Blue Mountain Action Council programs.

The counties supported by the Blue Mountain Action Council include Columbia, Garfield and Walla Walla in Washington. The agency administers numerous resources for the poor, low income, and less fortunate. The main services are noted below, however other support such as referrals may be provided too. The programs in highest demand include funds for paying utility bills, food, and many of the housing solutions such as home repairs.

Blue Mountain Action Council helps low to moderate income clients concerning their taxes through the AARP Tax-Aide program. This is run by local volunteers with support from the AARP Foundation. This free program offers assistance and advice with filing a number of tax form, including the 1040.

Staff from the BMAC agency and IRS trained volunteers want people to receive all the deductions and credits allowed under law. Trained volunteers from the AARP Foundation advise clients with complex tax returns. Free electronic filing (e-filing) which ensures more accurate tax returns and faster processing of refunds is offered at most sites as well, including in Garfield. The program is available February 1 through April 15. AARP Tax-Aide is the nation's and state of Washington largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service.

Funded by federal government, the LIHEAP or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps low income households make home heating more affordable. Funds can help pay the bills, with a focus on seniors and the disabled. Grants will help households avoid shutoff of utility services during the winter. The grants and credits on their account help people maintain a warm, safe, and healthy environment for eligible households.

Government funding is limited, so the LIHEAP  priority is given to the households in Washington with young children, the elderly, and the disabled. The program is administrated by the Washington Department of Commerce through local community action agencies like Blue Mountain Action Council.

Other utility bill discounts are administered too. Struggling seniors and disabled persons in counties of College Place and Walla Walla are entitled to the services of discount programs concerning water and maybe even sewage bills payment. Applicants can call 529-4980 for more information.




Asset Building Coalition is for the general public. Financial literacy and information on tactics is from the Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition. The goals of the client will be  set at that session by the participants include coordinating on-going Money Smart financial education courses and credit repair courses. Most workshops are sponsored and taught by Banner Bank, are held at the YWCA in Walla Walla County

Blue Mountain Action Council offers food distribution to eligible clients through the Community Services Division. Free groceries and food from multiple community drives is stored in the warehouse facility. From there, the items are distributed to Walla Walla’s and nearby towns local emergenc  pantries. In addition to that, vouchers are available at Helpline. The address of the main facility is: 921 W. Cherry Street in Walla Walla.

This location is also used for a monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) distribution. Low income pregnant women, the elderly, working poor new mothers up to one year postpartum, and infants and children up to age six are eligible. There is normally a waiting list.

Additionally, seniors over 60 years old are also qualified to apply. Eligible clients must choose to receive help either from CSFP or WIC (Women Infants and Children Program). CSFP applications are available at the main office or the Food Warehouse site.

Free legal aid is from the non-profit. The agency provides help and advice with legal questions through the Pro Bono Lawyer Referral Program. Qualified families and individuals living in both Walla Walla and Columbia Counties are eligible applicants for the program. The services include help with non-criminal, so civil, legal matters.

The center offers a homeless prevention program for veterans, called the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). The Blue Mountain Action Council program provides assistance to veteran families at risk of homelessness. In addition to the homeless prevention resource, Blue Mountain Action Council also provides SSVF Case Management for military members, veterans and their families. The goal of this program is to help them secure housing on their own and pay the rent. It will help create a housing stability plan for clients.

Minor Home Repair from Blue Mountain Action Council is available. The organization is the local contractor for the Home Repair and Rehabilitation Program. This is arranged by the Department of Commerce. Low or very low income households are eligible for the services, which include manufactured or mobile home replacement, home emergency and minor repair, or storm damage repair. To qualify for this resource, households must meet federal government low income guidelines.

Transitional housing is for the homeless people. There are emergency shelters, mostly for single men and women with children. The agency is focused on providing more emergency shelters for homeless people in the community as well, including Walla Wall Washington.

Most transitional housing programs are in nearby towns and counties such as Columbia. They are for homeless people and specialize in serving households who have issues with getting or paying the rent on their home or apartment. For those who are planning to leave homelessness, these financial assistance programs offer services that will help them in the period of stabilization, learning, and planning that follows.

The help is provided to the households who need additional support when it comes to maintaining the housing when leaving their homelessness situation. Such clients usually have characteristics that are known to lower the probability of being able to maintain housing without supports.

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Transition Housing Operating and Rent Program (THOR) is run by the Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC). Eligible lower income or unemployed clients for the program are homeless families with children with up to two years.





The services of the program include emergency rental assistance, case management and transitional facility operating subsidies. The overall objective is to help them achieve permanent housing as well. Other services include getting enrolled into job training, a GED or college degree, obtaining affordable child care, learning job-hunting and interviewing skills, assistance with reestablishing a good credit rating, and locating a job.

Weatherization is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The  WAP program has long served as the core program for delivering free energy conservation services to low-income residents of Washington State. Blue Mountain Action Council, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce, administers it locally and in Walla Walla County.

The overall goal of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to reduce the heating and cooling bills for low-income families. The services provided aim to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and ensure their health and safety.

The priority is given to low-income households. If they have a disabled member, elderly person or children they get priority. Additionally, property owners and even renters are also eligible for the weatherization services. All applicants for any public aid need to meet the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program income guidelines to be eligible. Energy saving services may include air sealing, attic insulation, sidewall and floor insulation, pipe and duct insulation, and limited energy related repairs.

Workforce Investment Act from Blue Mountain Action Council provides the WorkSource Affiliate services to eligible clients. WIA and other state contracts fund this program. The goals of the WIA and the agency are to reduce welfare dependency, improve the quality of the Washington state workforce, and also enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the nation.

These services and assistance programs from the agency include an initial assessment, job search and help with placement assistance. Intensive services from specialists include development of an individual employment plan with a social worker or individual counseling. It is often combined with career planning.

Education is from the Blue Mountain Action Council and the Adult Literacy program. This includes enhancement of the skills of writing, reading, speaking in English, computing, and problem solving.

Volunteer tutors provide individualized assistance for persons working on improving their basic skills. This includes, but is not limited to, writing classes, math skills, one-on-one tutoring in reading and English comprehension. It also coordinates various job search assistance programs. They also help adults learn to read or improve basic skills, as well as prepare for ESL and GED tests.




WorkFirst is the state of Washington's welfare reform program designed to help parents get what they need to prepare for and go to work. State agencies, non-profits and communities make all necessary effort to ensure services and resources families need to be successful.

Participants work 20 hours per week for several months at a nonprofit or governmental agency. They will also engage in employment training and/or job search activities each week. Each participant receives case manager support. This will offer them on-site mentoring and job skills training.

Young people living in the Walla Walla Valley can access training too. Improving employment opportunities for youth is one of the main goals of the program.

Residents, including teenagers ages 16-21 are eligible to apply for the program that provides assistance with pre-employment skills and educational achievement. They are also encouraged to get their high school diploma or GED. After that, they can strive for post-secondary education or advanced skills training. In partnership with local Walla Walla and Garfield area business owners and non-profit agencies, Blue Mountain Action Council provides real-world work experiences.

Location of Blue Mountain Action Council is 1520 Kelly Place, Suite 140, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Call 509.529.4980 for more information or application.


By Jon McNamara

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