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At the City Council meeting on April 6, Barbara Crider, Executive Director of York County Community Action Corp., gave a presentation on the agency’s pandemic operations and Sanford-specific resources. The agency has an annual payroll of $10 million and pays approximately $72,000 in property taxes to the City. 160 of the agency’s 220 full-time employees are based in Sanford.

Ms. Crider talked about YCCAC’s mission to alleviate the effects of poverty, attack its underlying causes, and promote the dignity and self-sufficiency of the residents of York county.

She went into detail about many of the programs YCCAC offers. The home energy assistance program (HEAP) offers support to over 1,200 households in Sanford alone. The Central Heating Improvement Program has helped 40 households in our community. The actual work of replacing heating systems is subbed out to local contractors.

The agency also has a housing program which includes the Patriot Place apartments and the former Child Care Services of York County building on Amherst St., which has been converted into rental units.

YCCAC children’s services include a Head Start program in which over 100 Sanford children are enrolled. She anticipates that the American Rescue Plan will include a significant investment in child care, and said the agency is trying to position itself to take advantage of those funds. She noted that as of last November, there were at least 30 child care providers in York County that had shut their doors, and it is unlikely they will all reopen. “The pandemic taught us the importance of child care,” she said.

Ms. Crider also talked about the agency’s transit services, which include the Sanford Transit bus and the Orange Line, which runs daily between Sanford and Wells. WAVE (Wheels to Access Vocation & Education) provides curb to curb service from Sanford to Biddeford and Wells, helping people without transportation get to work, school and elsewhere. The summertime Shoreline Explorer helps hospitality workers who live in Sanford get to jobs on the coast, although you can also take it just to get to the beach.

Nasson Healthcare is another big part of YCCAC. It serves 5,300 patients and is accepting new ones. Services are on a sliding fee scale to assist everyone regardless of ability to pay. Dentistry and behavioral health services are provided as well. Ms. Crider described how Nasson is an economic engine for the community, drawing people to Springvale who spend additional dollars at local businesses, and creating jobs in the process.

She explained to the Council how Covid resources from the federal government have been used to help Sanford residents. Over $1.5 million in rental relief has been distributed to landlords in our community, with more to come. YCCAC also provides support for people who have to quarantine because of exposure to the virus, helping with groceries and other needed supplies. The agency also has a “Hope Fund” that can help when no other program covers a specific need. “A lot of our donor dollars go to this,” she said.

Ms. Crider and her staff are developing more ideas for ways to use Covid funds to help, including assistance with water and sewer bills, mortgage help for low and moderate income homeowners, and new housing development opportunities. They are also exploring a RentSmart Tenant Education Program and workshops on shared housing.

YCCAC makes it as easy as possible for York County residents to get assistance, even if they don’t know what programs are available. Anyone can click or tap on the “I Need Help” button on their website (yccac.org), fill out a very brief form, and a social worker will respond.

Image by Joshua Choate from Pixabay

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