Douglas County assistance programs.

How to get help with bills

For people who are facing short term financial hardships, there are some places that they can turn to for help. They include the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation (ECKAN) and also the Warm Hearts of Douglas County program.

Get help with heating bills

The Warm Hearts of Douglas County is a local heating bill assistance program, which runs from January to April every year. Douglas County families can apply for and are eligible for the program if their income is at 185 percent or less of the federal poverty guideline. Grants and funds from the Warm Hearts program are distributed through the the Salvation Army (785) 843-4188, Ballard Center ((785) 842-0729), Douglas County Senior Services, ECKAN, and Penn House.

If anyone is struggling with paying their heating bill, they need to ask for help with it before their heating service is turned off. Also it is important to note that while Warm Hearts grants can help cover late energy bills, the money can’t be used for paying for reconnection fees, utility deposits, and turn-on-charges. For more information or to apply for Warm Hearts, call Penn House at 842-0440.

There are other options and resources available as well. Along with seeking assistance from the Warm Hearts program, residents can call their utility or gas companies and ask to pay one-twelfth of the overdue bill now and then pay off the rest over the balance of the next year. This is an option that is available across Kansas.

Also, under Kansas state law, from November through March utility and gas companies can’t turn off the heat if the temperature is forecast to drop below 35 degrees anywhere in the state. But if heating bills are delinquent, the utility can start the final notification process and they can also start the disconnection process once the 48-hour forecast predicts temperatures to go above 35 degrees.

In addition, utilities must also send a written notice to a customer at minimum 10 days before disconnection of their service. They also need to make personal contact and a phone call the day before the heat is turned off, so communication needs to occur.





East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation

This community action agency serves Lawrence individuals and families. The main office is located at 1320 South Ash, Ottawa, Kansas, and the phone number is (785) 242-7450. They have several assistance programs for local residents.

  • Weatherization Program - Save on your energy bills. This help is provided at no cost to those who own their home. Renters can also receive aid. It focuses on low-income families, the elderly, handicapped and others who are struggling with high energy bills. The Weatherization Program being run by ECKAN has been recognized and acknowledged as one of the best programs in the entire State of Kansas. Find more info on weatherization.

Some of the free energy saving measures implemented may include:

    • Insulating exterior walls
    • Repairing broken glass in windows and doors
    • Cleaning and tuning up of the furnace to assure efficiency and safety or replacement of furnace if necessary.
    • Sealing leaks in heating system and pipes
    • Sealing holes in outside walls and ceiling for insulation installation
    • Insulation attic and roof areas

    Additional Services - Other resources available include Community Food and Nutrition, Housing Choice Voucher Program, FEMA, Head Start Program, Rent Assistance, Volunteer Youth, Housing Counseling and Rentals, Youth Services, Outreach and Referral, and the Weatherization Program.

Information on assistance programs for food, rent, utilities and more

Low income, unemployed, and others who may be struggling can contact Ballard Community Services. Various non-profit agencies, including Penn House, The Ballard Center, and Brookcreek Learning Center have partnered together to help the less fortunate. They have created the Ballard Community Services organization.

Services and resources provided include: housing assistance, an affordable, high quality early education program for children infants to age six, emergency food, rent, heating and utility bill assistance, a women's professional clothing assistance program and even health care including a medical prescription assistance program. Based on many factors, BCS may offer a cash grant to the family or they will direct them to any number of resources for their needs.

These various services and assistance programs are provided through the Penn House, Ballard Center, and Brookcreek locations. In addition, BCS also provides services to the community through the Emergency Service Council. Phone (785) 842-0729, or obtain help from Ballard Community Services.





The Lawrence Salvation Army provides emergency assistance for bills as well as crisis intervention services to qualified residents of Douglas County, including homeless prevention through paying for rent and utility assistance, clothing, emergency free food, temporary emergency shelter, a feeding program, holiday assistance and advocacy, youth and senior programs. Call (785) 843-4188, or read Douglas County Salvation Army assistance programs.

Case managers from the Salvation Army are also a great place to get referrals and help in applying for government resources such as food stamps and LIHEAP. The non-profit also has information on Douglas County and state of Kansas programs. Find more public assistance in Kansas.

Food assistance programs

In addition to the resources mentioned above, there are several pantries and non-profit centers in Douglas County that focus on offering groceries, canned goods, and similar support. Some may also have hot meals or special holiday programs.

  • Countryside Community Church has a cupboard, or pantry, for the needy. (402) 391-0350
  • Heartland Hope Mission is based in Omaha at 5218 South 21st Street. Phone (402) 733-2077.
  • Living Word Pantry is another local, non-profit charity that may have free groceries, fruits, frozen items and more. (402) 721-2068

Numerous other food banks are in the region. While the hours and resources are limited, they may be able to assist. Or they can refer families to government resources, such as WIC and many others. For more information on food pantries in Douglas County, click here.

Low cost dental insurance and dental cleaning services

Contact the Lawrence Kansas based Douglas County Dental Clinic. Phone (785) 312-7770. This facility provides high quality, comprehensive dental care to both uninsured as well as underserved individuals in the area, with a special focus provided to those with limited incomes as well as financial means. The program also focuses on those families with children with Medicaid and HealthWave benefits. Treatment provided by the dental clinic includes preventative, emergency, and restorative dental care. Fees for the uninsured and other who can’t afford to pay full price are greatly reduced and those fees are based on a sliding scale. (785) 312-7770.

Douglas County Kansas medical care and health clinics

Low income patients and others who can’t afford to pay for a medical or hospital bill can contact the Health Care Access Clinic at (785) 841-5760. Facilitates offered by this center can help people access and receive health care and prescription medication assistance, and the resources and services are offered for Douglas County residents with low incomes and limited financial means who are not covered by either private or state of Kansas of federal governmental insurance programs. The health care clinic is a fully staffed medical clinic, and services are offered by over 160 volunteer health professionals, doctors, nurses and other local collaborating agencies. Enhanced services are also provided, and they include wellness counseling, women's health and expanded appointment availability.




Debt programs, as well as foreclosure and mortgage assistance

Another non-profit counseling agency, which is based in Lawrence but covers the entire county, is Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. The phone number is (785) 749-4224. Work with a counselor to resolve tenant/landlord issues, receive access to homeowner and consumer finance counseling and classes, HUD approved foreclosure counselors, funded reverse mortgage, home purchase readiness and mortgage default counseling. In addition, get information on credit card assistance programs, rental rights and responsibilities, debt repayment plans, credit reports and bankruptcy filings. Learn more on foreclosure programs, including unemployed mortgage assistance.

Legal aid

Douglas County Legal Aid Society is a free legal services clinic for low-income and elderly persons in Douglas County Kansas. The staff attorneys, legal professionals and student interns represent qualified, lower income clients in a variety of matters that include domestic relations cases (protection from abuse, divorce, paternity, and child support cases). Also receive help for dealing with landlord-tenant matters. The free legal clinic also defends those persons who are charged with crimes in the Municipal Court of Lawrence Kansas. (785) 864-5564, or click here to learn more about legal programs.





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