DCA officials have sent application for federal grant to help low-income households

TRENTON – Officials from the Department of Community Affairs told the Joint Budget Oversight Committee Thursday morning that they submitted an application for a $16 million Community Services Block Grant that would provide funds to state-based agencies to deliver various services to low-income residents.

The money, which would be used for both 2012 and 2013, is used by 26 community action agencies around the state to provide employment, education, housing and nutrition programs, among other services, with the goal of the recipients rising out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. The Northwest Community Action Program, the Community Food Bank and Plainfield Action Services are examples of such CAAs.

The amount of money given to each program is based on the rate of poverty in the area and various performance measures of the agency.

In 2010, some 300,000 New Jersey residents were helped by CAAs, with 90,000 of them being children. To be eligible for assistance, a family of four has to earn just below $28,000.

Paul Stridick, director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources, outlined the following goals for the next two years:

1.)    Increase the number of self-sufficient households

2.)    Improving community conditions in low income areas by filling service gaps

3.)    Improve delivery of services

4.)    Collect data

5.)    Create partnership and replicate good programs

The community action agencies have made a positive impact, he said.

“It is truly making a difference for those desperately in need.”

Stridick said he’s hopeful the full amount will be approved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews all applications. If the full amount isn’t approved, Stridick said, “we have to sharpen our pencils.”

Of the money given to such programs, Stridick said, no more than 5 percent of it could be used for administrative purposes, which include staff and technology.

Officials are required to testify before state legislative committee whenever they submit the biennial application for the federal grant.

DCA officials have sent application for federal grant to help low-income households