In these uncertain times, there’s no doubt that countless thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people are looking for financial help. This is especially true when it comes to families and housing. In fact, worldwide, more than a billion people are currently facing housing insecurity.

In Northern Indiana, one first-responder initiative is doing all it can to help families in need of common necessities such as clothing and food.

Since it was formed in 2014, the community assistance group, Lockport Love, has been an important part of the community, helping folks in need. It is all volunteer-driven and usually helps anywhere from eight to 15 needy families every holiday season. It is 100% funded by the local community through various private contributions.

Lockport Love has consistently been held up as a great example of an organization stepping up to help its community. Local nonprofits in the area have turned to Lockport Love in the past when community homes have been in need of roof repair services to fix a roof or have needed other essential utility maintenance to fix gas line repairs. Many local businesses with expertise in areas like these have generously donated their time and money to help in the past.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockport Love held numerous popular fundraisers, including a candlelight bowling tournament, a chili cook-off, and a golf outing. For the time being, those events are on hiatus, and contributions are made by mail and online at lockportlove.com, but the need is always there.

COVID hasn’t been kind to some families looking for financial help and many have fallen behind on rent and mortgage payments. But even in the toughest of times, Lockport Love is still able to provide aid. Last year, the organization helped a single mom catch up on and arrange a payment plan for her utility payments.

Stories like these can be gut-wrenching, but they are exactly the reason volunteers are so eager to help. They hear the stories and they want to make a difference in the community. Whether that means helping a senior in need of medical supplies get the things they need from a medical supply store or taking a truck to a local mechanic who specializes in used trucks to help a family in need, many volunteers find themselves asking, how do you not help?

That was Lockport Police Chief Terry Lemming’s plan when he joined the local police department in 2014 and formed the organization after his daughter came up with the name: to make a difference in the community and help folks who had fallen on hard times.

The nominating petitions which help identify families in need are usually circulated between August and September to social workers, teachers, and clergy among other service providers. This helps Lockport Love identify where the need is the greatest in the community. Once nominations are collected, volunteer community liaisons review them and choose families to work with. Many times, the liaisons add money out of their own pockets in addition to the funds Lockport Love raises.

“Good people are down on their luck with this pandemic. It’s temporary for so many … but it’s also very real. They need a helping hand to get back on their feet. This is what communities do. This is what neighbors do for each other,” Lemming said in a recent article for the Times of Northwest Indiana.

As you can see, there are many organizations like Lockport Love, which do a lot of good things for people in need. If you or your family are in need of basic items or in need of money for home repairs, there are many avenues you can explore. As previously noted, Lockport Love does all it can to help needy people and needy families, but there’s always a need for more help.

So if you’re looking for financial help, how can you get it? These tips can help:

Home Repair Assistance

It’s a great feeling being a homeowner, but it can also be incredibly pricey. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price of some common home repairs includes $267 to fix a furnace and $653 to fix a roof. Total replacement of either of those can grow to thousands of dollars.

Thankfully, there are many repair assistance programs out there that offer grants and loans for families who are older, disabled, or fall under a certain income bracket. One such loan is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Improvement Loan, which is a fixed-rate loan that can be used for a home alteration, big or small. Usually, these loans provide up to $25,000 for single-family homes and up to $60,000 for multifamily homes. This allows you to pay for HVAC services to fix a faulty heating and cooling unit so you can have heat and air conditioning. It also allows you to keep a roof over your head if your roof needs some work.

Another option is the 504 Home Repair Program, which provides loans to low-income homeowners for needed repairs to fix and modernize homes. These loans have a fixed 1% interest rate and a repayment plan of 20 years with a maximum loan amount of $20,000. This is a viable option if you own a home, but are having trouble obtaining credit.

For U.S. veterans, one option they have for home repair is applying for VA Rehab and Renovation Loans. These loans are specifically designed for home repairs and can’t be used to buy homes. They also don’t require a down payment or any kind of mortgage insurance. To qualify, applicants must meet requirements for basic VA loans and must use the funds to improve the livability of a home.

Paying For Car Repairs

If you’re experiencing tough times financially and looking for financial help, another big expense you might be worried about is car repairs. This can be especially stressful if you drive a lot for work and need a car to be able to get to and from your job. No matter who you are—a veteran, a single parent, or a college student for example—sometimes we all need a helping hand.

You might know a local auto body shop in your area that will work out a payment plan with you on certain repairs, but here are some other organizations that can help. As you’ve seen from Lockport Love, there are many organizations that are willing and able to help their fellow members of the community and all you have to do is ask.

No matter what coast you on or what state you’re situated in, you likely have a faith-based group in your area that can offer emergency car repair assistance. Organizations like these include Lutheran Services in America and St. Vincent de Paul. Aside from those, your local Goodwill or local Salvation Army might offer ride assistance programs or car service programs.

Another option you’ve got is to reach out to local charities and organizations like Lockport Love to see if they can offer a hand. Some organizations might not be able to fix your car, but they may be able to raise funds or provide funds for you to make the repairs you need.

Help With Dental Costs

If you’re looking for financial help for dental work, once again, you have some options at your disposal. In some cases, even having private health insurance won’t cover the cost of dental services such as visits to dental clinics. But there some government programs that can help. Medicaid for example usually covers the cost of a comprehensive exam, but it may also cover more extensive work such as teeth cleanings, getting dentures, and dealing with root canals.

If you’re a senior who’s in need of some cosmetic dentistry work, the Medicare Advantage Program offers plenty of plans if you’re looking for financial help. These plans cost as little as $25 in some areas of the country.

Another option, if you need dental work done, is to consider local dental schools in your area. Think about how convenient urgent care is when you need a quick trip to the doctor to deal with a fever or a cold. Dental schools can work the same way because many of them have clinics associated with them. These clinics not only offer needed care such as orthodontics at an affordable price, but they also offer dental students a chance to get some firsthand experience. Depending on the schedule, some of these clinics offer free exams and x-rays and you may be able to get basic services like cleanings for as little as $25.

One more option to consider if you’re looking for financial help with dental care is to again, reach out to local charities and organizations. You can always crowdsource online through sites such as GoFundMe, but local organizations like Lockport Love, are ready to provide whatever help they can to people in need. If you’re a senior in need of new dentures, for example, local organizations may be able to work with a local dentist’s office to get you affordable dentures or they may be able to cover the cost altogether.

Help Paying For Funeral Expenses

When a loved one passes away, family members left behind to grieve are left with a lot of decisions to make, not the least of which is what to do about funeral service and how to pay for it. Unfortunately, as tough as some of these decisions are, many of them must be made very quickly.

If you’re looking for financial help with funeral expenses, it’s important to know what your rights are when it comes to burial costs, cremations, and the like.

Fortunately, there’s something called the Funeral Rule, which is designed to keep folks from being pressured into buying things they don’t need or being charged too much for various services. Rights under the funeral rule include:

  • Buying only the goods and services you want.
  • Seeing a written price list for burial containers.
  • Seeing a casket price list.
  • Receiving an itemized statement of goods and services.
  • Being able to provide your own casket or urn.
  • Making funeral arrangements without embalming.

As you can see, you certainly have rights when it comes to paying for funeral services, but in the event that you’re not able to pay for them, there are numerous organizations you can turn to. Religious organizations can help members of their congregations cover funeral expenses if they have a benevolence fund.

Depending on where you live, state and local organizations can also offer help. When funds are available, benefit amounts vary and are usually reserved for those who don’t have the means to cover a funeral for their loved one. Those in need usually must apply and be approved for benefits from the state or locally, but there are funds available. So, if in the unfortunate event that a loved one passes away, you don’t have to feel like it will be impossible to give them a funeral and say a proper good-bye.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

As you have read above, organizations like Lockport Love do a great many things for people who are in need, have fallen on hard times, and are looking for financial help. If you find yourself in this situation, where you’re struggling to or unable to pay for home repairs, dental costs, car repairs, funeral services, or any other necessities, you should never be afraid to ask for help. Even if you’ve determined in life that you don’t want to or don’t need to ask for help, don’t let your pride get in the way of looking for financial help.

Organizations like Lockport Love have made it their mission to help people during tough times. But perhaps more importantly than that, Terry Lemming and his staff of volunteers genuinely care about the people they’re helping and they volunteer to help because that’s what they believe should be done to help raise a community up. So if you ever find yourself in need of help, just ask. You might just be surprised by the response you receive.

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