RCAA Empowering and Improving Lives

By Shirley Hurley, Two Rivers Tribune

The Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) provides locally based services to low and moderate income residents of Humboldt County with long term goals of developing programs for people to become self-sufficient and improve their lives.

The non-profit’s funding comes from various state, federal, and private foundations. This funding is used to help prevent poverty by addressing the causes of poverty; involving the community, and creating opportunities.

One program is the Housing Rehabilitation Program, a division that began in 1984 to help low-income homeowners afford and maintain their homes. Eligible homeowners within designated areas can apply to receive financial assistance in the form of deferred loans.

RCAA began was the Energy Demonstration Project which quickly grew to provide weatherization home energy assistance. This program helps households in need of replacing broken windows, broken doors, replacing standard light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs, replacing standard shower head and faucet aerators with water saving devices, heating/cooling, and appliances; carbon monoxide testing of all combustion appliances, and installation of carbon monoxide detector, to make homes energy efficient. This service is for owner-occupied stick built homes, owner-occupied manufactured homes on owned land, and owner-occupied manufactured homes in a mobile home park.

“Our RCAA crews employ the latest technology to identify the most energy saving methods for reducing energy waste, air pollution and related energy costs for the client. Crews also test appropriate appliances for health and safety issues,” said Antoinette Clark, of RCAA.

The Energy Environmental Services Division is committed to supporting low to moderate income households to reduce their energy burden, and improve the health and safety conditions of their homes with energy efficient retrofits, health and safety repairs, utility and energy assistance, lead based paint abatement, and client education and advocacy.

Another household service available through RCAA is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which assists eligible households with payment or purchases of electricity, propane, natural gas, heating oil, or firewood.  The program is based on eligibility through household income and family size. See sidebar for details.

RCAA also has a Property Management program that began in the early 1990s which operates through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to acquire subsidized affordable apartment buildings, and affordable homes. The program now manages over 80 residential units.

“RCAA owns and manages rental properties in Eureka, McKinleyville and Fortuna, which includes studios, one, two, and three bedroom units. Our funding is associated with Home Investment Partnerships Program that assists us in providing safe, drug-free, and affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families,” Clark said.

Another RCAA service is the Family Services Division. The program started in the early ‘90s when RCAA operated Humboldt County’s winter homeless shelter. The service now provides the largest homeless shelter in the County with 81 beds and two transitional living facilities for homeless families and for women escaping domestic violence. The Humboldt Housing Now program provides short-term rental assistance for hundreds of households at-risk of eviction or who are currently homeless.

Youth Services

The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) is for youth to access when homeless, fleeing abusive or dangerous situations, or experiencing severe family conflict. YSB provides a variety of services to support youth with addressing the conflict in their lives including street outreach and drop-in service, temporary emergency shelter, and a long term transitional housing.

The Launch Pad is a temporary residential program that allows stays up to a maximum of 21 days, with the goal of family reunification. The majority of all sheltered youth return to their parent/guardian’s home after a brief intervention by YSB. If the possibility of returning home is not an option, YSB will explore other options.

Launch Pad participant Ashley, 16, said, “The Launch Pad opens your eyes to the real world,” Andrea, 16, said, “The Launch Pad shows me how to save money so that some day I can get my own place.” And participant Mike, 17, said, “The Launch Pad to me is about having a bed to sleep in and food to eat. It was somewhere other than the streets to try to make something of my life.”

Other youth programs and services RCAA provides that helps is The Raven Project whose goal is to improve mental and physical well-being, provide basic survival supplies, create a network of resources and referrals, support and advocate, provide positive role models, and employ the at risk youth within the area of Humboldt County.

For more information about RCAA and its programs call (707) 269-2024 or (707) 269-2001, or visit www.rcaa.org offices are located 934 G Street in Eureka and 539 T Street in Eureka. They are open from 8:30 am to 5 pm.

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January 24th, 2012

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