Community Services Division
WELCOME TO COMMUNITY ACTION !
The Human Services Department serves as the Community Action Agency for Winnebago and Boone Counties – one of the nearly 1,000 Community Action Agencies throughout the country working to create opportunities for people facing the challenges related to the effects of poverty. As the Community Services Division, we work to improve the conditions in which people live, support self-sufficiency, and help to form strong and healthy individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities.
Community Services offers programs in Housing, Community Health and Prevention, Energy and Emergency Services. Programs can change depending on community need, available funds and may be seasonal. See the menu on the left to learn more about these programs.
HOMELESS POINT IN TIME COUNTS HELP TO END HOMELESSNESS
Beginning at 3:00pm January 22, 2018 and ending 3pm January 23, Community Action staff, Rock River Homeless Coalition members and volunteers will visit shelters, emergency rooms, parks, abandoned buildings and other locations in Boone and Winnebago Counties looking for homeless persons for the HUD required ANNUAL POINT IN TIME COUNT OF THE HOMELESS. The goal is to count the number of people experiencing homelessness as well as enroll them in the Coordinated Entry System (CES), a single point of entry program where needs are assessed and efforts to permanently house them can be made.
For more information, click here 2018 Homeless Point in Time Count
In addition – From January 15-31, 2018, Community Action staff and Rock River Homeless Coalition members will be conducting the Homeless Youth Point in Time (PIT) count in the same area. Youth ages 16-24 who are not living with their parents or guardians, who are also literally homeless (living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, and places not meant for human habitation) and who are at-risk of homelessness (couch surfing, living place to place, or in unsafe living situations) will be counted. To participate in the on-line survey for the count, youth can text “survey” or “help” to 779-208-0710 or they can go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2018YouthSurvey
For more details, click here.. 2018 Homeless Youth Count
WARMING CENTERS in Winnebago and Boone counties are available during the 2017-2018 winter season – providing warmth during extreme cold for residents with inadequate heat or those who turn their thermostat down to save energy costs (do not lower your thermostat below 60 degrees). Residents are encouraged to ensure their senior and other vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbors are safe during times of extreme cold. Churches and other organized groups are also encouraged to check on the well-being of their members. In the event of a severe weather crisis, more sites may be opened as needed. See attached list for sites and other assistance that my be available. WARMING CENTERS MEDIA RELEASE
ARE YOU BEHIND ON YOUR ELECTRIC BILL BECAUSE OF A RECENT HARDSHIP? Beginning January 2, 2018, ComEd will again offer their Residential Hardship Program at our office which can provide up to $500 on the electric bills of eligible residents of Winnebago and Boone Counties who can document a recent hardship. Click on the Media Release and program info below to learn how to apply.
SAVE ON YOUR ENERGY BILLS! LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) can pay a one-time benefit (DVP) directly to your energy companies for you, or directly to eligible renters if all energy costs are included in your rent. You may also have the option of signing up for PIPP at your LIHEAP appointment – PIPP is a monthly budget plan where if you make your payments on time, it will forgive a portion of your past due balances. Click here for application information! 2018 LIHEAP information
FREE TRAINING FOR IN-DEMAND JOBS! If you are income qualified and have a high school diploma or GED, you may be eligible to receive FREE TUITION for COLD FORMING or COMPUTER NUMERICAN CONROL (CNC) training – or for a training of your choice that meets our criteria. Click here for more information. 2017 JOB TRAINING INFO
CONTINUUM OF CARE PROGRAM is a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provides funding for efforts by nonprofit providers and governments to quickly re-house homeless residents to minimize trauma and dislocation; promotes access to and effective utilization of mainstream programs; and optimizes self-sufficiency among those experiencing homelessness. On September 8, 2017, a committee of the Rock River Homeless Coalition ranked and reviewed projects submitted for the IL501 Rockford/Winnebago/Boone Counties Continuum of Care application to HUD.
Community Action – in ACTION !
In 2015, Community Action administered Project 100, a program that gave 19 hard-to-employee ex-offenders, two of whom were homeless, a chance to learn new skills and use them in removing years of debris and materials from the 100-year-old Barber-Colman factory complex on Rock Street in Rockford. The participants received certifications in asbestos removal, lead paint abatement, and gained new skills such as operating a skid loader and other deconstruction practices, and also recycled and repurposed found materials. The results were beyond the tangible product – hard work, responsibility, new learning, group support and the opportunity to create something of value led to the program’s success – for everyone involved.
An exciting opportunity is now in the works to further improve this area by transforming the Barber-Colman complex into Rock Valley College’s new manufacturing campus as well as space for industrial and commercial development.
Learn more about Project 100 here! https://vimeo.com/161833744
In 2017, Food Network magazine named Rockford Roasting Company as one of Food Star Alton Brown’s top 8 coffee shops in the U.S. The brew café has been roasting and serving high quality coffee since 2014 at their successful 206 N. Main location in downtown Rockford. “They’re genuinely educated about their profession and are using parts of the bean (cascara) that I’ve never heard of before for iced teas,” said Brown, who hosted an event at the Coronado in April and visited the shop while here.
Rockford Roasting was able to launch their business with a loan from Community Action/CSBG Small Business Loan Program. Geared to stimulate the economy and grow jobs, the CSBG SBL program offered market rate loans for business expansion and start-up which resulted in the hiring of low-income persons.
Successful Urban Garden began with Community Action Funds. In 2013, Ken Yatte Moore was unemployed and rarely ate vegetables, but a community garden helped him change both. Today, Moore, now 40 pounds lighter, works full-time managing the Blackhawk Courts Farms and Garden. This Urban Agriculture Project is a half-acre urban farm nestled in the midst of a Rockford Housing Authority public housing site. Started in 2010 with “seed” money provided by the Community Action Community Gardens program, the program is now a partnership with Angelic Organics, Zion Outreach and the Rockford Housing Authority and provides summer jobs, learning experiences, healthy eating habits and sells freshly grown produce to the community. Receiving a National Award of Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials for Program Innovation in 2017, the program demonstrates a locally initiated and implemented solution that addresses community needs and opportunities with creativity, cooperation and innovation.
“It’s definitely such a valuable resource to us, so we do everything we can to keep it,” said Camp Winnebago Assistant Program Director Jessica Dobson…..(two kids) don’t know what the other kid is going through…there’s the added security of “I don’t need to worry about my friends making fun of me for not having food.”
“It was eye opening… Even though I work with people in poverty every day, this made it even clearer how much more complicated the road blocks can be – and more and more often out of the people’s control…” Michelle Lindstedt, Community Action Staff
Community Action helped coordinate a response to the needs of the residents involved in the Jackson Street Apartment Fire Belvidere fire.
“Cling to the people who want to see you make it and who really believe in you ” – Tony Frazier, a formerly homeless youth who found assistance through Community Action.