LIHEAP in Michigan.





Food from ACSET programs

USDA food from TEFAP Emergency Food Assistance is for all poor and income qualified households in Kent County. The food and groceries are distributed every quarterly through network sites. Food items may include meats, canned or frozen meat, vegetables, cereal, dry milk powder, peanut butter and vegetable oil.

Area Community Services Employment and Training Commodity Supplemental Food Program can improve the health of children and senior citizens who are at least sixty years of age. The federal program helps with providing supplemental meals and groceries.

Applicants can get nutritious commodity foods that are approved by the USDA. The Kent County households that qualify for this program receive a distribution of food products on a monthly basis. What may be offered for distribution by ACSET may include items like cheese, breads, vegetables, canned meat, fruits, cereals, trains and juices.





Assistance for immigrants and senior citizens

Immigrants and Latin American residents can get access to programs. This will be free meals which are provided either directly at home or in a congregate setting. The meals are served, for a low cost, to senior citizens and they are of Latin American cuisine. Transportation services are also arranged by the community action agency to the congregation site. Other eligible home bound senior citizens can also arrange to have the meals delivered to their houses. People who are above sixty years of age, their spouses, and those residing in Kent County can qualify for this program.

Help for seniors includes outreach, information, referrals and follow-up to connect the senior citizens with special needs to all the available resources. The main objective of these various resources is to keep the elderly people independent in their own homes. Eligibility criteria is to be above sixty years of age and they have to be residents of Grand Rapids area.

Financial aid and transportation from Area Community Services

Financial and Emergency Assistance Program is for the poor, in particular migrant farmworkers. Emergency services from ACSET include free food, gasoline, rent help, personal belongings, work uniforms and utilities.

They also help with job training and employment needs. The undereducated, or GED only or immigrants, can use the community action agency to find employment in the Grand Rapids area. All sorts of opportunities may be offered, including job training programs for free.

Health care programs from Michigan Enrols provides education, guidance and enrollment outreach of its clients into health care programs which are managed by it. Certified counselors train new clients on available health plans and help them to enroll into new medical programs. Or they can get help in changing  plan when required.

There is also a wide range of medical and dental care for the uninsured. ACSET has navigators and counselors who direct families to these resources. The goal is to ensure affordable access to medications, check ups, immunizations, and other care. Find all the ways for uninsured to get healthcare.

Transportation assistance is available for elderly citizens who reside in the Kent County Michigan. It is to help them towards their grocery shopping, socialization, and medical appointments. This is done through the KCSM Ride Link and the ITP (Inter-urban Transit).





Free Tax Assistance Programs (VITA) act as an initiative to help and increase the number of low-income families who apply for the federal government Earned Income Tax Credit. They help in the provision of free income tax guidance. This will include planning and filing for people who are in the low-income category in Kent County during the income tax filing season. The eligibility criterion is that people have to have annual income has to be at or below 125% of the federal poverty guideline and also be residents of Kent County Michigan.

Applying for help at Kent County Community Action Agency

Many other social services are offered as well. For more information, call ACSET - Area Community Services Employment and Training. The office is at 1550 Leonard Street N.E., Suite 1, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505, call (616) 336-4100.

By Jon McNamara

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