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Worcester Community Action Council assistance programs

The non-profit Worcester Community Action Council (WCAC) offers a wide range of assistance programs to the low income as well as people living in/or near poverty. There are free government grants for paying utility or heating bills, GED and job training, housing resources, financial aid for bills and other resources.

The organizations supports the entire community. This includes the Massachusetts towns of Auburn, Boylston, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Horden, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Oxford, Southbridge, Spencer, Webster as well as Worcester.

WCAC utility and energy bill programs

Several difference Fuel and Energy Bill programs are offered by WCAC. They assist renters and homeowners with paying utility bills (past due), coordinate emergency repair or replacement of heating systems, help with winter heating bills and other financial aid. Staff can also work with your utility company to try to get a low income household with forgiveness credits on their account and monthly payment assistance.

WCAC’s Fuel Assistance Programs provide cash grants and financial assistance to struggling households with the lowest incomes and highest average energy and heating costs. This Fuel Assistance Program, which is mainly funded by the federal government, is designed to provide short term relief to those Worcester County households that are most vulnerable to high home heating costs, such as the disabled and seniors.

Conservation is a focus. They also assist in upgrading or replacing light bulbs, fixtures, and refrigerators for homeowners and/or renters. Different options are listed below.

AMP, or Appliance Management Program, helps customers with an R-2 rating on their bill to replace their freezer, refrigerator, or appliances. It is also offered through National Grid. Your energy manager can provide more information and will also offer details on water conservation and energy saving devices to help households save money.

The federal government designed and funded Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps both low income renters and homeowners to keep their homes heated by saving them money. Fuel assistance clients, whose income fall within the guidelines, may qualify for this conservation program.

 

 

 

In close partnership with local utility companies in Worcester and the Department of Energy (DOE), WCAC helps in installing free energy conservation measures in low-income and working poor homes throughout Central and Southern Worcester County. As part of this process, certified energy auditors conduct an in-depth audit and inspection of the homes for assessing the homeowners needs. Updates can include insulation, caulking, or window repairs.

Working with National Grid and maybe other utility companies, WCAC helps low-income households to upgrade their home or apartment from weatherization. This includes lighting fixtures, CFL light bulbs, freezers and refrigerators. Multi-family buildings in Massachusetts may also be eligible for government weatherization measures. Another key partner is the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Repair or replacement of heating systems is available from the Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task. This is an emergency program that uses government grants.

Social services and other resources

The government benefits and community assistance programs offered by Worcester Community Action Council provide assistance with SNAP (or food stamp) applications, linkages to needed services, free VITA income tax preparation and family support activities. This is offered in collaboration with Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. Case managers will advocate for services for the low income and less fortunate. The non-profit processes SNAP applications at 484 Main Street, 2nd floor, Worcester.

There is also cash assistance in Massachusetts that low income families can apply for. The Worcester Community Action Council can help clients use the money to pay for basic living needs, even including rent, housing, mortgages or food. Other bills can be paid for as well. Find details on cash assistance MA.

 

 

 

 

IDA /  Individual Development Account helps families and individuals in saving money and building their assets. IDA offers a matching grant on money saved. The funds can be used to pay for a down-payment on a house, education, college costs, and/or starting a business.

Credits on taxes are available as part of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It is for both low and moderate income residents. WCAC can provide more information on this and they also organize the Earned Income Tax Program for the City of Worcester and nearby towns. Clients can also get help in completing and filing taxes from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).

Budgeting, credit repair, and free financial literacy support is available from More Than Wheels, which is a local non-profit. Get help in rebuilding and improve scores from financial fitness training, credit repair workshops, and sessions from More Than Wheels.

Low income families can get financial crisis planning as well as long term support too. Advisors will take a holistic look at the clients budget, expenditures, and income (as well as investments) to find a solution. WCAC staff can help facilitate this. Read about locating a financial advisor for low income.

Educational programs in Worcester County

Teenagers and youth in age group of 14 to 24 can take advantage of the help of the training and employment programs offered by the non-profit WCAC agency. Assistance includes job and internship placement assistance, GED preparation, pre-employment skills, education and free career counseling, life skills workshops, summer job opportunities and case management. General Education and Development Preparation (GED) program is a key resource for adults and youth.

These programs help participants in gaining the skills for the competitive job market. It will prepare clients for further education or training. Participants will be offered with educational and developmental classes that will focus on computer literacy, literature and arts, life skills, health awareness, and social sciences. Get training including for basic math, literacy, ESL, and other topics.

Job programs, including for people with no experience, may be a solution. The Worcester Community Action Council works with corporations, small businesses and even non-profits in Worcester County to try to place people. The jobs can be for new grads with no experience, people re-entering the work force, the elderly and more. More on jobs with no experience.

The Head Start program operate in the Massachusetts towns of Spencer, Oxford and Southbridge. There is part time, full and partial year programs. These are offered as center-based programs which provide free health and nutrition services, developmentally appropriate curricula, breakfast, lunch and snacks, family services, and special education opportunities. The Head Start classrooms are also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

 

 

 

 

The very similar Early Head Start program operates as a free home-based model. The Worcester Community Action Council works with partners such as Tri-County YMCA on this.

Find assistance and apply to Worcester Community Action Council

The main office of the Worcester Community Action Council is at 484 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01608. Call (508) 754-1176. If you need information on the National Grid Energy Wise Program, dial 508-754-1176.

 

By Jon McNamara

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