In West Virginia, community services that assist in eliminating poverty are provided by 16 community action agencies through annual federal Community Services Block Grants administered by the State.
The federal block grants are given to the Office of Economic Opportunity by the Office of Community Services of the Administration of Children and Families, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 2009-2010, additional funds were distributed to the community action agencies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (CSBG ARRA).
The block grant funds projects such as: employment barrier elimination services, including job training and placement, transportation/materials assistance, and childcare; food programs that feed children, seniors, and physically challenged individuals; community health centers employing an additional 13 jobs, preserving three jobs, and providing affordable health-care services to low-income individuals and families; housing counseling, including buyer education, financial budgeting, and lender selection; school and public transportation through the purchase and alternative vehicles and transportation plans; green job training that provides educational awareness about the merging industry and specific job training; and Emergency Services providing rent and utilities assistance to avoid eviction or shutting off electricity, gas or water.
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Homeless / Housing Services
The Office of Economic Opportunity manages State of West Virginia grants in accordance with grant guidelines to address emergency shelter issues for West Virginians who are in need. Each year, the State of West Virginia receives about $9 million in new federal funds under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
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The West Virginia Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity manages the state’s low-income weatherization assistance program, using U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) appropriations, Low Income Energy & Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) fuel assistance funds, and utility partnership funding. GOEO contracts statewide with 12 local community action agencies that employ trained weatherization crews to install in low-income homes energy efficiency and conservation measures prescribed by energy audits and diagnostic testing.
Weatherization examples include, but are not limited to, installing insulation, reducing air-infiltration, performing heating and cooling tune-ups and modifications, and when appropriate, replacing heating units for energy efficiency and safety. Client education is provided on use and maintenance of the weatherization measures.
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