Success Stories

Here are just a few examples of success that we have servicing the community:

Building a Sustainable Life 
SMCAA Programs: Supportive Housing to Homebuyer Education to Weatherization

Mr. S was homeless when he was approved for the Supportive Housing Program which would pay for a portion of the rent on a potential home. After 6 years in SHP and receiving case management, Mr. S was informed by his landlord that she would be selling his rental house because she was moving out of the area. 

When Mr. S met with his SMCAA caseworker he discovered he no longer qualified for the program due to a household income increase. Given this fortunate situation, Mr. S stated he would like to purchase his rental home from his landlord. His caseworker referred him to another SMCAA program, Homebuyer Education, which provides homeownership counseling. Mr. S enrolled in the workshop where he not only learned the ins-and-outs of buying a home but also about other SMCAA programs and services. 

Two months after Mr. S completed the Homebuyer Education workshop he purchased his home -- and the mortgage payment was $200 a month less than what he had been paying for rent! Within six months of being a homeowner, Mr. S returned to SMCAA to apply for Weatherization services, which he had learned about through his counseling workshop. His application was accepted through WAP and his home has since been weatherized and helped to decrease his utility usage and utility bills cost.

Putting the Support in Supportive Housing
SMCAA Programs: Homeless Shelter to Supportive Housing 

Mr. W and his son were homeless when they entered the SMCAA Homeless Shelter​. Through case management, it was discovered that Mr. W was experiencing some mental health issues, and he was referred to Van Buren County Mental Health for evaluation. Following evaluation, Mr. W and his son qualified for the Supportive Housing Program and were able to move into a two-bedroom home. Through SHP, SMCAA continued to pay a portion of their rent for 8 years until the two men were able to move on to their own project-based townhouse.


My Path to Home Ownership
SMCAA Programs: Homebuyer Education

​I would like to take an opportunity to share my story that I believe many Americans will be able to empathize with.  For myself Home Ownership always seemed out of my reach.  For many years I was struggling to escape the "Rental Trap" moving from place to place paying thousands of dollars after many years and having nothing but memories to show for my efforts.  As a high school honor student and a holder of an associate's degree I thought I had the necessary knowledge to be prepared to be successful in the world.


Unfortunately, I did not have the knowledge or education to prepare myself for the upcoming financial challenges or credit barriers necessary to position myself for home ownership.  At the age of 38 I found myself exhausted from renting from landlord after landlord and decided to get serious about educating myself towards home ownership.  I got serious about monitoring my credit and began to explore what programs may be available to help someone such as myself reach their dream.


I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a loan originator from a local bank who gave me advice on my credit issues and talked about a program that may be able to help me get closer to Home Ownership.  I began to explore online and I was eventually led to the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA).  I learned that I could take classes to prepare me for home ownership and potentially receive down payment assistance to purchase my dream home.


I was once again blessed to have the opportunity to meet Kim who conducted the course I attended. She invited bank representatives and a realtor as guest speakers to discuss the challenges we were all facing. I believe some may neglect how challenging home ownership can actually be unless you are fortunate enough to be in an ideal situation. When faced with adversity, without the necessary education, making the decision that will lead us to our ultimate goal can seem impossible at times.


As I mentioned earlier I was 38 years old before I decided to change my financial path.  I had personally felt that I had reached rock bottom. I found myself divorced, my credit score in the dumps, living with my parents and everything I owned fit into one laundry basket. With the support and assistance from Kim I have the keys in my hands for my dream home. In two years' time I have managed to achieve a lifelong dream that would not be possible without the help I received.   Every day I give thanks for the blessings that I have received and the opportunities that I have had to endure. One day my story may actually help another.  To give someone hope that when things seem impossible that it can still be a reality.


It is my hope that programs such as the one that has helped me continue to be offered to those truly in need of that extra nudge to get them on the correct path.  That little guidance to show the light when goals seem so out of reach.  The reward, I believe, is one worth the cost.


This client was asked if he would like to represent the consumer sector on SMCAA's Board of Directors to which he accepted. He has served on the Board for over 4 years now.


The American Dream and SMCAA's Housing and Energy Departments
SMCAA Programs: Community Development Block Grant and Weatherization

The W family was in need of a furnace replacement but did not have the means to purchase one. After going to their local DHHS office, the family received a referral for an emergency repair but would need to fund a portion of the costs. The family was also instructed to contact SMCAA in the Community Development Block Grant Department to assist in the replacement.

Working with DHHS and Efficiency United, SMCAA was able to fulling fund the furnace for the W family. This mean no out-of-pocket expenses were necessary from the family, and they did not need to place a lien on their house in order to receive a new furnace before the upcoming winter. 

In addition, the family was eligible to apply for Weatherization -- a program the family had used years prior while living in a mobile home. Since their first experience with WAP, the family had purchased a single-family home and grown their annual household income. The W family utilized their former knowledge of SMCAA services to better insulate their home and ultimately increasing the value of receiving a new furnace as well!

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Contact Information

185 E Main St, Ste 303

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

(269) 925-9077

Office Hours

Monday - Friday

8:00am to 4:30pm

Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency

SMCAA is dedicated to empowering diverse people in need and supporting their journey towards economic security.

Our vision: to be a beacon of support in a strong, thriving community by helping people and changing lives.

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To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email:

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SMCAA is a private social service non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization.