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Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission assistance programs.

The focus of the Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission is on addressing poverty and alleviating the struggles of low income families. The non-profit administers several different short and long term assistance programs in the region. Services, financial aid, and case management is available in the counties of Fulton, Henry, Defiance, Paulding, Williams, and Van Wert.

More details are below, however NOCAC offers free food, shelter, and low income energy bill assistance. They also help families facing eviction or those that are currently homeless, by assisting with making a rental payment or having funds available for a security deposit. Also work with a case manager on addressing the cause of your hardship.

Housing programs from NOCAC

Home repairs and modifications for the disabled or seniors can support homeowners with minor repairs. This will ideally allow the individual to continue to reside safely in their homes. It is for low income qualified families. The agency will determine whether a zero percent loan will be issued to homeowners to provide for these repairs or whether some other form of financial aid is used. It covers residents in the counties such as Defiance, Van Wert or Fulton. This particular housing program is funded through the Office of Housing and Community Partnerships/ODOD as well as the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.

Examples of improvements may include replace or repair heating units or water heater tanks, minor electrical repairs, installation of additional lighting in stairwells, handheld shower installation and handicap toilets, updates to bathrooms or kitchen faucets and roof patching.

Assistance for paying a monthly rent payment or security deposit is available. Several different programs from Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission, including low cost loans, can be called upon to pay the rent if it will prevent an eviction. There is also help offered to the homeless so that they can obtain affordable housing. Some of the key partners include Emergency Food and Shelter, the United Way as well as the Homeless Assistance Grant Program.

Any cash assistance paid out will vary and depend on factors such as the applicant’s income levels. While funding is limited, the agency can sometimes help with paying back rent or past due mortgage, a deposit for homeless individuals and families as well as first month’s rent.




A shelter and soup kitchen is available as part of PATH - Partnership Assistance to the Homeless. It is located in Defiance Ohio. The center focuses on serving currently homeless families and persons, those who have food or nutritional needs or residents with severe mental disabilities. The soup kitchen will serve a free hot nutritious meal as well as special Thanksgiving and Christmas program. Other assistance at PATH includes USDA Food Commodity Distribution, Friendship and Socialization and morning coffee, and juice. Social workers also offer referral information for area social service agencies and government programs, such as public housing or food assistance.

Housing services at this NOCAC supported Emergency Shelter are for the entire region, including Defiance, Henry, Paulding, and Williams Counties. While staying in this short term shelter, a case manager works closely with the family or individual to identify and work towards the goal of achieving independent, permanent housing. Assistance is available for needs such as employment, budgeting, mental health care and access to nutrition, basic health care, and transportation programs.

The goal is to help house an individual, so learn about programs for paying first months rent, utility connections, or a security deposit. Ongoing case management is also offered by the community action agency as part of PATH.

HWAP - Home Weatherization Program is available at the non-profit Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission. It used government grants and funds from the Ohio Department Services Agency, Office of Community Assistance.

These free weatherization activities save energy usage and therefore lower the bills for income eligible individuals in the service area. It works by providing energy related home updates and other modifications to those that qualify. It is for both renters and owners. The goal of NOCAC is to make homes safe, comfortable and more energy efficient. Eligible applicants from the region, such as Defiance County, are served on a need for services basis.

Clients can receive new heating systems, furnaces or repairs or replacements. Contractors also offer additional Attic, Wall and Floor insulation as well as seal the home or offer emergency repairs. Hundreds of dollars could potentially be saved on energy bills.

Low income, or Single Room Occupancy (SRO) apartments, are available. These units are subsidized by the federal government HUD - Department of Housing and Urban Development. Qualified tenants will need to pay up to 30% of their household income for their monthly rent and energy bills. Single Room Occupancy housing is available the homeless as well. As part of your stay, access case management including job training, receive meals, and other support.

The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio as well as NOCAC offer SSI Ohio Project. This is a means of support for residents age 18 and older who may be dealing with homelessness or facing evictions. The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks is also a key partner. Staff from these agencies help the mentally ill obtain social security disability benefits (SSDI) or access other resources from the Ohio Benefits Bank.





Community Action Northwestern Ohio utility bill assistance

Utility and heating bill assistance is also available from NOCAC. Using different government grants and funding sources, the non-profit assist families and individuals from all counties with paying the high cost of utilities. A key goal is to help clients avoid the disconnection of utility services, especially their heat during the winter. Aid is available across Henry, Fulton, Defiance, Williams, Van Wert and Paulding County Ohio.

HEAP - Home Energy Assistance Program is maybe the main program. It helps with the cost of cooling homes in the summer or paying winter heating bills. The Regular component of HEAP provides a one-time payment, while the emergency aid is for disconnection prevention.

The Ohio Department of Development, Office of Community Assistance as well as the federal government keep HEAP funded. A priority is for the elderly or disabled. Note that in some cases, vouchers are issued to non-regulated utility customers.

Emergency HEAP applications are processed by NOCAC Community Services. This is mainly for the winter, but there may be some grants for summer air conditioning bills. It assists households in Northwestern Ohio that are currently disconnected, threatened with disconnection, or have under a ten day supply of bulk fuel. It can help with furnace or heating system repairs too. Applicants also need to be signed up under the of Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus).

During the summer, some financial aid may be offered too. It will be for cooling bills, namely electric. Or customers may be given a free fan or air conditioner to use.

Additional programs from Northwestern Ohio Community Action can help with energy bills. Examples may be Bryan Good Neighbors Utility Fund, the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant, Salvation Army, or referrals to local churches.

Find help with First Energy as well as Toledo Edison Electric bills. Those customers that are currently qualified for the federal funded Home Weatherization Assistance Program may be eligible to receive additional energy conservation and efficiency services. American Electric Power also offers additional measures that are based on this weatherization model.

The two companies, working with the Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy (OPAE), may offer customers the replacement of inefficient appliances or free consumer education materials. The goal of this Toledo Edison program is to reduce overall energy bills and usage in the customer’s home. This program is funded through First Energy Corporation.

Additional services such as food

Summer food is paid for by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Ohio Department of Education and local United Way agencies in Northwestern Ohio. The program known as SFSP was established to ensure that children from low income families receive free nutritious snacks or meals in the summer months. All of the food offered will fully meet the federal government nutrition guidelines and are provided to all children who qualify. The meals are served at churches, parks, and local charities.




The Head Start school readiness program is offered by the Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission for preschool children under the age of 6. It is for families that meet federal government income guidelines based on certain poverty guidelines. Head Start is also for foster children in Ohio, the  homeless, disabled or people receiving public assistance. There is center or school based sessions as well as Home Based and Combined services.

The Ohio Early Childhood Education is a more local resource that is paid for by the Ohio Department of Education. There may be some involved in this program. It is available in just a few schools. Eligibility for ECE, which is similar to Head Start, is also based on family residency within the participating school district.

Affordable child care, based on a sliding fee scale, is available from the Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission and its partner providers. Families in the region, including Hancock, Williams, and Fulton County can access low cost (or maybe free) day care if they are working or in job training.

For more information on these resources or to apply for help, stop by 1933 E. Second Street, Defiance, Ohio 43512. Or dial 419-784-5136.


By Jon McNamara

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