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Financial and emergency assistance in rural communities.

What is sadly ironic is that many rural communities have had their economies devastated over the last few decades. Many towns and villages have lost their major employers, communities are hit by substance abuse, and many face other challenges. There is assistance out there for rural communities, but it may just be a little harder to find.

Transportation is often a barrier. It is often the case that someone will need to drive to an agency, and it may be relatively far. The problem is that sometimes the person in crisis may not even have enough money for a tank of gasoline, or maybe they even lack transportation or their car broke. Sometimes it may be an elderly person in a rural area who needs help, but they no longer drive. There are also no buss lines, limited taxis or Uber services, etc.

Therefore access to transportation for getting to a charity or non-profit in a rural community can be a barrier. Families may need to ask a friend or family member to drive to a center. Or ride a bike or walk. As most organizations that help the needy need an application completed in person and/or they also require case management along with any financial assistance.

Examples of local rural agencies

One option that is available in almost every county (whether rural or urban) is the help from community action agencies. These are partly funded by the federal government, using CSBG (Community Services Block Grant) grants. Other organizations, including the United Way and donation services, help with paying for the resources available. Many experts consider these non-profits to be the nation's poverty fighting organizations.

The services available at each one vary widely though...often no two offer the exact same menu of assistance programs. Some examples of what may be available in a rural area include job training programs, applications to energy bill assistance, Head Start programs, USDA food resources, and more. They also tend to offer referrals. In any case, the community action agencies can almost always provide referrals.

The Salvation Army is usually thought of as the second largest charity organization. They have over 7,000 centers of operations in the US, thousands of which are located in rural communities. There are senior housing centers, thrift shops, family centers which may offer financial aid for rent, food or bills, thrift stores, and much more. Over 20 million Americans receive some form of assistance from them per year. Find social services from the Salvation Army.




Rural community clinics are also available in many parts of the country. These particular groups focus on addressing both medical as well as dental issues. Since may rural communities lack an adequate number of doctors, hospitals or dentists, these clinics often step in to fill the need.

As with many programs in rural areas, each clinic varies greatly in what they may or may not offer. Some offer just physical or dental cleanings. While others offer more extensive medical care, even including rehabilitation from drug or alcohol abuse. In addition they try to meet the needs of low income families or the uninsured by providing care on a sliding fee scale. Find community clinics.

Local churches are often a major resource for the poor or struggling. Studies show that rural area tend to be more god fearing then maybe liberal, city regions. So churches not only provide spiritual guidance, but they also try to step in to feed families, provide basic supplies, and some even provide a few dollars from time to time. Each religious organization varies in what they do. Note they will tend to only help members of their immediate parish, but the assistance programs from churches can be an invaluable resource.

USDA Rural Development provides affordable housing, vouchers, and rental assistance for struggling rural families. Beneficiaries tend to be low-income residents, disabled, immigrants, farmers, and the elderly who live in multi-unit housing buildings in smaller cities or towns. Continue with USDA rental assistance programs.

National charities for rural communities

Also some national charities support rural areas too. One advantage of these is that, when they do provide help, applications for aid may be done online or over the phone. As they will not have a local office to apply at. This can help those individuals with transportation issues. There are hundreds to try for resources, and locate charitable assistance programs.

No matter where someone lives, there is also the government to fall back on. Each rural county will have some sort of social service department. This is the place to apply at for public benefits, ranging from SNAP food stamps to low income housing, USDA commodities, grants for paying bills, and other forms of public assistance. One of the benefits of the government is that they too often accept applications online, which also makes it easier for residents of rural towns to apply.

Due to lack of employment opportunities as well as population density, many banks and “respectable” lenders lack branches in rural area. Even those that exist can often be a hike as they are not convenient to get too. This can in effect limit the amount of credit available. But there are some other lenders available in rural area.





In it never recommended to use a payday lender to borrow money at. So look into every other option first; credit unions, online banking, alternative loans such as peer to peer, and others. There is a multitude of lower cost online lenders and other options that can lend money to people that live in rural areas, even if they have poor credit scores. Find options for paydays loans from low cost lenders.

Jobs, career counseling and work programs in Rural America

Work opportunities can often be challenging too. As noted, many industries (including manufacturers, textile companies, service companies, etc.) have pulled out of rural towns. They have either located to the cities and coastal communities or have gone overseas to take advantages of doing business at a lower cost. So the number of jobs is limited, and some may be miles away which is often a challenge due to transportation.

Therefore work at home jobs may be a good option. Sometimes employees can telecommute and work for national and/or overseas employers. This not only allows the person to get a job, but they do not need to worry about the costs of a car, gasoline, etc. There may be thousands of work from home jobs out there at any one time, but as with any employer they will only take the best candidates.


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By Jon McNamara


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