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Tri-County CAP seeking aid from area communities

November 07, 2018
LITTLETON—Representatives from three different branches of the Tri-County Community Action Program (CAP) went before the Budget Committee last week to request its support for their voter-considered aid requests, which go on the warrant in March.

Brenda Gagne, Transport Director for Tri-County Transit came to request support for the Tri-Town Bus, which operates through the Littleton-Lancaster corridor, and for its door-to-door service.

Tri-County Transit facilitated 9,100 trips for 288 Littleton residents last year. Many of them were veterans bound for the White River Junction office of Veterans Affairs. Others used the service to access medical care, whether to Littleton Regional, Weeks, or a mental health visit.

Tri-County Transit also provides a volunteer-run, long-distance transport service for seniors and veterans, which goes as far as Portland, Maine, but also to Manchester and White River Junction.

Gagne said that while her service and the Senior Center's do overlap, there was enough volume of need that they do not duplicate

The Tri-Town Bus deviates up to a quarter of a mile, and costs $3 for an all day, unlimited ride. The door-to-door bus is free, and long-distance medical transport is grant funded, and free to both the elderly and the disabled. Many use it for essential grocery runs, or even to access work.

While the VA offers its own bus, an all-day group trip—Gagne explained that many of her veteran clients find a 12-hour trip too taxing, physically or mentally, and prefer the more focused service.

Next, Dawn Ferringo, Division Director of Preventative Services, came to advocate for Tri-County Cap programs related to homeless intervention and prevention, and its several shelters.

Last year, homeless outreach reached 84 individuals, loans were granted to 16, and four residents were temporarily put up in hotels.

The programs provide cash assistance, in the form of security deposits for new rentals, and aid for rent arrearages. Eviction-prevention services can pay up to six months of rent, under certain circumstances. Where applicable, contracted loan repayment is kept to manageable levels, such as $30 per month.

"If they default on that loan, the Feds up the money to the landlord, so the landlord isn't at risk," Ferringo explained, and added "We try to hold them accountable."

"All these services reduce your direct costs for town welfare money," she pointed out.

Every school in the state has a homeless liaison, and the program works with those in Littleton, Lisbon, and Bethlehem. Ferringo observed that her staff receives more calls from schools related to domestic violence than for homelessness. The program collaborates with multiple local charities, including catholic charities and Community Church of Franconia. This year, the organization have organized a partnership with the Littleton PD, and will transport residents

She asked for $5,000 for her homelessness programs.

Burch House services victims of domestic violence in 17 northern Grafton County—116 women and children in Littleton along last year, and 554 individuals in the broader region.

Ferringo requested $3,080 for Burch House, an amount which is level over the past two years, and will be used as matching funds to acquire grants, which expect 25 percent chip-in of non-federal and non-state money. Town-provided money qualifies, so if all goes well, the $3,080 can be leveraged into as much as three times that in grants. County funding also qualifies for grant purposes.

Finally, Tri-County CAP's Energy Services Division requested $11,000 to provide fuel and electrical assistance. Last year, the program served some 220 households for a total value of about $191,319 in fuel assistance. They weatherized 12 homes at a cost of $49,871, and provided $16,661 from their fuel pantries, all in Littleton alone. The program aims to provide about one third of annual heating costs to those who qualify.

When someone applies for fuel and energy aid, they are requested to prove a month of income, provide landlord forms and tax returns, as well as report other aid programs, such as food stamps. Fuel assistance is open to anyone under 60 percent median income, and runs Dec. 3 through April 30. Electrical assistance takes the form of an annual discount, and has slightly higher income qualifications. Fuel assistance is federally funded, but does not cover offices, administration, and implementation—so town aid will support the organization's operations and presence in the region.

Voters will decide on Tri-County CAP's requests for aid in March.

Varney Smith
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