We hear about the debates that go on in Washington DC about programs and their relevance or actual ability to be utilized.
There are two programs that are currently in operation offered through the Federal government with local agency help in obtaining the services that the money provided has been designated to provide.
School districts have promoted the first program and have provided information, however, sometimes these bits of information don’t get noticed with everything going on in busy lives.
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The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), provides eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills through participating companies. Twenty leading internet providers, including United Way partners Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, are participating in the program and offering ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30 per month. If eligible families pair their ACP benefit with one of these internet plans, they have the ability to receive high-speed internet at no cost.
There are three different ways to qualify for the ACP benefits, and households are eligible if they meet any one of the three qualifications listed: Their income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or, they meet the eligibility requirements for a participating broadband providers existing low-income internet program.
The final qualification is someone in the household participates in one of the following programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools, Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)., Lifeline, certain Tribal assistance programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
In today’s economy, saving money on any expense can make a big difference for a household or family. If one of these programs applies to you, it would be beneficial to follow-up by either going to this website: whitehouse.gov/getinternet/ or give a call to the Pocono Mountains United Way office at: 570-517-3953 for help .
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Assistance for local renters
The previously mentioned program is one that addresses a real need, but often there is one that is even larger, housing. There is a program currently available to residents called the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. To date, since the program was implemented by the Federal Government in light of the COVID emergency, more than 1600 households, equaling more than 4,600 residents locally have been helped.
The program started in May of 2021 but will be coming to a close soon, and there are still funds available to assist qualifying residents facing homelessness or utility shutoffs. The program has options for tenants to apply or landlords.
The program has options for assistance in filing. You may contact the program coordinator for Monroe County at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-243-6677. Or you can receive assistance through the Pocono Mountains United Way by contacting Todd Nemura, Director, ERAP Program – Pocono Mountains United Way, directly at 570-243-6689. Either agency can help you determine eligibility and assist you in filing for assistance. As with anything, there is a requirement for documentation required with a submission. Need to work with a computer, don’t forget that your local libraries are there with that help too!
For more housing crisis resources, go to bit.ly/3x6tIsH.
Crisis resources:Need housing help in northeast Pa.? Check out these available resources
— Debbie Kulick writes a weekly news column for the Pocono Record and Tri-County Independent. She serves on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as an EMT.