Agency: Texoma Council of Governments (TCOG),
a political subdivision of the State of Texas including Cooke, Fannin,
and Grayson Counties (Texoma Region)
(Size of WtW Program: 150 vouchers)
Through its direct service programs, TCOG provides a range of assistance
to low income persons, including Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) recipients. These programs include the Community
Services Block Grant Self-Sufficiency Program, the Section 8 Rental
Assistance Family Self-Sufficiency Program, and the Welfare to Work
Voucher Program. Trained case managers provide intensive case management
and counseling as a component of the programs' services.
Years of experience in providing these programs have allowed TCOG
staff to identify certain gaps that exist in client services. Key
service gaps include: (1) assistance with emergency housing; (2)
utility deposits including telephones; and (3) assistance with vehicle
repairs. TCOG Case Managers found that the social service organizations
operating in the Texoma Region provided very limited, if any, assistance
with these three items. Given the importance of these services in
promoting self-sufficiency for TANF recipients, TCOG decided that
it was a priority to address these identified gaps.
Solution: Funding from the Texas Department of Human Services Local Innovation Project (LIP) to Provide Direct Services
To address gaps in client services, TCOG applied for funding from
the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) under the Local Innovation
Project (LIP). The 14-month grant is being used to provide the following
- Emergency Housing Assistance. TCOG will assist eligible households
in keeping their current housing or securing housing if they are
- Keeping families in their current homes. TCOG will pay either
a mortgage payment or rent payment for the family (including
up to two months past due rent or mortgage payment). TCOG's
payment must ensure that the family will remain in that home.
- Securing a home. TCOG will arrange to pay a security deposit
for the housing unit and/or the first month's rent for the unit.
Down payment and closing cost assistance for the purchase of
a home will not be provided.
- Utility Deposit Assistance. TCOG is assisting eligible households
with water, electric, and/or gas deposits to ensure livable conditions
that meet the families' basic human needs. TCOG will work with
local utility companies to ensure that services are connected
on behalf of the client and referrals to TCOG administered utility
assistance programs will be made when necessary (for utility assistance
other than deposits). Telephone deposits will be provided only
when it is required for the client to conduct job search activities
or when it is a requirement of their job that they have a telephone.
- Vehicle Repair Assistance. When an eligible applicant family
currently owns (or has been in the process of buying) a vehicle
that is necessary for the family either to secure or maintain
a job, then TCOG will pay to have the vehicle repaired if it has
become inoperable or unsafe to drive. This payment will be made
only after an assessment by a participating service center and
approval of repairs by the TCOG case manager.
To implement this program, TCOG first developed an application
form to be completed by each interested household. This application
includes information necessary to determine program eligibility,
including household income. To be eligible, a participant must be
either a TANF recipient or potentially eligible to receive TANF.
Once TCOG staff has documented all information and the client is
determined eligible for participation in the program, TCOG staff
follows these steps:
Step One: Assign the client to one of two TCOG Case Managers.
- If the household has secure, adequate housing, they will be
assigned to the TCOG Family Self-Sufficiency Program Manager.
- If they lack adequate housing, the household will be assigned
to TCOG's Community Services Program Manager.
Step Two: Conduct an initial assessment meeting with the client.
At this point, an in-depth case management and counseling process
will be initiated. The initial meeting will be used:
- As a screening tool to determine the family's eligibility for
specific program activities.
- To build rapport with the client that will facilitate positive
future program outcomes.
In an effort to address client needs in a comprehensive manner,
TCOG may also arrange for assistance from other sources at the time
of the initial meeting.
Step Three: Arrange housing, utilities, and/or vehicle repair assistance
that is determined to be necessary for the applicant to move toward
self-sufficiency (this is the responsibility of the assigned case
manager). TCOG will allow an eligible program participant to use
funding from all three program components if that is what is necessary
for them to become financially self-sufficient. The maximum amount
of assistance a household can receive is $5,500 during any twelve-month
Step Four: Monitor the household for progress toward meeting their
goal of self-sufficiency. While some households may become self-sufficient
shortly after receiving this assistance, this will only be the first
step for other households and additional forms of assistance will
need to follow. To conduct an effective monitoring process, case
- Call clients on a monthly basis to obtain updates on employment
status, pay level, and number of hours worked per week.
- Maintain an individual client file to monitor expenditures made
by each client for individual components.
Step Five: Establish monthly reporting procedures to track all
program expenditures, to avoid cost overruns in any program budget
category, and to ensure that the program is meeting its goals and
objectives. Include the following information in the monthly reports:
- number of households served by each program component;
- number of households entering financial self-sufficiency; and
- number of clients being tracked for 90 day retention.
TCOG proposed to serve a minimum of 39 TANF or TANF-eligible households
under this program, but intends to serve 90 households. Of the 90
households served, TCOG expects the services provided to result
in lifting 40 of these households out of the poverty.
Farley, Community Development Director, (903) 813-3520