Southwestern Community Action Agency Council assistance programs.

Assistance from the non-profit Community Action Council of Southwestern West Virginia is wide ranging. The agency is part of the nationwide network of non-profit organizations and supports the counties of Lincoln, Cabell, Mason, and Wayne. While most of the programs are funded by grants from CSBG, other resources are available as well using private funding.

Low income families and others, such as the unemployed, can access resources from the agency. Some of the highest in demand services include the LIHEAP - Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, free food, and housing / shelter. Other assistance is available as well. In addition, the Southwestern Community Action Council can provide referrals to other local and national programs.

Financial aid and support from Southwestern Community Action Council

Many of the resources in the region are funded by the CSBG, or Community Service Block Grant. There will be annual allotments made from it. This is the federal government grant program. It is run in partnership with other non-profits such as the Wayne County Community Services Organization as well as the Lincoln County Opportunity Company. The CSBG is what is used to pay for and support the various programs in question. While they will change from year to year based on funding levels, what may be available is as follows.

  • Employment assistance, which includes resume creation, job search, and practice interviewing skills.
  • Vision care and optical programs can help by providing classes or contact exams to the needy and low income, including the uninsured.
  • GED preparation is available.
  • Utility bill assistance, including LIHEAP applications. This is available in counties such as Lincoln and Wayne, and they can offer either grants or cash aid for heating and energy costs.
  • Income tax assistance is part of VTA. Southwestern Community Action Council and its staff or volunteers help with filing taxes.
  • Free food and meals is from an emergency pantry run by SCAC. There is also a senior, congregate meal program.

The community action agency will also generally have referrals available to other organizations. This may also be application assistance to other private and federal programs offered, even including resources such as food stamps.




Homeless, rent, and housing assistance is part of the shelter system. Self-sufficiency is a key part of what is required with this. Family’s will be responsible for the development of a plan to resolve issues and achieve independence related to their homelessness. Staff from the SCAC agency is available to assist them in achieving goals and aid them in developing skills that may assist in preventing a recurrence.

Clients can benefit from access to lodging / emergency shelter. Case management is coordinated and involved focusing on obtaining a job and a permanent residence. Or get transportation on an as needed basis.

Referrals and linkage is available. Guests of the shelter can learn about programs, including loans, that may assist with paying a security deposit or first months rent on a new apartment. Or get referrals to food/meal sites in counties such as Wayne and Mason. Basic living skills training is also offered.

Community Action Council of Southwestern West Virginia also runs the Weatherization Program. This is a form of conservation that works to reduce the cooling and heating costs for low-income families, particularly for people with disabilities, the elderly, and families with children. It will improve the energy efficiency of their homes and ensuring health and safety.

Those that qualify will receive free energy efficient measures such as sidewalks, insulating attics, wrapping hot water tanks/pipe wrap, CO detectors, ductwork, smoke alarms and performing air sealing measures. Trained HVAC Specialists and contractors from the community action agency repair or replace entire heating systems with the highest efficiency equipment available.

Energy conservation and weatherization is a fully comprehensive service that begins with a computerized assessment, audit of the home, and client education. This will ascertain the energy efficiency of the heating system in a given home. Based on those results, modifications and improvements will be made.

Simms Housing Project is paid for by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. Simms Housing is a permanent supportive housing program for chronically homeless and disabled individuals in the region. In addition to having a history of homelessness, residents of the site and clients of the agency must have a serious health concern or mental health diagnosis that is a barrier to finding and maintaining permanent housing.





Educational and employment programs

Education is available from Head Start. This is for children under the age of 6, and it can address education, health, and nutritional needs of children from lower income families. The main objective of the community action agency and Child Health and Development Services is to ensure that all child health and developmental concerns are identified and addressed. It is also offered through collaboration among staff, families, and health care professionals in the region.

Children from working poor or low income families in West Virginia, their parents and families are linked to an ongoing source of continuous, accessible care to meet their basic health needs. For those under the age of 3, even including new borns, they may be referred to the Early Head Start program.

The objective of these various Education and Early Childhood Development programs is to provide clients with a nurturing, safe, engaging, enjoyable, and secure learning environment. The students will benefit from gaining new skills, awareness, and confidence necessary to succeed in their present environment.

The experiences provided by the Head Start program support the continuum of children’s growth and development, and each and every child is treated as an individual. Southwestern Community Action Council staff and teachers address the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive development of each child.

Homemaker services may be available to those that qualify for the Title XIX Medicaid Waiver Program. This will often include seniors and the disabled in Wayne and Cabell County. This program will help clients in daily activities of living and who are CPR certified. A key partner in this program is the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

Clients will develop a Plan of Care with a Registered Nurse. The disabled or elderly person will benefit from meal planning, personal care and preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, as well as transportation and socialization.

Case Management from SCAC is provided for each income qualified client. This is offered by a licensed Social Worker from the non-profit. They will work with each client, utilizing community resources and West Virginia programs, to ensure each client receives optimal medical, social, and psychological services.

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is funded by the United States Department of Labor and is sponsored by the National Council on Aging. The job training and placement program works with non-profit community agencies and charities to help income-qualified participants 55 and over increase skills, find jobs, and supplement their incomes.




Each applicant to the job placement and training program is interviewed to determine abilities and aptitudes. Initial employment assistance may be provided in the form of money to provide for the renewal of a professional license, schooling, or other basic necessities such as eyeglasses.

For more details or information on programs, call the Southwestern Community Action Council (SCAC). The non-profits operates in several counties, but the main office is at 540 5th Avenue, Huntington, West Virginia 25701. Telephone number is (304) 525-5151.


By Jon McNamara

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