Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) hosted Project SOAR – a massive community services, opportunities, assistance and resources fair – on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at Fondren Hall in Jackson, Mississippi. More than 300 people attended the fair and received a wealth of information on education, finance, health, social and legal services from speakers and exhibitors.
HCHRA organized Project SOAR to promote awareness about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and make it readily available to anyone in need who met the qualifications for the program. LIHEAP is a federal grant that offers assistance to help low-income families pay their energy bills for heating or cooling their homes, and offers additional help in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs for households in immediate danger of being without heating or cooling. LIHEAP is funded by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and is awarded to HCHRA by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. HCHRA administers LIHEAP for the entire Hinds county area. The assistance provided through LIHEAP allows families to use their limited income to address other household needs and create greater stability in the home.
HCHRA has seen a tremendous need for LIHEAP. The need is so great, in fact, they exhausted all of the 2018 funds months before the year ended, which was one of the primary reasons for holding Project SOAR so early in the year. “Without being able to turn to HCHRA for help over the last several months, we knew that a lot of families were facing some pretty dire situations,” said HCHRA President and CEO Kenn Cockrell. “We’re talking senior citizens and people with disabilities who are on a small fixed income and are not able to work. We’re also talking about people who actually go to work every day, but still don’t earn enough to cover basic living expenses. We wanted to host Project SOAR as soon as we received our 2019 LIHEAP allocation in hopes of providing some immediate relief.” Normally, Hinds customers are required to schedule an appointment at one of HCHRA’s service sites to receive assistance. At Project SOAR, no appointment was required. Customers were seen on a first-come, first-served basis and HCHRA was able to meet with approximately 200 Hinds County residents on the spot to determine eligibility and provide assistance to anyone who qualified.
In addition to providing utility payment assistance at Project SOAR, HCHRA connected families with other valuable resources to help create some relief from the financial stress that many low-income families experience. Health screenings were provided by St. Dominic’s. More than 73 people signed up for the CreditPlus wealth building and financial management program with BankPlus, and a myriad of other information and services were provided by UnitedHealthcare, Entergy, Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation, Mississippi Behavioral Health Services, Ava Family Services, Feeding the Gulf Coast, and Mississippi Smiles. HCHRA also had staff on hand to provide information about the Head Start education program and the disabilities services it provides to preschool children, infants and toddler, the senior programs the agency offers, adult education, family and employment opportunities.
If you are in need of assistance but you were unable to attend Project SOAR, call HCHRA at (601) 962-5935 to schedule an appointment with a family opportunities advisor to discuss available opportunities.