With CSBG Funds In Danger, Needy Utahns Rally to Save Lifeline Programs

As many local state and Federal programs face huge cuts, one vital piece of funding coming from the Feds and put into the hands of local entities is also fighting for survival. Community Action Agencies and their partners provide vital services in the front lines of the long-running recession. Many public officials and local residents are unaware of the huge amount of resources CSBG funds and thus Community Action Agencies or CAAs provide. CSBG funds come from the federal government and are distributed by individual states.

 

Walk into the modest reception area of a Community Action Program and you will see the casualties of this recession. Young, single mothers comforting small children, an elderly couple whose dollar just doesn’t go far enough anymore to keep them alive, a struggling, middle-aged man who has been out of work for eight months and is now realizing he must re-tool his skills in order to find work to support his disabled daughter. Now there are new faces appearing in Community Action Agencies across the country. The formerly middle class who have been hit hard by job losses, lower pay, and under-employment are finding their way into CAAs and looking for a hand up to once again find financial stability.

 

Case workers at Salt Lake CAP (SLCAP) will tell you clients often cry when they find help at the agency. They cry with relief when they find out they can pick up emergency food, have someone help them re-write their resume, get some relief from high utility bills and keep warm from the cold Utah winters. Some of the neediest clients get a small amount of funds that will keep them from losing their modest apartments and keep them from being homeless.

 

CSBG funding or Community Service Block Grants fund Community Action Agencies and partner agency programs. CSBG funded programs are now facing their most challenging time.

 

 

Those Utah residents served by Community Action are rallying to save CSBG funding by writing their representatives and asking them to keep CSBG funds alive as well as sharing the challenges CSBG funds and CAAs have helped them conquer.

 

In Utah the local Community Action Program Salt Lake CAP coordinates with other agencies to provide a wide range of services. CSBG funds distributed to Salt Lake CAP fund the majority of staff, rent and operations of the 6 food pantries CAP runs. Those food pantries distribute over 200,000 lbs of food each month to needy Utah families.

 

CSBG funds go to pay for case managers and operations for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program and function in partnership with the state, city and county programs. Last year alone the Salt Lake CAP Rental Assistance Program assisted 433 working families with children.

 

Salt Lake CAP has also used CSBG funds to partner with the United Way to open a badly needed food pantry in Grantsville.

 

Salt Lake CAP has additionally partners with the LDS Church and  the Department of Workforce Services to promote self-reliance by assessing the immediate barriers and risk factors to stable housing and prioritize the interventions for 47,000 Utah households each year. The Housing Authority of Salt Lake County partners with SLCAP’s housing program to reduce the number of evictions from public and Section 8 Housing and provided a case manager that worked with 385 households at high risk for losing their housing or subsidy vouchers.

 

In addition to Salt Lake CAP Catholic Community Services and Utahns Against Hunger also run some programs with Community Service Block Grant funds. CCS receives funds to assist families with emergency needs. Utahns Against Hunger utilizes CSBG funds. These programs help prevent homelessness.

 

Now, more than ever there is a changing demographic of Utah families visiting and utilizing CSBG funded programs. For the first time many middle class families are finding themselves in need of assistance or at risk of losing a home as a result of the prolonged recession. Salt Lake CAP has recorded a record number of first time requests for assistance in the last year. CAAs  serve the other, the unfortunate but it really hits home just how vital these services are when the other is you, your neighbor, your parents, your child. Salt Lake CAP hopes Congress continues to fund CSBG.

 

Key Statistics from FY 2010 CABG Funding:

  • Salt Lake CAP & CSBG funding provided over 64,000 food orders to 103,000 individuals

 

  • 210 clients found employment due to their participation in the Employment Readiness Program

 

  • 1300 households received comprehensive housing counseling in delinquencies, default, foreclosure, reverse equity mortgages for seniors and pre-home purchases.

 

  • Using CSBG & ARRA funds, Salt Lake CAP hired five neighborhood specialists to explore to work in depth with food pantry clients and work with them individually to conquer barriers to self sufficiency and to find assistance for their immediate needs. 100 of these clients had acute medical problems that had gone unaddressed and SLCAP was able to help them find medical attention.

 

  • 433 families were stabilized through the Homeless Prevention Rapid Re-Housing Program. The program runs over an 89% success rate at preventing homelessness. It has been very successful.

 

  • Salt Lake CAP’s utility advocate worked with the Public Service Commission, the Office of Consumer Services, the Division of Public Utilities and Questar Gas to begin a $1.5 million energy assistance program for low-income customers

 

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