Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA).

The non-profit Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency provides support in the counties of Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren Counties. Most of the financial aid they offer, such as Emergency Solutions Grants for rent, come from government funding. However they can also help families apply for other support, such as food from a local pantry and more.

The organization provides a variety of needed services when it comes to preventing hunger and homelessness. One of them, the WIRC-CAA Food Pantry, is stocked with goods donated by community members and commodities provided through the federal government. In addition, the local group Hunters Helping the Hungry supplements the non-profit's pantry’s shelves with meats and dairy goods that is processed at area lockers. The Pantry is open from 9 am to 3 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The WIRC-CAA clothing closet, or Non-Food Pantry, provides hygiene items. These include diapers, cleaning supplies, clothing, school supplies and other essential items to households in crisis. The hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 12:30 pm.

Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency Homeless Assistance assists qualifying residents who are at risk of eviction or foreclosure. This works by providing emergency housing, as well as financial assistance with mortgage or rent payments. They may also be help for heating or paying utility bills to those who are homeless or at risk.

Available resources include ESG - Emergency Solutions Grant. This is a federal government homelessness prevention services for households who would otherwise be evicted without help. ESG also provides rapid rehousing as well as money, or loans, for security deposits or first months rent for homeless clients.

Continuum of Care, including transitional housing, case management, and supportive services are available in counties such as Henderson or Hancock. This is for homeless single individuals or families. All of this works in combination to provide a more stable foundation that allows Western Illinois Regional Council clients to focus on resolving the issues that caused them to become homeless.





The WIRC-CAA Homebuyer/Rehabilitation Assistance Program offers low-income residents an opportunity to purchase affordable homes. Participating local banks in Illinois or other lenders furnish up to 80% of program financing. To be eligible, the potential homebuyer is required to meet income guidelines. They also need to follow procedural requirements, and maintain the residence.

The state of Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists low-income clients who are having difficulty managing their winter energy costs by making a one-time bill payment to the utility on their behalf. This is available in all counties, including Warren and Henderson.

Determination of the grant paid out for heating bills is determined based on many factors. This is according to family size, fuel type, household income and geographic location in Illinois. LIHEAP household income guidelines must be met to be eligible for assistance. There are many other benefits to the Illinois LIHEAP energy assistance program.

The Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency Home Weatherization Program provides free energy-efficient, money-saving measures to the homes of low-income residents. The purpose is to make homes more comfortable to live in. Other benefits will be the home will be more safe and healthy.

This WIRC-CAA service works by eliminating air infiltration and heat waste, and at the same time limiting costs. Depending upon circumstances and the condition of the dwelling, available services include Installing Weatherstrip, Heating System Repair or Replacement, Caulking, Insulating Attics and Walls, and also Window and Door Repairs.

The goal of the Home Modification Program is to make it possible for seniors aged 62 and older, as well as those with disabilities, to continue to live as independently as possible in their own homes. This Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency is accomplished through the provision of necessary minor home modifications of the homes that enhance accessibility and improve safety.




Another option from Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency is the state of Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) sponsored Single Family Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program. The non-profit works with local contractors to provide eligible homeowners with necessary  repairs and improvements. The aim is to eliminate safety and health issues, fix building code violations, and preserve the dwellings’ long-term integrity.

Scholarships from WIRC-CAA are for individuals who desire to further their education at Illinois community colleges, vocational schools, universities, or local colleges. The program is open to residents of Henderson, McDonough, Hancock and Warren counties, who will ultimately be looking for employment in high-need fields.

Scholarship funds, or in some cases grants, may be used to pay for tuition, fees, textbooks, and supplies, or for room and board on campus. So many bills are covered by this service. For more information, please call 309-837-2997.

Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood development program for preschool-age children from financially disadvantaged families in Hancock, Warren, and nearby towns. It is also for children with disabilities. Children’s immediate families, especially parents, are encouraged to help and participate in Head Start activities.

The WIRC-CAA Head Start program provides free comprehensive educational services to pregnant women and children from birth to age five, including those with multiple special needs or a disability. The program currently benefits hundreds of infants, toddlers, preschool children, and pregnant women in the multiple county service area. Funding for both Head Start and the other option, Head Start 0-5, is provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA) and the Project Santa Service is for the Christmas season. The agency recognizes the financial difficulties low-income families as well as the underemployed face during the holiday season.





To help such families provide a joyful Christmas for their children, Project Santa networks with area churches, schools, social service agencies, and health departments to identify eligible families and offer them access to Christmas help. Project Santa continues to grow, expand its sponsorship program, and increase community participation in its activities.

There are several counties supported by Western Illinois Regional Council Community Action Agency. For more details, the main office is at 223 S. Randolph, Macomb, IL 61455-2209, telephone 309-837-2997.

By Jon McNamara

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