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Financial assistance programs from O.C.E.A.N. community action.

Several financial assistance programs are administered by O.C.E.A.N. While the non-profit will focus on basic needs such as food, housing and shelter, other support is available too. Case managers can help low income families get the help they need from local resources or federal government programs.

The community action agency of Ocean County New Jersey processes applications for several state and federal government sponsored programs. These can include LUHEAP heating bill assistance, rent help and homeless prevention, low income housing, food stamps, and more. Some of the main resources administered are noted below.

Utility and heating bill programs

O.C.E.A.N., Inc. is one of the leading agencies for the less fortunate. They are located in the county of Ocean New Jersey and they can help pay your electric bill. A few resources available are their Home Energy Assistance program, Gift of Warmth, and more.

Gift of Warmth is a one-time per year financial assistance program for customers of NJ Natural Gas (NJNG). There are conditions that need to be met, but it is really for those who may having trouble paying their monthly NJNG bill. Call Home Energy for more details at 732-244-9041 or to get an application.

If is in effect a free grant program for paying bills. It assists with the NJNG company only. The team at OCEAN can direct income qualified families to it. However there are other regional options too. Or they can find other free money grant for paying bill programs.

The Home Energy Universal Services Program provides assistance with paying bills to households that meet their income guidelines. The aid is from the federal government and is for those who are unable to pay their heating bill due to financial hardship or situations may have affected their income. Assistance is processed through a one-time grant payment within a given heating season. Any type of emergency assistance for home energy customers is limited to the availability of funds. The individual programs are another option as well. Examples of them are as follows:




NJ Shares is another program designed to help those in need with paying their bills. This is an energy-assistance program that helps families who do not qualify for any other federal government or state of New Jersey energy programs and whose household income does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Government set Poverty Level.

The participant needs to fill out an electronic application with the assistance of case managers from O.C.E.A.N. New Jersey SHARES is also  Eligibility for any support is determined by income and household size.

As funding allows, New Jersey SHARES grant maximums are $700 for heating and $300 for electricity expenses. Those who heat with electric can receive up to $700 credited to their electric heat account. Grants are distributed on a year-round based on availability of funds. Assistance is made available when funding permits and of course is only paid out when a household from the county qualifies.

The O.C.E.A.N. Weatherization program was made to assist with the needs of cost-burdened, low-income Ocean County residents. Many seniors and families with children benefit too. It can help them who are not able to afford the added expense of repairing or replacing items in their home that if repaired or replaced, would help them reduce or stop high energy bills. Eligibility is based on income guidelines from the federal government.

Services include, but are not limited to, an energy audit, broken window repair, weather-stripping and/or caulking around doors and windows, replacing of main doors and windows, skirting around mobile homes, furnace replacement or repair, and hot water heater repairs, or insulation of attics and crawlspaces.

These government sponsored weatherization services are available to income eligible homeowners in Ocean County at no cost to them. Services are available to renters (with landlord approval) as well as homeowners.





Cooling Bill Assistance is another type of utility program made available to those who need help paying their bills during the summer months. Applicants who meet the income eligibility and have a doctor’s note documenting that they or a household member are in medical need of air conditioning during the summer are typical clients. They may receive cooling or air conditioning bill assistance From O.C.E.A.N if funds are available. The funds tend to be short term in nature so they can remain cool. Call 732-244-9041 for details.

Housing, rent, and mortgage resources from O.C.E.A.N.

Rent and security deposit assistance may be available from the community action agency. Another program that is offered from O.C.E.A.N., Inc. is a homelessness prevention program.

They provide these resources to the residents of Ocean County. The agency will assesses each individual or family’s situation, then provide appropriate assistance. Depending on many factors, this may include funding in certain situations, as well as contacting and working with the homeowner’s bank, mortgage lender, or their landlord. Residents may also get referrals for counseling on how to budget to avoid future problems, and make referrals to other support organizations or local charities. The main number is (732) 244-2351.

The federal government also offer rapid rehousing as well as homeless prevention. This is in addition to local grant and monetary services from OCEAN community action or its partners. HUD and other federal agencies pay for it.

Housing Counseling is another service from O.C.E.A.N. There is help for both homeowners and tenants in Ocean County. The non-profit is also one of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s certified housing counseling agency for Ocean County.

A highly trained Housing Counselor will provide counseling services and advice to clients on a different housing issues which can include some or all of the following.

They may receive mortgage counseling, tenant/landlord mediation services, HECM (reverse mortgage), homeless prevention support (see above), foreclosure, default and delinquency, and credit counseling. Or they can learn about section 8 as well as home buying programs. In certain cases, some FEMA funding or loans may be available to assist eligible applicants with paying one month’s rent, security deposits or mortgage payment in cases of emergency. This is intended to prevent homelessness. More on section 8 mortgage help.

Another one of O.C.E.A.N., Inc. many resources and assistance programs is the administering for the Ocean County Consortium’s First Time Homebuyer program. This program brings together County government agencies with many area lenders and banks.

They all work with O.C.E.A.N. in a cooperative effort to make it easier for first time homebuyers to achieve the dream of homeownership. The focus in on helping the state’s and counties low to moderate income households. They can get advice, help with closing costs, lower interest loans for paying any costs, and more. Call 732-244-2351.

This community action agency program uses HUD income guidelines to determine eligibility of local residents. All eligible participants must attend a free introductory workshop. There are also seminars that cover the basics of home buying and homeownership including topics such as deciding how much you can afford, debt reduction, the importance of their credit report, a review of the mortgage application process, and go over a list of homeownership responsibilities.





Another O.C.E.A.N. Housing Counseling service is available as well. This can help people obtain help in creating a savings plan, save money, repair and maintaining good credit, and budgeting for a future home.

One of the primary missions of the Homeowners and Renters Division of O.C.E.A.N., Inc. is to help house families and prevent eviction or homelessness. They work to create more safe, sanitary, and affordable housing in Ocean County and make readily available access to affordable housing for working poor and/or low-income households.

Affordable rental housing is also available. O.C.E.A.N., Inc. provides apartments and housing units to low-income families by building new housing or improving conditions of existing units or apartments. One of the main units is for seniors in Ocean County New Jersey, and that is the Lakewood, NJ senior home. It is located at 144 John Street, Lakewood, NJ 08701. Call (732) 730-1374.

Additional community action agency services

Child care is available. The purpose of O.C.E.A.N. and the Kids program is to combine affordable, high quality child care with an early childhood development curriculum. The goal of this program is to help children from lower income families grow emotionally, physically, socially, and cognitively at their own pace.

All of the teachers and the staff at the center are trained and skilled to meet the needs of both parents, students young children. O.C.E.A.N. also offers summer activities for school-age youth which include field trips.

Low income families often need to balance child care as they work. Therefore O.C.E.A.N. coordinates job placement and training too. The programs will help clients gain new skills, create resumes, search for a job, and more. Or even learn about flex as well as work from home positions. All this can lead to a higher income, and read more on free job placement in New Jersey.

The federal and state of New Jersey funded Head Start is a comprehensive pre-school program for children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. It is intended to help those from economically disadvantaged families. Program eligibility is income based on federal government guidelines.

Head Start is a fully comprehensive pre-school that deals with needs such as Health, Education, Medical care, Social Services, Parental Involvement, and the disabled and any Special Needs. The Education offered is that every child will receive a variety of learning experiences that will foster social, physical, and cognitive growth.

Health Care is also part of O.C.E.A.N. and the Head Start program. This will also arrange for every child to receive, if needed, comprehensive health care including complete dental and medical checkups, nutrition services, food, and more.

Some of the medical exams from Head Start can include identification of disabling conditions, vision and hearing tests, immunizations, and free dental exams.

Children can also benefit from Nutrition services, which include at least one free hot meal, lunch and one snack for each child daily. A trained nutritionist supervises the nutrition activities for the Head Start program.

Parents can also help the program, and also access the availability of Social Services that are available in Ocean County New Jersey. Case managers  are there to assist Head Start families in determining what their specific needs are, and helping to guide each family to meet those needs. This can be help applying for benefits such as SNAP, job training and other referrals to community or government resources.

Head start can also help children with disabilities in the county. Special needs services (including speech, medical, dental and mental health consultation) are offered at each Head Start location.







Locations of the OCEAN County community action centers are as follows

There are a few sites in the county. Residents can go to the non-profit near them for financial aid, counseling, housing, and other support. Staff try to assist the best they can.

Ocean County Southern Service Center is at Rt 9, 179 South Main Street, Manahawkin, New Jersey 08050, telephone (609) 978-6283

Lions Head Office Park center - 35 Beaverson Blvd. Bldg., Brick, NJ 08723, (732) 477-5260

Toms River Location, 2008 Rt. 37 East, Suite 12, Toms River, New Jersey 08753, telephone (732) 288-7913


By Jon McNamara


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