What We Do

The Office of Community Services (OCS) partners with states, communities and agencies to reduce the  causes of poverty, increase opportunity and economic security of individuals and families and revitalize communities. Our social service and community development programs work in a variety of ways to improve the lives of many.

OCS’s main goals are to:

  • Serve the economic and social needs of low-income individuals and families
  • Provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Promote individual economic opportunity and security  through the creation of full-time, permanent jobs
  • Support asset building strategies for low-income families and individuals such as savings, increasing financial capability and securing assets
  • Assist community development corporations in utilizing existing funding for neighborhood revitalization projects
  • Provide financial and technical resources to state, local, public and private agencies for economic development and related social service support activities
  • Provide energy assistance to low-income households

The Office of Community Services (OCS) administers 6 social service and community development programs. In 2015, this totaled more than $5.6 billion in funding.

  • Assets for Independence
    The Assets for Independence (AFI) program is demonstrating and testing the effectiveness of matched savings accounts (Individual Development Accounts IDAs) as a tool for enabling low-income individuals and families to become economically self-sufficient.
  • Community Economic Development
    Community Economic Development (CED) discretionary grants are awarded to nonprofit community development corporations in disinvested communities for purposes of creating new jobs for low-income individuals, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.  As part of the CED program, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative aims to eliminate food deserts in urban and rural areas in the United States with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
  • Community Services Block Grant
    The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) supports services designed to ameliorate the causes and conditions of poverty by assisting low-income individuals, families and communities with services based on local needs, including employment, education, and adequate housing.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
    The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to States, Tribes and Territories to assist low-income households in meeting their home energy costs.
  • Rural Community Development
    The Rural Community Development (RCD) Discretionary Grant Program provides discretionary grants which assist low-income communities in developing affordable, safe water and wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Social Services Block Grant
    The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) provides funding to states to increase economic self-sufficiency, prevent or ameliorate neglect, abuse, or the exploitation of children and adults, prevent or reduce inappropriate institutionalization, and secure referrals for institutional care.