As we continue our 'Texomans in Transition" series, we are excited to tell you more about the Texoma Council of Governments. TCOG is a voluntary organization with a basic goal - improving the quality of life across Cooke, Fannin, & Grayson counties. Each day, they work hard by delivering services to citizens, and professional & technical planning services to our local governments.
Energy Services Program Manager, Brenda Smith, explains how important receiving part of the Emergency Solutions Grant has been to help them better serve citizens in transition and need.
"We became involved in the collaboration because there was a demonstrated need to help folks who were on the verge of being evicted. And we had worked with the other agencies through the Homelessness Prevention Program, so when we were given the opportunity to apply as a part of the collaboration again - to be able to help people from being evicted - we were happy to do that."
Those who are eligible have to be under eviction notice, have to have an income and meet income guidelines, and they have to show and document that they will be able to maintain that rent after the aid is given. Executive director, Dr. Susan Thomas says that, so far, they have helped 35 families since last October.
"What the broader audience would want to understand and need to understand is that when you know people in your church, your family, or in your neighborhood that may be on the verge of being evicted - that there are resources out there and they can call TCOG and we can respond to that."
And for residents who aren't homeless, but they're having a hard time paying their basic utility bills like water, electricity - TCOG has an Energy Assistance Program in which they help qualified, low income families pay those bills. And they also teach them how to conserve energy.
And, our main question for the organizations in this series - what is the biggest misconception about homelessness?
Dr. Thomas: "That is doesn't exist here in Grayson County. Most of us spend our lives focused on our worlds and our families and just don't have the reality and understanding of what's happening in some people's lives."
For more information on the income qualifications for the programs, please contact TCOG by visiting their website at www.texoma.cog.tx.us