STEPS emergency assistance programs.

Established many years ago in Ocean County New Jersey, Solutions to End Poverty Soon (STEPS) has been providing as well as arranging assistance to those in need. Using funds raised from the sale of goods at the thrift store, donations, as well as government grants, this is what allows the charity to meet some of the needs of the working poor Ocean County.

More details on the programs are below. However the thrift store will try to sell name brand clothing, kitchen supplies, furniture, jewelry and household items at reduced prices. They have an extensive food pantry that supports a number of families every month, and some income qualified families can get financial aid from Solutions to End Poverty Soon. All of this is done as the result of the staff, which is made up of part and full time workers as well as volunteers.

Thrift stores and food pantries

Volunteers from the community help man these two facilities. They do everything from passing out dozens of bags of food to working the cash registers at the thrift store. The individuals work with STEPS staff to keep the centers clean, stock the pantry, and more.

Both of these rely on donors. The people will give non-profits their surplus household items like clothing & furniture, donate groceries, electronic, surplus pastries or bread, and more. All of this is done so centers like the STEPS thrift store can resell them at a reasonable price.

When something is sold, the money goes to fund the operations of the charity. These donations of surplus goods are used to generate funds to help this community pay living expenses or offer job placement services. The programs allow Solutions to End Poverty Soon to help neighbors in need.

Adopt a Family is a tool in the region. Donors from Ocean County can provide gift cards, gift certificates, new clothes, and/or new Christmas toys to children for all age groups. In some cases, Adopt a Family will help the entire home too, including children, teens, parents, and seniors. Some of what is needed includes new coats, gloves, stockings to be filled with goodies, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, coloring books, stickers, or games.





Financial support

Homelessness Prevention is paid for using grants from private agencies (such as the United Way) and public sources (including the federal government ESG). STEPS may be able to, in some cases, prevent evictions and end homelessness.

The program provides free mediation to help both landlord and the tenants find a solution. There is also mediation for homeowners/mortgage holders. This service will ideally help find a conflict over back rent or mortgage owned, including the possibility of payment plans.

Some Ocean County tenants or homeowners may be able to receive emergency financial assistance to pay a portion of arrearages on rent or a mortgage. There may also be funds for security deposits or energy bills to those in the process of an eviction or searching for income qualified people seeking new housing that live in Ocean County. The program covers families, singles (including parents with a child, and the elderly.

Certain income and other requirements apply. Some of the conditions include.

-Documentation is needed from the applicant verifying non reoccurring hardship.
-Applicants need to have a limited income, but it is usually around less than 60% of the state median income adjusted for family size.
-The family's monthly bills, including rent/mortgage, food, energy, and medical must be affordable in future months.
-Solutions to End Poverty Soon will require proof of income, residency, and copies of eviction or disconnection notices.

Funded through the federal government, the Weatherization Assistance Program helps improve the energy-efficiency of the homes of low-income homeowners and renters in Ocean County. This works by providing free services that enable households to lower utility bills, reduce energy use and gain greater self-sufficiency. It is often combined with direct financial aid from other federal programs such as LIHEAP for paying heating bills.





Program services from weatherization incorporate Insulation to Walls, Attic, Floors, Foundation, Window and Door Audit, Attic Ventilation. There are also steps to reduce Air Leakage Reduction, installation of Smoke Detectors, and also a free Furnace Tune and Clean if needed.

Additional STEPS programs

Empowerment Classes are available at Solutions to End Poverty Soon for families living in poverty, the unemployed, and struggling households. The sessions teach impoverished, needy women as well as men that are facing financial constraints as a single parent how to manage their households and stabilize them. With the challenging economy in Ocean County, many residents can benefit from this service.

The charity partners with groups to provide these men, women, and parents with necessary information and life skills such as how to manage and budget their money, how to open a savings account, ways to budget and cut expenses, and how to restore their credit. Other advice is given as needed as well.

STEPS has information on a program known as Summer Youth employment, which is available as a service from local agencies. It is for teenagers as well as high school or college students under the age of 21. The non-profit, in partnership with other groups, will try to place them at positions across Ocean County or other towns in New Jersey they can earn a small salary and gain work experience. The jobs may be at local non-profits, government offices such as libraries, churches, or charity groups.

The location offers most of this aid from referrals. It is recommended to call in advance to see if qualified and if funds are available. The main address is in Lakewood New Jersey, or dial (732) 367-1640.




By Jon McNamara

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