Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency.

One of the leading non-profits in the area is the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, or NEMCSA. They run a number of programs, provide referrals, and case managers can help people apply for government benefits as well. While they will offer some short term support or direct clients to resources, the true objective is to help families gain stability or break the cycle of poverty, if applicable. The community action agency offers resources across Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Otsego, and Presque Isle County Michigan.

Emergency assistance and basic needs from Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency

The federal government organized Emergency Food Assistance Program can help low income seniors and families with children. It will provide qualified households with surplus government canned items and commodities. More information on emergency food can be obtained by dialing (989) 358-4700.

Applications for CSFP, or the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, can be provided by the non-profit Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency. Help is for low-income and working poor individuals that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. This will be child, pregnant women, infants, seniors, and babies.

Low Income Weatherization Program provides qualified homeowners in Michigan with free water heater insulation, ceiling, pipe wrap, minor home improvements, and attic insulation and ventilation. Other updates can be wall, caulking, floor and perimeter insulation, weather-stripping and other measures to prevent air infiltration. Call (989) 358-4700.

Free federal government and state of Michigan income tax preparation assistance is provided to low income families and individuals. This is generally for those that qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Call (989) 356-3474.




Rent and housing assistance

For those facing a crisis, the Homeless Prevention Program provides families with security deposit assistance funds for paying first month's rent, utility arrearage payments, water costs, and some other rental assistance. It is offered as a last resort to people facing a shut off of their power or eviction. The goal is to prevent the family from being homeless and living on the street.

The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency Crisis Prevention Program provides limited amounts of financial assistance with paying heat and other utility costs. Funds can pay for propane, fuel oil, electricity or firewood. The grants can address the shutoff notices for electricity and natural gas customers in many counties. These rent and energy bill services are for the area including Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties. The main number is (989) 358-4713.

The Continuum of Care strategy and the Rural Supportive Housing Program provides social services and assistance to homeless persons in the northeast Michigan area who are transitioning from short term shelters to permanent housing and maximum self-sufficiency. What may be offered by the community action agency includes security deposits, first month’s rent, and other household goods. Clients will also enroll into individual or family case management to ensure long-term success.

Subsidized rent help is available from the Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV). This is often called section 8 and is for very low income and homeless families and individuals. The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency uses federal funds and partners with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's to administer this benefit.

While there is a waiting list, whenever possible the program offers families with rental assistance along with case management. Staff from NEMCSA also provide clients with self-sufficiency, job training, and other support. The non-profit offers vouchers in Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Presque Isle and Roscommon County.

Transitional housing is offered in serves Crawford, Ogemaw, Oscoda, and Roscommon County from the Leasing Assistance Program known as TSHLAP. It is similar to the federal government TBRA program. Any rental assistance is only given in three month increments for a maximum of 24 months.

Veteran's Supportive Services can offer housing assistance, stability, and support to homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. Those that are low-income or looking for a home can apply for security deposits, rental assistance, utility bill payments, funds for moving costs, emergency costs, and transportation as well.





Self-sufficiency from NEMCSA

One key program is known as the Family Self-Sufficiency program. It offers case management to participating families through the coordination of local, community-based resources. Staff will work with the client and get them on the path to economic independence.

The FSS program goals are to help families become self-sufficient, maintain employment, move off public assistance and enroll into home ownership resources. Participants of Family Self-Sufficiency work to increase their family income.

Upon successful completion of the program, participants can use their escrow account funds for homeownership down payment assistance, debt relief, vehicle purchase or educational expenses.

Money IDA is the Individual Development Account Program that is administered by Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency. It will allow low-income individuals the opportunity to save money for home ownership, small business development, or post-secondary education/vocational training. Matching grants are offered too.

Programs for children

The main federally funded program for children from low-income families is Head Start. It is available for children under the age of 5, pregnant mothers, infants, and newborns. The goal of this program, as well as Early Head Start, is to promote healthy outcomes for pregnant women, coordinate healthy family functioning, and also enhance the development of young children.

Head Start is a fully comprehensive assistance program. In addition to education, it will provide the child and their parents with social service, free health/dental care, nutrition, disability services, and mental health care. All of this and more is for participating families. After the child goes through this process, ideally they will be able to more effectively deal with school and life in general. Call (800) 968-2226.

Another option is the Michigan School Readiness Program. It provides many of the same services as Head Start and is for more moderate income families in the northeastern part of the state. Another education program for children is the School Success Partnership. This will help those youth that are facing challenges in school.

Senior care in northeastern Michigan

The Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency also serves as the Area Agency on Aging for counties such as Alcona, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, Presque Isle and others. The non-profit will plan, coordinate and offer services for the elderly.

In-Home Services for the elderly and senior citizens include Personal Care, Homemaking, Low cost/Free Home Delivered Meals, and Respite Care. Recipients must live within the serve area and they also need to meet the 60 years of age requirement or be the spouse of someone 60 years of age or older. This is required in order to receive home-delivered meals or any home care/live in assistance. Call (989) 356-3474.

Congregate Meal sites are spread across Northeastern Michigan. These Local Senior Centers and partner charities and churches are the focus for providing these nutritionally balanced meals to individuals on a daily basis. Participants must meet the 60 years of age requirement or be the spouse of someone that qualified. Call (989) 356-3474.




MMAP - The Medicaid/Medicare Assistance Program is a local hotline for Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of their income or age. Highly trained volunteers will be able to work with callers and assist them with understanding both Medicaid and Medicare eligibility, the enrollment process, coverage that is provided, medical bills, and information on long-term care insurance. The hotline number is (800) 803-7174.

Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency has information on the National Family Caregiver Support program. This offers services and information to family caregivers who are taking care of someone older than age 60. It can also help those that are caring for grandparent(s) and other relatives.

Assistive technology can be acquired and paid for using the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund. It will offer clients low interest, fixed-rate loans. Funds are available to income qualified applicants from NEMCSA to finance the purchase of assistive technology equipment or services. Loans can be used by seniors or the disabled to buy ramps, vehicle lifts, pay for minor home modifications, specialized computers, etc.

Community Based Care Services can offer a variety of home care and other services needed by frail elderly persons. The goal is to keep them at home and help them avoid nursing home placement. Similar to that is the MI-Choice Waiver Program. This was created to allow persons who are eligible for Medicaid-covered nursing home services to remain living in their own, current home.

Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA) is located at 2375 Gordon Road, Alpena, MI 49707. Call (989) 356-3474.


By Jon McNamara

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