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Berrien County assistance programs.

Lower income families can find churches, charities, social services or non-profits below that offer financial aid. Find funds to help pay rent, mortgages or security deposits. Cash grants can help pay electric, heating or utility bills. Or get free groceries from pantries in Berrien County. Learn where to apply for help with those bills as well as how to get transportation, free medications or health care, SSI disability payments, job training, and other support.

If you are in need of financial assistance, and also are struggling to get back on your feet for long term success, the place to turn to for both referrals to local programs and direct cash assistance is the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency. The agency can be contacted at (269) 925-9077. They offer local residents the following services, and more. Call them to learn how to apply for help, or other options that may be averrable to you.

Food assistance

They offer three different programs, including CSFP Supplemental Food Program, the TEFAP Food Assistance Program as well as access to food pantries. CSFP allows for the distribution of supplemental food for new mothers and families, food for children under 6, and seniors. Monthly distribution is provided to qualified individuals. The food pantry provides emergency food, for free, to people who are facing a crisis situation. TEFAP is the last available component, and it allows additional supplemental food for needy individuals, and this provides quarterly distribution.

Foreclosure, credit counseling, rent, and housing assistance

People who are facing eviction, a foreclosure, or who need credit help have several housing programs that may be able to provide help. Their options include the following:





  • Foreclosure Assistance and Mitigation Counseling - Homeowners who are struggling with their monthly mortgage payments can receive access to free foreclosure mediation and mitigation. Professional counselors will work with the homeowner, lender and/or bank to prevent foreclosure. Unfortunately it is true that not all homes can be saved, but they will do their best to save the home if possible. Learn more on Michigan foreclosure mediation.
  • Home Repairs and Homeowner Rehabilitation - Qualified low income, elderly, and disabled homeowners can receive free renovation and improvements of owner-occupied houses in Berrien County Michigan. Receive safety improvements, and even energy conservation measures.
  • Supportive Housing - This is a program that provides rental assistance for disabled homeless individuals, those on the verge of eviction and related families. There may also be some help in locating resources to pay a security deposit.
  • Links to Homeownership - This program provides credit repair services and help reducing debt, pre-homeownership counseling, financial management, credit repair and improvement, and home maintenance services. Find additional debt assistance programs.

Weatherization, utility and heating bill help

If you are facing a disconnection of your utility service, or if your energy bills are extremely expensive, you may be able to receive help from federal government programs, the state of Michigan, as well as assistance from your local gas or utility company. Call the community action agency of St. Joseph Michigan.

  • Weatherization - Low income families, the disabled, and elderly can apply to receive free home upgrades and other energy conserving measures that will make a home (whether it is a rental or owned) more energy efficient and help them save hundreds of dollars per year on their utility and heating bills. Some of the upgrades can include additional insulation, new windows, furnaces, or more.
  • LIHEAP, known as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program - While weatherization will help you reduce your energy bills, this LIHEAP program provides financial assistance and cash grants to pay a bill, and ensure service does not get terminated.

Emergency assistance and referrals

In addition to the programs and services mentioned above, the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency also offers emergency help. For example, qualified people who are facing a crisis can access to financial assistance with rent, mortgage or utility bills.




In addition, they offer Information and Referral on other local Berrien County charities, non-profit agencies and the services provided.

Call the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency at (269) 925-9077. Find more details.

Additional assistance programs in Berrien County Michigan

The Salvation Army of St. Joseph and Berrien County Michigan provides emergency financial assistance. The charity may have grants for paying utilities, free food, clothing, personal needs, heating bills, diapers and disaster relief. Any type of support from the church based group includes extensive case management, which focuses on employment needs of the community. More Salvation Army Berrien County programs.

The location also offers additional social services. One important program from the Salvation Army is assisting children around the Christmas holiday by passing out free toys or presents. There may also be free meals, food, and referrals to local loan programs. Families in Berrien County can also find additional charities to turn to for help at Christmas. Call 344-6119

Tri-County Food Bank (phone 343-1269) can provide struggling individuals and families with free food. They need to have a referral from a local charity or human services group in order to get aid.

Family Health Center - Offers patients and low income people with emergency prescription assistance at most 1x per year, 8am to 8pm daily. Call 488-0813.

Berrien County housing programs are available to stop homelessness. Agencies provide short term rent help as well as other financial aid for paying utility bills. If an eviction is caused by water or heating bill arrears, this can be arranged as well. Or low income families can get help moving into a new, affordable apartment. More on Berrien County rental assistance.





Soup kitchen and food pantries - Anyone that is struggling, or that has a referral, can stop by one of the many Berrien County food pantries. Depending on what is in stock, there may be free groceries, fruit, baby formula and more. Most also provide food stamps applications and Christmas meals or gifts.

  • Woodland Shores Baptist - The church has a pantry and clothing closet. Call (269) 465-4673.
  • Catholic Charities - Many social services, including a free food pantry, are available. Call (269) 926-6424.

There are about 10 other charities to try for help. Or referrals may be given too. Find Berrien County food banks.


By Jon McNamara

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