Contact us!

Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc.
710 North Post Oak Road, Suite 210
Houston, Texas 77024

(713) 640-5192 Main Line
ACAM provides support and services to ministries
and does not provide financial assistance directly
to the general public. Please call 2-1-1 for basic needs and financial assistance.

Community Assistance Ministries (CAMs) are 501(c)(3) basic needs providers and have served neighbors in need since the early 1980’s. They were started by coalitions of congregations and remain faith-based in mission and vision, yet do not require a statement of faith or participation in religious activity as a condition for receiving services. As distribution centers for resources gathered from community groups, local congregations and neighbors-helping-neighbors, CAMs are a coordinated community effort with a proven track record in helping persons having trouble meeting their basic needs. Their spirit of service can be seen in everything they do. CAMs are an important part of our community's “social service safety net,” preventing homelessness, meeting basic needs and helping people remain or become self-sufficient. The ACAM collaborative includes 13 such nonprofit organizations that vary greatly in terms of size and the scope of services they provide.  To download a copy of our Member Services Directory, click here.

With over 10,000 volunteers they are an efficient way to streamline the desire of hundreds of congregations to respond to local needs.  They annually serve more than 250,000 people with food, clothing, employment services, rent/utilities assistance, and much more. To download a copy of the Summary of ACAM Member Activity and Service click here.

Principles of the ACAM Network

With 30-plus years of experience in Houston, the CAMs have fine-tuned their protocols to provide relief to families in need with compassion and a minimum of bureaucracy, yet with the discipline needed to live up to their commitment of good stewardship.  While some of the details may vary, the CAMs share the following principles:

  1. Stewardship and Integrity:  CAMs model good stewardship for clients. Nothing is wasted. The cost of service delivery is minimal and the work is done largely through trained volunteers whose efforts are directed by skilled staff managers.
  2. Evidence of Need:  People requesting help must show evidence of need including a copy of a signed lease, a copy of an eviction or late notice, a utility bill with current address, etc. They must also have a photo ID. Hurricane survivors must have a FEMA ID number or be willing to register with FEMA at the CAM.
  3. Verification of Need:  Requests for rent, utility and other financial assistance are verified with the landlord or utility company. Waivers of late fees and interest due are negotiated by ministry volunteers, thus reducing the total cost. For gasoline vouchers, a job interview, employment or health care appointment is verified.
  4. Careful Payment Systems: CAMs do not issue cash or checks to clients.  Payments are made directly to landlords, utility companies, gasoline companies and other vendors.
  5. Boundaries:  Records of assistance are kept and there are limits on the frequency and/or dollar amount granted per household per year.
  6. Collaboration:  By using the zip code area service system, CAMs are able to assure that families are not traveling from one ministry to another to access resources on a monthly basis.
  7. Referrals:  CAMs invite government benefits programs (food stamps, CHIP, Harris County Gold Card, IRS VITA programs, etc.) to provide their enrollment services on site thereby helping families to access benefits available to them while they are developing the ability to be self-sufficient and reducing the requests for assistance to the CAMs.

These protocols work well because CAMs have existing relationships with local landlords, utility companies, gasoline stations and grocery stores. Many have agreements with stores for reduced-rate prescriptions and reduced-rate or donated food or with gas stations that will pump the gas and charge it to a credit card on file that is then billed directly to the ministry.  As a charity, the CAM does not pay sales tax on such purchases and the funds can be stretched much further. Furthermore, the community businesses are familiar with the local clients and can assure that there are no fraudulent purchases such as using gasoline vouchers to buy cigarettes.