Berks Community Action Program offers an extensive range of services designed to help low-income Berks County residents manage their finances and stretch their incomes. From weatherizing homes and educating families on how to save energy, to financial education for every stage of life, to preparing residents on how to enter or re-enter the workforce, BCAP can help.
Please see the information below, and then contact us to learn more.
A Range of Financial Counseling, Financial Assistance, and Work Readiness Programs for Low-Income Berks County Residents
Energy Education & Weatherization Program
Helping You Save on Energy While Increasing Home Comfort
The BCAP has weatherized over 4,000 low-income homes in Berks County since 1976. Services are delivered to single-family homes, multi-family homes and mobile homes.
The Weatherization Program increases energy efficiency, resulting in energy savings on home heating and air conditioning costs for low-income Berks County residents. Increased comfort and improved health and safety are key benefits as well.
This is accomplished by installing insulation and weather stripping, and replacing or repairing doors, windows, and air sealing. Heating system cleaning and tune-ups are also performed.
Our Weatherization staff provides energy education to clients at several stages of the weatherization process. This information includes low-cost and no-cost measures clients can perform to reduce consumption of electricity, gas, oil and water and save money as a result.
VITA - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Free Help in Preparing Your Federal and State Income Tax Return
Income tax returns are prepared free of charge with training and technical support from the IRS and the dedication of the BCAP staff. Tax preparation services are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from January through April.
During 2012, our VITA free tax filing service represented $ 5,748,675 in Adjusted Gross Income, resulting in $ 554,809 in tax refunds generated. The refunds included $ 214,817 in Earned Income Tax Credits.
The BCAP staff is always looking for volunteers and partners to help grow the VITA site because it provides a valuable service to our community. Please contact us if you would like to help.
Work Ready Program
Training & Services to Help Prepare You for the Workforce
The Work Ready Program works with TANF clients who are referred to the program by the County Assistance Office (CAO).
Case Management sessions identify the client’s skills and the areas in which they need additional training. Work Ready provides clients with life skills and basic job-readiness skills training. The clients practice these new skills by volunteering at BCAP and in the community.
Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP)
Helping You Stay in Your Home While You Regain Your Financial Footing
This is a state program to help those who have worked hard to purchase their homes to keep them during short periods of financial turmoil.
The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program provides homeowners who have received an Act 91 notice a chance to apply for a loan to pay their mortgage until they are able to regain their financial footing. Counselors review each individual situation and prepare the necessary paperwork to be mailed to the state for a decision.
Housing Assistance Program
Rental Assistance to Help You Avoid Eviction & Homelessness
The Housing Assistance Program helps families who are homeless or facing homelessness through eviction or other circumstances.
After meeting certain eligibility criteria including income guidelines and the ability to maintain the rental agreement on an on-going basis, a rental-related payment is made directly to the landlord by BCAP to pay for a security deposit, first month’s rent, or both.
Low-income financial assistance for Berks County residents. Services include: weatherization for energy efficiency and savings, budgeting and financial tips to better manage your money, VITA free tax filing and preparation, job training and placement, HEMAP emergency mortgage assistance, and temporary rental assistance. Serving Reading, PA, and all of Berks County.
Budgeting & Counseling Services
Helping You Prepare for Car or Home Ownership
Buying a home, purchasing a good car, starting a business and many other long-term life goals often require a close look at your credit history. Budget Center counselors can help families and individuals budget to save for those big goals, and help repair credit and repay debts as necessary.
Our budget counseling services are offered to anyone who needs help regardless of the circumstances. The Budget Center staff also provides budgeting workshops to local agencies and groups.
Budget Center Counselors have helped hundreds of Berks County families realize their dream of home ownership. The amount of time spent with each family or individual varies depending on the needs of the homebuyer, and sometimes on the requirements set forth by the mortgage lender.
To assure compliance with the mandatory pre-purchase sessions relating to first time homeownership the following sessions are provided:
1. Financial Review/Budget Planing: Examine current household expenses and revenue, and analyse the
households ability to absorb additional costs associated with homeownership.
2. Home and Preventative Maintenance: Learn how to maintain a home’s mechanical systems to avoid costly
3. Conditions of Approval/Settlement Procedures: Explanation of all aspects of settlement, including all costs involved and the steps taken on the day of settlement.
4. Predatory Lending: Learn what to watch out for when you're shopping for a home loan, signs of unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices.