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Community Services Block Grant Meeting Critical Needs During the Pandemic

Grant community action agencies are serving more families with important rental, mortgage, and utility assistance along with food and job services
Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 03:02pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) and partnering agencies are recognizing the important impact the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) has been able to make in communities over the last year.

TDHS supports and administers the CSBG through a network of 20 local Community Action and Human Resource Agencies that reach all 95 counties. This state and community partnership works  together to provide services to eligible low-income individuals and families to improve the communities in which they live.

The collaboration has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Community Action Agencies have worked to meet the new challenges created by the pandemic on top of the already identified needs within Tennessee communities. Among the most important accomplishments:

  • Community Action Agencies developed new partnerships with businesses and organizations to step up nutritional support. This work provided more than a million prepared meals in 2020 along with nearly 650,000 food boxes.
  • Agencies have used CARES Act funding to provide services to Tennesseans who’ve been economically impacted by COVID-19 .
  • The CARES Act allowed agencies to increase their reach by raising the income eligibility.  Under this change, a family of 3 can now qualify for services making $43,400. Previously, the limit was $27,150
  • Agencies utilized CARES Act funding to increase the amount of services like rental and utility assistance provided. For example, agencies that may have had to limit assistance to one month previously were able to provide up to three months of assistance.

“Community Action Agencies working in partnership with our CSBG program serve a vital role removing barriers to self-sufficiency many individuals face,” said TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter.  “This work has been even more important during the pandemic and together we’re enabling Tennesseans to grow beyond the need for our services.”

To recognize the important impact the CSBG has made, Governor Lee proclaimed May as “Community Action Month.” TDHS will be hosting a joint virtual celebration with the Tennessee Association of Community Action on May 25, 2021 and plans to share photos of that celebration on social media.

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is a federally funded grant program created by the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981. The program aims to combat poverty within communities by removing the barriers to self-sufficiency clients may encounter. Applicants meeting the income requirements may be eligible for a variety of services.

For more information about CSBG eligible entities’ programs and services, visit the TDHS website.