The goal of community services is to reduce the incidence of poverty in Vermont by providing crisis services for families and individuals in need; developing longer-term, asset-building strategies; revitalizing low-income communities; and empowering low-income families and individuals to become fully self-sufficient.
Within this broad anti-poverty framework, a variety of state and federal funding sources are aimed at the following specific program areas:
Community Services Block Grant
OEO administers the Community Services Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through five Community Action Agencies that provide direct services to Vermonters.
In federal fiscal year 2007, Vermon'ts Community Action Agencies provided direct services to 44,403 lower-income Vermonters. Direct services include emergency food shelves, utility assistance, free tax preparation, job counseling, nutrition education, housing placement and retention, advocacy, and other assistance.
A combination of federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding and a state Homeless Shelters and Services General Fund appropriation supports approximately 40 homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, youth shelters, and other organizations that provide services to the homeless or prevention assistance to precariously-housed families who would otherwise become homeless.
In state fiscal year 2007, 3,463 individuals spent at least one night in a Vermont emergency shelter; 888 of them (26%) were children under the age of 18. The total number of homeless Vermonters staying in emergency shelter is down 11% from last year, due in part to strong prevention efforts at shelters and other community-based programs across the state. During this same time period, homelessness was prevented for another 6,927 households who sought prevention assistance through these agencies. Of these 17,620 persons who were spared homelessness, 54% were children under 18.
Emergency Food and Shelter
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awards Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding to Vermont through OEO, which distributes these supplemental funds to roughly two dozen non-profit organizations, such as homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and community food shelves serving low-income Vermonters.
For More Information
Not all programs are offered in all areas. Contact your local Community Action Agency to learn what programs they offer in your community.