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Central Wisconsin Community Action Council assistance programs.

The working poor and struggling in Juneau, Dodge, Columbia, Sauk, and Adams County Wisconsin can turn to the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council for assistance. The non-profit agency is involved in offering short term aid, referrals, and support to the needy.

Typical clients include low income families with children, seniors, and the unemployed. Clients need to be willing to gain self-sufficiency and get back on track. While they do that, some funds may be offered for paying utility bills, providing food, housing, and other social services.

Housing and heating assistance in Wisconsin

Utility and heating assistance from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides grants and support to low-income residents of Adams, Juneau and Waushara Counties. The federally funded program and payment issues is provided once a year to very low income families and seniors.

HEAP also provides crisis assistance to income qualified residents who require additional fuel or need to repair or replace their furnace or heating system. This assistance is subject to availability of funds. Case Managers from Central Wisconsin Community Action Council (CWCAC) remain on call even during off hours and can be contacted through the local sheriff's department when crisis assistance is required. find more details on applying for WHEAP utility bill help.

Another key program is the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WX. It provides energy efficiency assistance along with conservation, health and safety measures to homeowners or renters in areas such as Columbia, Adams, Juneau and Sauk Counties. It is usually for those that are at/or below 150% poverty guidelines. Through this program, residents can get financial assistance for attic and sidewall insulation, air sealing and free smoke detectors as well as assistance for water heaters, refrigerator and furnace replacement. WX is funded through state of Wisconsin funds as well as the State Department of Administration - Division of Energy.





CWCAC Down Payment Assistance for Home Buyers is available to residents of Adams, Columbia, Dodge, Juneau and Sauk Counties. Through this program, households with members who have a disability and whose total income does not exceed 80% of their County Median level can benefit from loans or grants. The funds will be used for down payment and/or closing costs assistance toward a home purchase.

Central Wisconsin Community Action Council and The Home Repair Program provides financial assistance (in the form of short term loans) to households in the region, including Adams, Columbia, Dodge, Juneau and Sauk. Rehabilitation funds and loans help homeowners to do necessary home repairs and accessibility modifications based on the family's specific needs. All modifications and repairs must meet the federal government HUD Housing Quality Standards.

CDBG, or the Community Development Block Grant Program, offers financial assistance to homeowners from select towns and municipalities who need to do major repairs including septic replacement and/or well repair/replacement amongst others. Only low income and working poor households who earn less than 80% of County Median Income are eligible.

Transitional and short term housing from Project Chance provides assistance to recently evicted or homeless families or individuals funded by a HUD Continuum of Care Grant. The housing program aims to help participants improve their skills and their earnings capacity, find employment, achieve greater self-determination and obtain and retain permanent housing. It last for up to 24 months and program participants work directly with their case manager who helps connect them with housing, job search and employment and other benefits such as SNAP Food Stamps or SSI, counseling for mental health care, childcare, education/job skills training, or AODA issues.

Project Chance also helps clients with contacts and/or opportunities for education, employment, free medical/dental/physical exams/prescriptions, household goods and transportation assistance by entering into contracts with individual landlords on the clients’ behalf.

The non-profit Central Wisconsin Community Action Council relies on the United Way Fund as well. This is one of the main sources of funding. Money is sourced from Wisconsin Dells Area United Fund, United Way of Portage, Baraboo Area United Fund, the United Way of Dodge County and Inner Wisconsin (for Adams County).




The funds and grants that that are received are used to help families and individuals with paying their rent or mortgage and to provide emergency shelter stays for those who need it. Thus, if you need rent or mortgage assistance then you must prove you are working. Much of the aid is very limited. Those who wish to avail of motel stay or vouchers must show proof of homelessness.

The rental and mortgage payment Crisis Assistance Program provides one-time rent or mortgage assistance to households who are facing a crisis. The program gets their funding from several different sources including the federal government Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the United Way and their Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG). The key criteria for approving applications include availability of funds and the crisis-resolving capacity of the applicant as well as a few other factors.

ESFP is a restricted federal grant governed by a National Board. Program expenses and bills paid for are restricted to meals, assistance with rent, heating bills, mortgage and utilities. Other expenses can include shelter in the form of motel/hotel vouchers. Central Wisconsin Community Action Council is heaving involved in administering this. Local Boards are then summoned to determine how the funds can best be used and to select Local Recipient Organizations (LRO's) that will be responsible for administering emergency food and the shelter services.

Needs are determined and reassessed annually in an effort to adapt to local community needs. Rental assistance is provided to individuals or families with a five-day eviction notice and verification of employment or motel stays are provided to homeless individuals or families. If not qualified, then the team at Central Wisconsin Community Action Council can provide referrals to other rent programs or grants.

Subsidized housing assistance may also be offered from the federally funded Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Applications are processed by CWCAC.  It provides more longer term rent assistance to eligible households in Wisconsin, including Adams, Columbia, Rusk and Taylor Counties.

Depending on the amount of funds and government grants available, the amount of vouchers disbursed may vary during the contract period. A separate waiting list is maintained for each county with an average wait time ranging from 1 to 4 years as the program and vouchers are in such high demand. Any applicant who is approved and who receives a voucher is required to lease up for a minimum of one year in the county that they have applied for. Any type of private rental unit is permissible by the client provided that it meets the housing quality standard inspection as well as the payment limits as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD agency.

Central Wisconsin Community Action Council employment and education resources

Car Loans are part of the Wisconsin Employment Transportation Assistance Program. The program provides no-interest car loans for workers in Adams, Columbia, Sauk, Waushara and Dodge Counties. Employed residents of these counties whose household income is at or below 200% of Federal Government Poverty levels are eligible to apply for this car loan.





The Sauk County Children First Program was created to offer short term and other support assistance to non-custodial parents who are finding it difficult to meet their child support obligations. The program is a partnership between Sauk County Department of Human Services, the local Child Support bureau, Judicial System, and the non-profit Central Wisconsin Community Action Council. Participant and their Case Manager meet weekly as they look for work, attend job training or are working.

Other assistance and referrals may be offered as well by the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, Inc. The main locations are as follows.

Columbia County, 203 De Witt St, Portage, Wisconsin 53901 at phone number 608-742-3320
Adams County, 1874 Hwy 13, P.O. Box 647, Friendship, Wisconsin 53934, dial 608-339-0273
Juneau County, 1 Kennedy St., PO Box 253, Mauston, Wisconsin 53948, call 608-847-1124 for information.
Sauk County, 505 Broadway, West Square Building, P.O. Box 730, Baraboo, WI 53913, telephone number is 608-355-4810
Dodge County, 134 S. Spring St., Beaver Dam, WI 53916 at phone no: 920-885-9559
Waushara County, 220A Oakridge Ct., Wautoma, Wisconsin 54982, dial 920-787-064


By Jon McNamara


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