COMMUNITY SERVICES BLOCK GRANT
Heather Eldridge, Director of Community Services
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) provides funds to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities throughout the United States.
CSBG funding supports projects, as shown above in the pie chart, that:
In addition, discretionary grants are available at the statewide or local level, or for associations with demonstrated expertise in addressing the needs of low-income families, such as Community Action Agencies (CAAs).
With the support of CSBG funding, states and CAAs work together to achieve the following goals for low-income individuals:
Working together, agencies increase their capacity to achieve results. Partnerships among supporters and providers of services play a large role in the successful implementation of CSBG grants.
As a matter of helping those in poverty better utilize their resources, the Council provides CSBG funded supplemental food and utility assistance to those in need. Recipients must prove income eligibility. This assistance is funded by the Community Services Block Grant revenue and provides the opportunity for the poor to achieve dignity on their way toward self-sufficiency.
The Council operates an emergency Food Pantry that served a total of 310 people, 165 families, this current year. Items from the Food Pantry include, but are not limited to donated goods from collaboration members Mountaineer Food Bank and Huntington Area Food Bank.
The Family Day Care Food Program, headed by Ida Monroe, provides funds to child care providers to serve nutritious meals to the children of parents seeking employment or training to obtain a job. The program serves a total of 23 providers per month and over 50 children.
The Wholesale Buyers’ Club has a total of 45 participants. This program allows consumers to buy products in bulk at lower costs. Items purchased range from eggs to cleaning supplies. There are no requirements to participate in this program but it is primarily aimed at the low-income to help meet their family needs.
The Emergency Utilities Program has assisted 41 families and 95 individuals this year. This program assists low income families with termination notices of electric and water. The program also assists families with fuel, coal, or wood when an eligible consumer is in need.
As a matter of helping those in poverty better utilize their resources and obtain emergency assistance, the Council provides these supplemental food and utility programs. The majority of this assistance is funded by Community Services Block Grant revenue and provides the opportunity to help recipients meet their individual and family needs.
Council of the Southern Mountains maintains the McDowell County Federal Credit Union targeted toward the low-income that pays dividends on participant’s savings. The credit union also makes loans to low-income participants up to $500 to help them maintain their self-sufficiency. The credit union now has deposits of $25,000 and paid a dividend last year of 1.0%. This dividend helps the low income depositors make better use of their income. The credit union, with its own Board of Directors, presently has $11,748 in loans to mostly low-income individuals and $3,062 in deposits for participants in the Christmas Club. Again, these results help the low-income make better use of their available resources.
The Council of the Southern Mountains receives Emergency Food and Shelter Program Assistance in a collaborative with Catholic Charities and the Shelter Against Family Abuse (SAFE) of $11,492.00. This award is divided equally among the collaboration members and is used to provide food vouchers and utility assistance for eligible low-income families. This effort, with Council as the lead agency, helps the those in poverty make better use of their funds.
The Council of the Southern Mountains provides the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (V.I.T.A) program that resulted in 626 families being assisted with over $1,377,680 in State and Federal returns being generated for local tax payers at no charge to the low-income service recipients. The CSM staff are certified by the Internal Revenue Service and file the returns electronically. Tax payers report they have their refunds just as fast as any other way they have filed in the past and all of this is without charge to those families. . The number of people served and the amount of the refunds sets an internal record for the community action agency since the inception of the service. In a recent visit by an Internal Revenue Service representative, it was related that the agency is still third in the State of West Virginia in the number of returns and financial impact.
The latest figures on the average cost of a professional income tax preparer to handle a typical tax return was $273. This includes an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return, according to the National Society of Accountants. As a result, the Council of the Southern Mountains saved area residents $173,000 in tax preparation charges. This money goes directly back into the local economy and helps people during this economically distressed time.