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Assistance programs from South Carolina Community Action Agencies.

Low income individuals and families in South Carolina can receive a number of services from their local community action agency listed below. Programs can assist residents with meeting their immediate needs while case managers help them work towards long term stabilization, improved employment opportunities and self-sufficiency.

In order to receive support from one of these agencies, households will need to meet income guidelines and other program requirements. Each center will also have their own services available as well as conditions that need to be met for them. Some of the more common assistance programs available in South Carolina include the following.

Financial grants for emergency or basic needs

General Emergency Assistance can help is a crisis. Every day many people are faced with an unexpected bill, job loss or situation that comes up. It may impact their ability to pay for their housing, medical needs, or energy bills. So a local agency may be able to provide, or refer people to, emergency financial assistance or they can help address other family needs. Any funds or grants are very limited. The type of aid provided will usually require the client to enroll in case management and other supportive services to help people move to self-sufficiency.

The Housing Services Project can help eligible applicants to find, pay for, and maintain affordable housing. Assistance may be available for prevention of eviction, or work with a case manager in establishing permanent housing. Additional rental or utility assistance can be provided to prevent termination of utilities and/or to connect power.

Community action agencies mostly provide emergency energy bill assistance through the federal government Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program. It is intended to prevent households from losing cooling service (during the summer) or heat during the winter. It helps residents deal with the rising costs of home energy expenses. During the summer grants and financial assistance is provided in order to prevent termination of electricity, and is mostly for South Carolina residents with a documented medical condition.




Specifically, some of what is offered from LIHEAP includes direct assistance, which is non-emergency assistance to households to defray the cost of heating or cooling bills. The crisis intervention program is offered when someone is faced a shut off of their power.  Some agencies in South Carolina may also distribute air conditioners or heaters, or pay for the repair or replacement of a furnace or HVAC unit.

Centers may offer Outreach Services, which is a form of emergency assistance or cash grants. Usually, financial assistance is limited to preventing termination of water and/or electric services. Limited amounts of help may also be available for paying for prescription medication and food. There are also other grants that assist with bills that any low income, South Carolina family can apply for.

Weatherization is an energy conservation programs that can be applied for at your local community action agency. It provides for insulation, infiltration and minor repairs of homes. It will pay for energy efficiency and conservation measures for qualifying homeowners. Up to $6500 worth of improvements can be made, and the program has been shown to be effective. Many families in South Carolina who have benefit from weatherization have saved a few hundred dollars per year on their bills.

Senior Farmers’ Market Program is an opportunity for low-income seniors to access health food and to otherwise improve their nutrition. It allows them to increase their consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit. Nutritional information is part of the program, and when combined with the fresh produce it has helped many senior citizens in South Carolina get the nutrition they need. The Senior Farmers’ Market Program is an important resource for improving the nutrition of participating low-income seniors, and it also benefits local farmer markets.

Community action housing services

Housing, including mortgages for Veterans, can be provided by a VA Loan. The federal program was created to provide affordable home financing for active duty service members, their spouses and also veteran personnel. The single greatest benefit of the mortgage assistance program is that people can purchase a house with no money down and/or very little out-of-pocket costs. Clients can receive a competitive, lower interest rate loan without any money down and can also potentially avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

The Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) Program is offered for the very low-income population and/or senior citizens living in substandard housing. Many community action agencies administer the Housing Preservation Grant Program on behalf of the USDA-Rural Development Administration. It is a program that pays for home repairs/improvements. A focus is on addressing the health, safety and well-being of the occupant and elderly.





Emergency Shelter Grants Program provides temporary housing and shelter for homeless women, children and families. In some cases, a South Carolina community action agency may issue loans from ESG, if the applicant’s situation calls for it. If someone uses a shelter, they will be encouraged, or maybe required to, seek employment, higher education and other more permanent housing services. Find additional sources of loans for emergencies.

South Carolina Housing Trust Fund Housing Rehabilitation Program is a state funded program designed to provide ensure people have safe, decent, sanitary and affordable housing. It can provide financial assistance for low income households. Community action agencies may offer the housing fund as it accelerates the state's response to the creation of affordable housing through innovative financing. For example, it may offer a service known as Emergency Repair, which will provide required repairs to owner-occupied homes. Updates and improvements need to eliminate clear and present danger to the occupants and to make the home safer.

Job services in South Carolina

Proving residents and the currently unemployed with a wide range of Employment Services are an important function of community action agencies. Specialists and case workers can help in job search and assist with developing skills. Some of the services offered may include the following.

  • Job Search – Access a computer, local job boards, and fairs. This is offered for both the unemployed and people looking for a better job.
  • Preparation – This includes resume creation assistance and interview workshops.

Job Corps is a comprehensive training program and offers educational services for disadvantaged youths ages 16-24. It can offer teenagers and students the opportunity to enroll in GED and basic education, and this is done while they receive vocational training in many areas. It gives clients the skills to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, and may eventually lead to a job with an employer in your local South Carolina town or county. This may also be combined with school-to-work, which is a resource that can assist young people (under the age of 25) in moving from a school setting into the world of work.

SCWorks Centers are located across the state. Your local community agency can direct you to this service. They offer Adult Programs and Workforce Development for adults and the unemployed. Some of what is provided can include Unemployment Insurance Service, Career Resources, Resume Services, and job Training Opportunities. Read more.

Migrant and Seasonal Workers can get assistance from resources such as the Rural Manpower Services Program. This can provide referrals to community-based service organizations and employment opportunities. It will help seasonal workers deal with socioeconomic problems and hardships. Some examples of what can be offered include assistance for youth seeking summer employment in packing and field crop work. Many programs operate in partnership with the South Carolina Regional Employment Standards Administration (Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division).





Additional Youth Programs/Out-of-School is for students who range in age from 16-21. It will help this age group acquire employment so they can become self-sufficient. Sign up for job readiness skills, individualized or group counseling, or occupational skills training. Career planning assistance and interviewing skills may also be offered for youth.

Experience Works is another non-profit organization in South Carolina, and they can partner with community action agencies. The organization is committed to improving the economic, financial and social condition of older South Carolina residents in rural communities. It coordinates essential services and promotes employment and training of persons 55 and older, and many resources are offered in partnership with the US Department of Labor.

Some of the job programs provide short term financial assistance for employment related expenses. Examples may include funds for child care to low-income households, free clothing, or bus passes or gasoline vouchers.

Child programs, including food and education

Head Start is sponsored by many non-profit agencies. It is a federal government funded program that provides low-income families and their children with a comprehensive solution that can help them meet their nutritional, emotional, social, and care health needs. Children with disabilities can also enroll in Head Start as the program and its teachers respect and promote the unique identity of each child. It does not discriminate based on disability, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, or religion.

It provides services such as Family Literacy, Nutrition, Health Education, Parent Involvement, and Family and Community Partnership. Head Start usually involves a support network as well to ensure excellence and development through advocacy, collaboration and coordination.

Agencies may have information on local food pantries, senior centers, or meal sites. For example, day care centers and other locations participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The locations allow children and parents to eat together. Children from lower income families are encouraged to try new food products and can even serve themselves. Meals that may be served are breakfast, lunch and even afternoon snacks.

Counseling and community services

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program can help low- to moderate-income people file their tax returns. The non-profit agencies may use IRS certified volunteers to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the South Carolina. VITA sites can be located at neighborhood and community centers, libraries, shopping malls, post offices, or schools. VITA also usually provides free electronic filing of your income taxes. A similar service is Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), which is for people and seniors aged 60 and older.







Your local Community Action Agency also generally operates other government or non-profit programs including Retired Senior and Volunteer Program, Head Start, Foster Grandparent Project, Weatherization, and of course offers referrals. Much of this is paid for by the Community Service Block Grant Program.
CSBG provides direct services through resources such as the Employment Promotion, Youth Leadership, Community Food and Nutrition, General Emergency Assistance, and Energy Assistance Programs. Some of the services that may be available from Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) include:

  • The General Emergency Assistance Program (GEAP) is offered to income-eligible families and individuals in a crisis to alleviate medical, food, clothing, housing-related, child care, and transportation emergencies. Many unemployed or underemployed benefit from this. There is a maximum dollar amount of assistance offered in any year to pay for cars or other transportation costs. However, the actual amount paid out in South Carolina will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Or find other sources of cars for free, that are for employment needs.
  • The Community Food and Nutrition Program collaborates with medical and social service providers in South Carolina to supplement the dietary and medical needs of low-income and elderly individuals.
  • Case Management is almost always required for any client, whether they have a job or are unemployed. It was designed to help clients establish milestones that act as a map to achieving a specific goal. Case management is accomplished through employment services, referrals, counseling, advocacy, and educational enhancement services.
  • Other support services offered by your local non-profit agency may include childcare, medical exams, transportation or any other service unique to a particular situation. Most of the efforts from staff and case workers are in the area of employment assistance, and they are coordinated with both the public and private companies.

South Carolina locations of community action centers

Aiken/Barnwell/Lexington Community Action Commission, Inc.
Mailing address - P.O. Box 2066
Aiken, South Carolina 29802-2066
(803) 648-6836
Some of what the non-profit commission offers includes information on LIHEAP, eviction prevention, applications for government benefits such as SNAP food stamps and other support. Continue.

Beaufort-Jasper Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc.
1905 Duke Street, Suite 250
Beaufort, SC 29901-0009
Call (843) 255-7223
Referrals, federal government grants, case management and other assistance is offered from the non-profit community action agency. Get help from Beaufort-Jasper Economic Opportunity Commission.

Carolina Community Actions, Inc.
Location is 234 Johnson Street
Rock Hill, South Carolina 29731-6933
Telephone: (803) 329-5195
Covers Chester, Fairfield, Union, York, and Lancaster County. The General Assistance Programs offers qualified families government grants for paying bills or other needs, such as housing. More Carolina Community Action Agency.





Charleston County Human Services Commission
Address is 1069 King Street
Charleston, SC 29413
Telephone number - (843) 724-6760
Low income and residents of Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester can call this community action agency. One focus is on utility and housing assistance. Funds may be available for needs such as water and utility bills or emergency rent help. Job placement is available from Project Pride, or the homeless can look into cash assistance for security deposits. More information.

Chesterfield-Marlboro Economic Opportunity Council, Inc.
318-322 Front Street
Cheraw, SC 29525
Call (843) 320-9760 for intake and information.
The non-profit offers Community Food and Nutrition, grants from general assistance, LIHEAP, and other services. Read Chesterfield-Marlboro community action.

Darlington County Community Action Agency
Address is 904 South Fourth Street
Hartsville, South Carolina 29550
(843) 332-1135
Call to speak to a case manager. Qualified individuals can apply for LIHEAP energy assistance or weatherization. Employment services and job training is offered to local South Carolina families as well, including to the unemployed.

GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission
Main address is 237 N. Hospital Street
Greenwood, SC 29648
Telephone: (864) 229-8801
Covers Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Saluda, and Greenwood County. Workforce Development includes job training, the agency may administer Community Services Block Grant, and offer other financial help or referrals in South Carolina. Learn more.

Lowcountry Community Action Agency
Main address is 319 Washington Street
Walterboro, SC 29488
Telephone: (843) 549-5576
Programs are offered in both Colleton and Hampton. The non-profit provides everything from grants for housing costs (rent, utilities, security deposits) to Head Start and free food. More on financial help from Lowcountry community action.

OCAB Community Action Agency
Mailing address - P.O. Drawer 710
Orangeburg, South Carolina 29116-0710
Telephone number is (803) 536-1027
Programs are for people in Orangeburg, Allendale, Bamberg, and Calhoun. Learn more.

Pee Dee Community Action Partnership
2685 S. Irby Street
Florence, SC 29505
(843) 678-3400
Counties supported - Dillon, Marion, Florence.
This non-profit offers support from Transitional Shelter, they offer housing and homeless assistance, and other aid. Click more Pee Dee community action.

Piedmont Community Action, Inc.
Address - 300 So. Daniel Morgan Avenue, Bldg. A
Spartanburg, SC 29306
Main telephone: (864) 585-8183
Some of the government and non-profit programs administered include weatherization, Head Start, and emergency grants. Cherokee, Spartanburg, and Greenville County. Click here.

Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources, Inc. (SHARE)
Mailing address - P.O. Box 10204
Greenville, South Carolina 29603
Telephone: (864) 269-0700
Counties include Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville. Thousands of low income families and seniors get help with everything from Head Start, free food or maybe loan programs for rent or deposits, both utility and security. More SHARE community action assistance programs.





Statewide Telamon – Assistance is for renters and homeowners. Potential services in South Carolina include weatherization, credit counseling, help for stopping evictions, and referrals to low income apartments. Continue Telamon services.

Waccamaw Economic Opportunity Council, Inc.
Mailing address is P.O. Box 1467
Conway, SC 29528
Telephone - (843) 234-4100
Region is Horry, Georgetown, and Williamsburg. A number of resources are focused on senior citizens in the area. Food, foreclosure and housing counseling, and other aid is administered. Transportation for seniors may also be coordinated. More on community action programs from Waccamaw.

Wateree Community Actions, Inc.
13 South Main Street
Sumter, South Carolina 29151
Call (803) 775-4354 for services.
Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, Sumter, and Richland County. Financial support is from General Emergency Assistance Program as well as LIHEAP. They also offer emergency housing assistance (such as rent and deposits) as well as transitional units. Or receive food, personal hygiene kits, and other support. Continue.


By Jon McNamara

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