Ashtabula County Community Action Agency assistance programs.

Part of the nationwide network of non-profits, the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency can help low income families and those facing poverty. There is also help for seniors, the unemployed and disabled. A wide range of services, including emergency financial aid, is available in the region. The community action agency supports Ashtabula, Lake, and Geauga Counties in Ohio.

Funds from ACCAA for rent and housing needs

Rent help and homeless assistance is part of the New Hope Supportive Housing Program. The non-profit Community Action has a homeless assistance program that can help participants in obtaining housing. Or there may be financial aid, including loans or direct rent help, to help people remain in the same housing by the completion of the service.

The resources represent an alternative to the current emergency shelter system and/or transitional housing in Ohio. It is for those experiencing homelessness. The focus is on assisting by moving families directly into permanent housing and providing individualized supportive services to assist with the transition.

The main priority for low income families and individuals experiencing homelessness is that they secure and find a place or apartment to call home in the region, including Lake or Ashtabula. The unit selected needs to be affordable. After a client is secure in their own housing it is easier to begin assessing what other needs they may have and set goals to become self-sufficient.

The ACCAA New Hope Supportive Housing Program is a homelessness prevention service. Meaning that a focus is on assisting someone to get back on their feet and move them into a new, affordable and safe home.

The New Hope Supportive Housing program can also provide emergency rental as well as security deposit assistance and supportive services.  All participants are expected to pay 30% of their total income towards each month’s rent payment. Along with these services are referrals to other resources or benefits in counties such as Ashtabula or Lake. Case managers can help with planning to get stable housing, pay a security deposit and access other supportive services.




EFSP – Emergency Food and Shelter can help residents of Ashtabula as well as Geauga County who need help paying their utilities or rent. The not for profit Ashtabula County Community Action Agency operates a program which has been funded by FEMA, a government agency.

The goal is to provide utility aid and housing to area residents. When funding is available, this program is to help with payments for regulated gas and electric services, partial bulk fuel payments, and maybe even up to a one month assistance with water/sewer bills. Other needs such as rent and free food are offered.

Many times a copay is necessary from the customer to pay the entire bill or payment to the landlord. In addition, applicants must have exhausted all other resources such as WCP, Salvation Army resources, SCP and HEAP before they can apply for EFSP.

Find free meals and food from Ashtabula Community Action

Congregate Meals is a service that is meant for fairly mobile senior citizens. It provides a low cost, hot, nutritious meal served for lunch. In addition to that, companionship and socialization is just as important as the nutrition of the meal. So to that end, program meal sites allow seniors to interact with peers while they eat.

Most of the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency Congregate Meal sites are located in community centers or agency on aging locations that cater to the elderly, so there are many different activities for participants to get involved in around eating the meal. Feeding and meal site locations:

Ashtabula Senior Center, 4632 Main Avenue, Ashtabula, Ohio
Jefferson Community Center, 27 East Jefferson Street, Jefferson, Ohio
Conneaut Human Resource Center, 327 Mill Street, Conneaut, Ohio
Geneva Methodist Church, 89 South Broadway, Geneva, Ohio

The federal government Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is known as WIC. It is a nutrition as well as education program that has been funded by the government. It in funded every year from government grants.

WIC is a program that provides nutritious foods that promote good health for pregnant women, infants and children up to the age of 5. It is for the poor as well as those with a health or nutrition risk. Vouchers are issued by the community action agency to purchase food items from an authorized list of stores in Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga County.

Meals on Wheels from Ashtabula County Community Action Agency provides free food for those who, due to poor health, whether mental or physical, cannot obtain or prepare nutritious meals for themselves. As part of this process, the individual needs of each participant are assessed, and with consideration given to support that is available from neighbors, family or friends. When help is not available through these other sources, the local community action agency is there to care for these homebound and elderly in the region. The Meal delivery is coordinated by ACCAA through such assistance programs to those such persons helps them to remain in their homes in spite of being ill or elderly.

Ohio Benefit Bank offers referral and information. It is program that is available to Ohio residents, including those in Lake and Ashtabula, who are in need of help and do not know where to obtain needed services.

This service is there to assist in explaining and assisting those who may need help with the application process for government benefits such as food stamps or low income housing. It can also help those who simply do not know what programs they may be eligible for.

Many Ohio residents are being forced to make tough choices between paying rent, buying medications or food. Too many families struggle with meeting basic needs because they do not know about services or financial aid for which they may be eligible. The Ohio Benefit Bank program as well as Ashtabula County Community Action Agency can help make this less confusing and get people referred to the services that they need.

Utility and heating bill programs

Energy bill assistance from the Community Action of Ashtabula County is offered in several forms. While all of the aid is limited, the non-profit agency has a variety of resources that make up the Energy Assistance Program.

Low income utility and heating bill assistance is there to provide the residents of Ashtabula County and other regions assistance in paying their utility bills. The financial aid and grants that are available is mainly for bulk fuel, oil, natural gas or electricity. But sometimes assistance may be used for paying for other types of service.

The grant from the Energy Program may either be in the form of a payment toward a current utility bill or a past expenses. Case managers from ACCAA can also help with setting up a plan that allows partial payments to be paid each month based on the total household income. In order to be eligible for this program, the criteria is based on the total household income.

The main mission of the Energy Assistance Program from Ashtabula County Community Action Agency is to secure help for the participant in the form of continued utility service for the next 30 days. This can be heating service during the winter or cooling in the summer. Some of the other options available are federal government HEAP, Winter Crisis Program, the Ohio PIPP Plus, EFSP (when grants are available), Summer Crisis Program and direct Utility Company Fuel Funds.

HEAP is a form of heating bill assistance. Applications are offered at the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency and they are made available for those who need help paying their utility bills. This is a federal government funded program operated by the Ohio Department of Development and community action agencies. It was created to assist eligible low-income Ohio residents make the payments on their home heating.





For those that qualify, HEAP, makes a one-time payment. There is financial aid offered for most PUCO regulated utility customers based on their usage for the current winter heating season or as a credit to a bulk fuel company for the purchase of heating oil, kerosene, propane, wood or coal.

The HEAP Winter Crisis Program (WCP) is an emergency aid. It was established by Ashtabula County Community Action Agency, the state of Ohio and the federal government to provide onetime payment per heating season. The grants can help those low-income households that may have a disconnection notice, had their service shut off, have 1/4 or less of the fuel capacity of their heating tank, or need new utility service.

The Summer Crisis Program is a special part of HEAP. It may be able to provide summer cooling aid for low income seniors, the disabled and for Ohio residents with a qualifying medical condition. It is limited in scope. This program from ACAA provides a one-time grant payment for either an electric bill payment or an Air Conditioning Unit, as funding allows.

Utility Company Fuels Funds is another type of minor energy bill assistance program. Funding and cash grants for this program is based on need, and has strict requirements for eligibility.  Utility Company Fuel Funds, or short term loans, may not always be available.

Weatherization / HWAP provides services and help with saving money. This resource helps participants by modifying or enhancing their homes to be more energy efficient. This federal government program was created to improve energy efficiency, add conservation measures, reduce energy usage and make sure homes are safe for income eligible individuals.

Those residents from the area that qualify may receive general maintenance of heating system, an on-site inspection and energy audit, energy conservation training as well as safety test of heating devices, such as furnaces or water heaters. Additional aid from weatherization may include insulation of attic, repair or replacement of furnaces, air sealing which may include window and door repair, caulking and door seals, sidewalls, floor, or other changes as found from the audit. All weatherization services are provided for free from Ashtabula County Community Action Agency for eligible homeowners, and for renters with participation from landlords.

Minor Home Modification and Repair has been provided by the Area Agency on Aging 11. It can help residents in Ashtabula County age 60 and older with making and paying for home repairs. Another benefit is on the added accessibility as well as other changes to the home. These modifications allow them the ability to remain safe in their homes, and make it easier mobility around the home. Services will not be denied by the non-profit community action agency based on the ability to pay. It is focused on seniors, the disabled, and poor. A key partner is the United Way of Ashtabula County.

Head Start services

Both the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs are free to low income qualified residents. They are comprehensive child and family development services coordinated by ACCAA which ready children for school. These programs are available to income eligible households in residing in Ashtabula, Lake, and other counties. Head Start also offers services to families with children between the ages of 3-5 years old. The following options are available to those who participate, such as home or school visits.

There are Head Start classrooms at the following locations:
Main Avenue, Ashtabula
Rock Creek Elementary School, Rock Creek
Michigan Elementary School, Ashtabula
Pymatuning Valley Elementary School, Andover
Good Shepard Church, Conneaut
Cork Elementary School, Geneva

As mentioned, the community action agency supports multiple counties in the region. The main address is 2009 W Prospect Road, Ashtabula, Ohio 44004, Telephone: (440) 997-1721.


By Jon McNamara

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