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RRACAP programs warm homes and hearts

Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 12:37 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 3:17 p.m. CDT

The Red Rock Community Action Program, Inc. is here to help battle poverty in Jasper County as well as in the surrounding areas that encompass the RRACAP communities. Heading the front locally are Jasper County Director Amy Hansen and Amber Dahlman, who is in charge of outreach.

“Right now what we have going is the Energy Assistance Program,” Hansen said. “Which is for low income families. In the event that they are approved, it allots a dollar amount to go toward their main heat source in their home.”

For a household of one person, said person must make no more than $16,755 to qualify. The amounts vary depending on household size, but the other qualifiers remain the same. There must be proof of income for all house members over the age of 19. Social Security numbers for all members of the household, three months’ worth of recent check stubs or an award letter from Social Security or a recent tax return form.

RRACAP also offers a rental fund, but unfortunately they don’t have the funding for it this year.

“We just ran out of the rental fund,” Hansen said. “We’re hoping to get more, but they haven’t told us anything additional on that yet. It (the fund) assisted low income families with a one-time rent (payment) to help them get back on their feet. It was just for a month, but then we ran out of that in November.”

The program was a yearly program, and participants had to apply each year that it was offered if they wanted to benefit from it. In the Jasper County office, Dahlman was in charge of that program before it ended. Hansen, who is in her first year as the county director, writes the grants and heads up the Energy Assistance Program.

“We run the energy assistance until April 30, then we start back up again in October,” Hansen said. “If we have the funding we can help people with disconnects during the summer months. It just depends on the funding. If we don’t, then we’ll start doing stuff for next year and put people on the Early Applicants (list). It’s for folks that have applied this year that are on a fixed income and they get their applications a little early and make sure their information is correct and get them ready for October.”

RRACAP also took part in the Embrace Iowa program. According to iowacommunityaction.org, “...Embrace Iowa is a program that takes place annually and provides a benefit for up to $500 for emergency relief for households in need.”

“With the Embrace Iowa program, just in our county, I think we had five recipients,” said Hansen. “It doesn’t go any higher than $500. I know we helped a couple ladies get beds for their children and an elderly woman, with really low income, get some repairs for her care.”

The group has its foot in all aspects of helping out the community. Besides energy costs and rent assistance they also have a program called R.A.Y.S. that specifically targets low income youths for help. R.A.Y.S. stands for Red Rock Area Youth Services.

“The R.A.Y.S. program will help up to a $100 dollars for income eligible families for after school or extra-curricular activities,” said Hansen. “We’ve helped with dance classes, soccer, T-ball, baseball and we were just told we can help with Boy Scouts. They (RRACAP main office) that we help up to middle school aged kids. But I don’t think they would turn down a family that was in need of cleats or something forw a sporting event.”

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