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Income Qualified Assistance


The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) does not provide direct grants to individuals; CSBG does not charge a fee for receiving a grant. If you receive a message offering you a CSBG grant or requesting a fee, please contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477.

For more information, please visit the Grant Fraud and Scams: Grant-Related Scams | GRANTS.GOV.

What is CSBG?

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program was created by the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981. The CSBG program is designed to provide a range of services which assist low-income people to attain skills, knowledge and motivation necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. The program also may provide low-income people immediate life necessities such as food, shelter, medicine, etc. The Illinois Department of Commerce administers the CSBG program in accordance with federal law and the Illinois Economic Opportunity Act. In its administration, the department places an equal emphasis on self-sufficiency efforts and providing relief for the immediate needs of low-income people. The state receives approximately $30  million annually in CSBG funding to provide employment, education, housing and emergency services to the eligible population.

How are CSBG funds distributed?

Federal law mandates that states distribute their CSBG funds in the following manner: 90 percent to the State's network of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) and our statewide migrant organizations to provide antipoverty services in Illinois' 102 counties and in the City of Chicago. The funds are allocated among the CAAs according to a poverty population-based formula.

  • 5 percent to CAAs or other eligible public or private organizations for discretionary antipoverty programs.
  • 5 percent for state administration, monitoring and technical assistance activities.

What services are provided under CSBG?

Illinois' Community Action Agencies (CAAs) serve approximately 1 million individuals annually with programs addressing the needs of low-income citizens. Typically, CSBG funds are being used for the following types of programs:

  • Education - A broad spectrum of educational assistance is provided through the CSBG program. Specific examples include: workplace orientation, vocational skills training, family planning education, cultural opportunities for disadvantaged children, energy conservation education, post-secondary education scholarships, GED assistance for high school dropout, adult and youth literacy training and nutrition education for single parents and the elderly.
  • Employment - The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity places a high CSBG priority on job creating economic development programs which result in the employment and self-sufficiency of low-income persons. Each CAA designs and operates an individualized economic development program. Ten percent of each CAA's annual CSBG funding is allocated for economic development/job creation activities. Most CAAs operate a loan program through which below market rate loans are made for business expansion and start-up which results in the hiring of low-income persons.
  • Emergency Services - Most CAAs maintain clothes closets and food pantries, many of them in conjunction with other community groups and local churches. Some agencies provide redeemable vouchers or grants to clients that enable them to meet immediate and urgent family needs such as health services, nutritious food, housing, employment-related assistance, day care, medical services and transportation.
  • Health - CAAs provide many health related activities including transportation to medical services, medical and dental screening, immunizations, drug and alcohol prevention and treatment assistance and medication/prescriptions and other related services.
  • Housing - The primary housing activities include aid to renters seeking a residence, landlord/tenant rights education and arbitration, information about purchasing/financing a home, packaging housing and housing rehabilitation loans and providing for minor energy efficiency or health and safety related home repair.
  • Income Management - Many CAAs offer programs to encourage better use of available income. A majority of this assistance is in the form of family budget counseling. Information also is provided through workshops or brochures on such topics as financial management, credit, income taxes and social security.
  • Linkages - CSBG funding regularly supports extensive outreach, information and referral services.
  • Nutrition - CSBG funding is a primary resource for leveraging and providing nutritional assistance. Typical programs include: federal surplus food distribution, community gardening projects, food banks, senior citizen and youth feeding projects, Christmas food packages and assistance in accessing food stamps, WIC, summer feed programs for children, and other nutrition-related programs.
  • Self-Sufficiency - Most CAAs provide for comprehensive family case management programs that promote, empower and nurture family members toward self-sufficiency.
  • Coordination of Services - CAAs partner with local governments, community based organizations and the private sector to provide critical human services. This coordination is enhanced by the CAA's unique board structure. Locate the Community Services Block Grant funded agency serving your county.

Who is Eligible?

Client eligibility for the Illinois Community Services Block Grant program is based on a "poverty" income threshold that is established and annually adjusted (for changes in the Consumer Price Index) by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  In addition to the poverty income eligibility, citizens whose income is within 125 percent of the poverty threshold are determined to be "low-income" and are also eligible for CSBG services.  With the passage of the CARES Act, the CSBG federal poverty level has been increased from 125% to 200% as a result of Covid-19 until 12/31/21.  Illinois' CSBG regulations also make provision for CSBG services to citizens above these income levels who are victims of natural or man-made disasters which cause swift and temporary poverty.  Information on CSBG eligibility provisions can be obtained by calling your local CAA.