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ECKAN and the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation assistance programs.

The East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation is the local community action agency. They help struggling families and those living in poverty in the counties of Anderson, Coffey, Douglas, Franklin, Johnson, Lyon, Miami, Osage, or Morris Counties. The key goal is to help a client become self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty. But during that time, there may be financial aid offered or emergency support.

Low income housing and apartments are part of the Rental Housing Program. ECKAN owns, leases to tenants, and maintains properties in Ottawa, Osawatomie, Emporia, Paola, Waverly, and LeRoy, among other towns. The goal is to end homelessness and allow people to gain stability. This housing program is operated in partnership with the Housing Resource Corporation of Kansas, the Department of Commerce, local financial institutions, and even non-profits.

This is often combined with section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, or (HCV). This US Department of Housing and Urban Development program provides small amounts of financial assistance to low-income households. The funds may portion of their rent, and the money is for people seeking high quality, affordable rental housing in counties such as Miami or Johnson.

HUD vouchers fosters a sense of freedom and responsibility in tenants, who have the opportunity independently choose their new residences. People can live in apartments, townhomes, or other properties. However all units are required to meet the HUD structural and safety requirements as well as other standards from East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation.

The program has been recognized as well. In fact, ECKAN was recognized as a High Performance Organization by the Section 8 Management Assessment agency. They are a leading PHA - Public Housing Agency that administrates the Section 8 Program.

Families still need to pay some costs. Monthly rent amounts must also meet program requirements, with the government (through ECKAN) subsidizing the difference between the full rent payment and the amount provided by the tenant, which is determined according to household income. All payments from the community action agency are made directly to landlords. Find more details on low income section 8 housing in Kansas.




The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is also usually combined with section 8. This is a fully voluntary service that is funded by and works along with the vouchers in setting goals and develop personalized plans for gaining economic self-reliance and freedom from any need for government-provided cash assistance.

FSS and community action also operates according to the belief that, with support from a case manager, families have the desire and the ability to become independent of the state of Kansas welfare system. The FSS process starts with a meeting involving the family and the case manager from ECKAN to assess the family's situation and ensure that immediate basic needs, such as food, medications, shelter, and utility bills, are taken care of.

After this has been done, this allows the person that is enrolled to turn their attention toward  building on their strengths, with a focus on education and employment. East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation will help people reach their goals.

During FSS, there will be individualized case management that may involve parental counseling; education or training; assistance with debt reduction, personal finances and budgeting; short term housing assistance; and health care. Also, as part of this community action service, households are offered interest-earning escrow accounts, which serve as an incentive for achieving goals. As earned income increases, so does the amount in the escrow account, and the family receives the balance upon completing their obligation.

East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation also requires that heads seek full-time employment. There are jobs available in Douglas, Johnson, Anderson, and other counties. They may also need to attend school full-time if they are not working full time, and also show the ability to hold down a job at the same time. While the ECKAN clients seek employment or school, they can also find free money from a number of programs and resources.

The client must also remain independent of cash assistance from the government and also be drug free. In addition, all school-aged family members, children, and teenagers must remain in school until they earn high school diplomas. So East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation  requires full participation of the entire family.





ECKAN programs for children

When it comes to food, the Free Summer Lunch Bunch is for children under the age of 19. Food is available at soup kitchens and pantries in partnership with First United Methodist Church as well as Don Woodward Community Center.

The ECKAN Christmas Bureau may offer meals and toys. The goal is to ensure that low-income individuals and families from counties such as Osage or Johnson enjoy Christmas. The program links each needy family with a sponsoring church, service club, charity, family, company, or individual, who provide donated holiday food and free gift items.

Head Start and Early Head Start applications are processed by East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation. This is the region's leading early child development program serving children from low-income families. Both of these resources coordinate age-appropriate education services, with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency.

Components of it address healthy growth and development and can lead to future success of the student. Not only that, the entire family (with a focus on the parents) are strongly encouraged to participate in all aspects of the program through setting goals; strengths; creating a plan for reaching those goals; taking advantage of opportunities for education and training; volunteering in counties such as Douglas or Coffee, and more.

Head Start as well as ECKAN staff members are trained in all activities. There are resources around dental and physical health, parental involvement, nutrition, social services, disability support, adult education, and childhood education. The Head Start, educational programming is offered in several settings, including child care center, in-home, or preschool.

Get financial assistance from East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation

While there are a few satellite offices, the main East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation is at 1320 S. Ash, Ottawa, KS 66067. Call 785-242-7450.


By Jon McNamara

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