Find help with bills from Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority.

The regional Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority coordinates assistance for several counties in Georgia. Many of them, such as rental and utility bill assistance, are funded by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. While the non-profit Community Action agency may have limited financial aid for certain income qualified residents, the focus is on self-sufficiency, including employment and coordinating job training.

Case managers provide programs across the counties of Berrien, Ben Hill, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Tift, Lowndes and Turner Counties. Many of their services are available in partnership with groups such as the United Way, the Department of Homeland Security's Emergency Food and Shelter, and local government entities.

Programs for rent, energy bills and housing expenses

Coastal Plain Area EOA operates EFS, or the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. This is available in collaboration with several other local agencies. Each income qualified household may apply only once, in response to a crisis situation. As a restricted federal grant, assistance is limited to helping with shelter (such as free motel/hotel vouchers), food, rent/mortgage assistance, security deposits, or utility assistance.

This operates as the result of funding from the Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG), the United Way of Lowndes County, or the ESG Emergency Shelter Grant Program. Funding for EFS also comes from the US Department of Homeland Security's Emergency Food & Shelter Program, and it is disbursed according to local guidelines and charity boards. Some families from Georgia may be issued a loan as part of EFSP for their rent or energy costs.

In order to apply for a grant, the agency will require documentation that the household has received a five-day eviction notice, as well as verification any motel expenses, utility bills or employment. Each year, program needs as well as funding levels are reassessed and changes are made to adapt to the needs of the community.

The goal of the Community Services Block Grant Program is to provide assistance to low-income residents in counties such as Berrien, Lanier, or Turner. The Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority help clients with gaining the knowledge, skills and motivation that are vital in achieving self-sufficiency.




Social services and employment from Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity

County Outreach Offices across Georgia are usually the first point of contact for people in need of emergency assistance. The agency will work to ensure that Outreach Office field staff members receive training in referring, educating and providing direct assistance to the public. CSBG also provides immediate life necessities, such as medicine, free food, shelter, transportation, and similar items.

FDP - Family Development case managers work closely with clients to determine their needs, and then provide comprehensive support services to help them move forward to self-sufficiency. Some of the counseling services provided by FDP include budgeting, career guidance, job skills training, help for household finances, basic education, home ownership counseling, child care resources, nutritional assistance, home care, and assistance for time management. Case managers also furnish referrals to appropriate area service agencies, including in counties of Turner and Irwin as needed.

The Coastal Plain Area EOA administers utility bill programs that assist local households with managing the costs of heating bill and also cooling a home. One key government program is the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Using grants from the state, it provides home energy and crisis payment assistance to working poor and low-income households.

Weatherization is another home energy assistance program. It differs from LIHEAP in that rather than providing financial assistance, the aim is to help lower income-eligible homeowners or renters save money. A focus is on seniors, the disabled, and very low income.

It reaches this goal by making alterations and/or repairs to improve home energy efficiency, which helps lower their monthly bills, enhance the comfort of the home, and the updates also make the home safer to live in. Some of the weatherization services provided by this program include the Insulation of Attic, Floors and Sidewalls; Window and Door Replacement and also the Cleaning, and Tuning of Furnace.

Georgia Power also operates an energy efficiency program in partnership with Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority. It is for low-income residents and it provides materials and homeowner education. Note that this program is limited to Georgia Power customers who use electricity as their primary heating source.





The EOA Adult Education and Job Development Program offers an array of instructional, educational and support services that are designed to guide adults who are working toward achieving economic self-reliance. Clients, whether employed or not, are referred from other EOA programs, such as Community Services, Head Start and Senior Services.

The educational support is wide ranging. Some of the services include Basic Skills Tutoring, Job Development Classes, Help with Resumes, Writing Skills and Cover Letters, Interview Preparation, and Job Placement.

Early childhood development is offered from Head Start. This operates in the region as an youth type development program for disadvantaged preschool-aged children and their parents as well. This is an inclusive, comprehensive program.

Head Start program objectives include ensuring that young children are ready to begin school by promoting health care, social, and overall physical development. Children will be better prepared for school. Parents of the child are also strongly encouraged to be involved in all aspects of the children's education and development.

Locations of Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority

  • Ben Hill County, 401 N. Sheridan St., Fitzgerald, Georgia 31750, dial 229-426-5177
  • Berrien County, 402 Hazel Ave., Nashville, GA 31639, telephone 229-686-7871
  • Brooks County center is at 400 Courtland Ave., Quitman, GA 31643, 229-263-7818
  • Cook County, 303 S. College St., Sparks, Georgia 31647. For information, dial 229-549-8780
  • Echols County, 170 Church of God St., Statenville, GA 31648, 229-559-3472
  • Irwin County, 310 Vo Tech Rd., Ocilla, GA 31774, telephone number is 229-468-5186
  • Lanier County, 810 S. Oak St., Lakeland, GA 31635, 229-482-3435
  • Lowndes County, 900 S. Troupe St., Valdosta, Georgia 31601, dial 229-242-8814
  • Another center is at 704 Main St., Ray City, Georgia 31645, 229-455-2501
  • Tift County, 2737 S. Central Ave., Tifton, GA 31794, telephone 229-382-2960



By Jon McNamara

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