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Vermont community action agencies.

Low income families in Vermont receive assistance from community action agencies. The centers offer various assistance programs to residents, including employment services, job training, and emergency financial assistance and cash grants. Call an agency to meet with a case manager and to get more information on the programs administered.

Case management, financial counseling, and employment

Save money from the Individual Development Account (IDA). This is a matched savings program for working poor as well as low and moderate income clients. Some community action agencies will call this program the Assets for Opportunity. It allows residents of Vermont to deposit a pre-determined amount of money each month into a special savings account. Then the state will match a portion of their savings. Clients will be able to save money which can be used to help them pay for a home, business, or education.

Financial and economic literacy is offered as part of a workshop. Participants will be able to get free advice from credit counselors. Sessions include how to use savings tools, credit repair, personal money management, home ownership and small business development.

Outreach and case management services help lower income households by providing assistance to help people meet their basic needs. Staff from your local non-profit agency will also assist with resolving crises and to help individuals and families recognize their strengths.

Case managers will meet with people on a one-to-one basis and also coordinate group learning opportunities and workshops. The goal is to help people build on their ability to be self-reliant. Assistance involves getting to know and understand someone's past experiences, needs and hope for the future. Assistance can help with immediate crises and also encourage learning, skill building, higher income and increased economic independence. Also get referred to local non-profits and government assistance.

Tax Clinics can help people prepare and file their income taxes for free. In addition, staff and volunteers can help answer any tax questions and assist with setting any tax-related disputes with the state or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).




Family Community Support Services and programs are offered at most Vermont centers. Many representatives are well trained and can be experts at helping people who are having difficulty heating their homes, paying housing costs, facing overdue utility bills, or putting food on the table. Case managers also help people apply for a reverse housing mortgage, locate new affordable rental housing or find other government or private support.

Additional financial counseling and workshops include assistance with ordering and reading credit reports and scores, talking to and negotiating with creditors, understanding credit card terms, and overall repair of your financial condition. Reverse Mortgage Counseling is offered for seniors. Housing counselors will discuss program requirements, the financial implications and alternatives to obtaining a reverse mortgage.

Vermont Green is a statewide initiative that can help people start a career in a green industry through training, assessment, support, job placement and follow-up services. It is a public-private partnership giving clients skills and preparing them for a variety of green jobs such as energy-efficient building, construction and retrofit.

Head Start provides child care services and early education to pregnant families and women with children under the age of 5. A second option is for families with young toddlers and infants (ages birth to three), and they are served through Early Head Start.

Staff and teachers will help people identify family goals and then help find the resources people need to achieve success. Head Start in Vermont can offer early childhood education, family literacy activities, parent education and training, family health and nutrition resources, and parent leadership opportunities.

The program is federally-funded and is the leading national child and family development program. It offers comprehensive services for children and pregnant women. Most of the resources are meant to promote school readiness and include early education, health, nutrition, mental health, and even services for children with special needs.

Vermont grants and financial assistance

Community action agencies also help coordinate food and nutrition programs. They work with pantries, churches and other charities in order to help prevent hunger by offering emergency food assistance and surplus government commodities. Some items provided are from the USDA (Department of Agriculture) or other organizations. Staff and case managers also help with offering nutrition information, shopping tips and advice on how to reduce the risk of a food emergency.




The FARM TO FAMILY Program in Vermont provides coupons to people that they can use to redeem for fresh vegetables or fruit at dozens of farmers markets. A large percentage of markets in Vermont work with the state on this coupon program. In addition, those low income families that are enrolled in the Vermont Health Department WIC program may receive coupons or vouchers to be used for buying their groceries and perishable foodstuffs.

Heating and energy bill assistance is available in Vermont. There is both the Utility Assistance and Crisis Fuel program, both of which provide government grants as part of LIHEAP. They help with deliveries of fuel, heating oil or help people to avoid power disconnection.

  • Seasonal fuel assistance pays for a variety of home heating fuels including wood or oil. Financial assistance is for Vermont homeowners or renters who pay for heat or it can even support those who have heat included in their monthly rent payment.
  • Furnace Repair and Replacement program is more limited. The government may have some funds to pay for a new furnace, heating system, or boiler if it can’t be repaired.
  • Crisis fuel assistance is offered to customers who are faced with a disconnection during the winter months or is for those who have run out of oil.
  • Other options include WARMTH, ShareHeat, and the Power Partners Program. These are offered by energy companies (so call them directly) and can help pay the bills when faced with an emergency.

These state programs can pay for the purchase of your primary source of your heat, such as electricity, kerosene, natural gas, oil, propane, or wood. Grants can also help you pay for the purchase of electricity if it is required to run your heating system.

Many community action agencies also have staff that can help people negotiate payment plans with your natural gas or electric company to prevent disconnection.

Rental assistance and homeless prevention is offered. Many things cause it, such as reduction of a household's income, disputes with property owners, generally high housing costs and domestic violence. Case managers counsel households and clients on housing options, educate renters on their rights and responsibilities and coordinate with other non-profit providers in the community. The objective is to help individuals and families pay for or find housing. Some qualified households are assisted with furniture and other items as well. Services include tenant education and counseling, intervention / prevention of evictions, temporary housing, and budget counseling.

Emergency Housing Assistance can help people facing eviction or locate new housing units. Family Service’s staff have the experience and knowledge to be effective advocates for you in difficult situations. Case managers can help people work with their landlord to reach an agreement and get back on track to a stable situation. Outreach workers can also help find out about and apply for Section 8 vouchers or apartments and homes. Many offices also have staff that provide information about tenant rights and responsibilities, referrals to local area shelters, and landlord lists.

The so called Housing Stabilization Program can address and solve the longer-term cycles of homelessness and housing instability. The main focus is to provide intensive interventions to stabilize households and prevent homelessness. Counselors work with struggling tenants. Resources can assist people with unmanageable debt, lack of asset-building capacity or resources.

If your family or you are facing eviction, foreclosure, or are currently homeless, then counselors can provide support. Rental and mortgage assistance, security deposits, and other financial assistance and cash grants may be available based upon location, need, income eligibility, availability of funds, and other considerations. Work with a case manager on setting housing goals. Staff can help you work with your landlord and provide you with information about budgeting counseling and tenants' rights and responsibilities.





Transportation is offered by the Vermont Car Coach Project and other services. Most community agencies will help people find reliable transportation to improve employment opportunities. Staff can help clients address credit issues, find a safe and reliable vehicle for sale, and assist you with purchasing and financing. The car usually needs to be used for employment or job training.

3SquaresVT is the Food Stamp Outreach program. It can be combined with the Vermont Farm to Family resource. The program will help put food on the table of families and supplement nutritional needs. Get help and information on food stamps.

Thrift Stores are located across Vermont. A number are good quality, secondhand thrift stores that sell gently used goods, clothing, and more to the public.

Weatherization is the state and federal government’s main conservation program. Professionally trained contractors, who work with your local community action agency, will evaluate your home and design a plan that will help you save energy, save you money, and make you more comfortable.

Some of the free energy efficiency measures that can take place include sealing air leaks and drafts, improving the heating system efficiency by replacing the unit, clean, tune up and perform minor repairs. Other updates can include installing insulation where there isn't any or where inadequate amounts exist.

Locations of community action centers in Vermont

BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont
Address - 60 Center Street
Rutland, VT 05701
Telephone: (802) 775-0878
Covers both Rutland and Bennington.
Examples of programs include heating bill help from LIHEAP and crisis funds as well as weatherization. The Vermont non-profit also offers emergency funds or loans to pay rent to prevent homelessness, landlord mediation, free food, and outreach. More details on programs from BROC Community Action.

Central Vermont Community Action Council, Inc.
Location is 195 US Rt. 302-Berlin
Barre, Vermont 05641-2267
Telephone: (802) 479-1053
Low income families in Washington, Lamoille and Orange can apply to this non-profit.

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
P.O. Box 1603
Burlington, VT 05402-1603
(802) 862-2771
Covers the regions and counties of Chittenden, Franklin, and Addison Grand Isle. The main community action agency for the state. Apply for heating bill assistance/LIHEAP, emergency housing assistance, and food. Other programs in high demand include Head Start and food stamps.

Northeast Kingdom Community Action, Inc.
70 Main Street, P.O. Box 346
Newport, VT 05855
Call (802) 334-7316
Counties covered include Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia

Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA)
91 Buck Drive
Westminster, Vermont 05158
Telephone number - (802) 722-4575
Windham and Windsor County.

By Jon McNamara

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