HELP, Inc. financial assistance programs.

Both low income as well as the homeless in Riverside County can get assistance from HELP, Inc. The main resources include providing food, housing, and support for basic needs. All of the funding available in Riverside is limited, but the non-profit will do its best to support the needy.

One of the main functions is to provide, for free, basic food pantry items furnished by the USDA - United States Department of Agriculture. This is a service that is available to low income and homeless Riverside County residents.

Beyond the federally supplied USDA commodities, the organization will also donate funds to purchase groceries from sources such as Second Harvest national food bank program to supplement the menu and make the selection of meals and groceries more nutritionally balanced.

Another option is for a client to get a referral to a regional pantry in southern California. Or HELP will also often partner with volunteers from local churches, charities, businesses, and organizations to serve homeless guests a hot meal that meets one-third of daily nutrition requirements. There is also applications and help for completing government benefits, such as SNAP / CalFresh.

The HELP, Inc. Feed-a-Family Homeless Prevention Program provides a supply of canned or fresh food, and even frozen items, that are sufficient to feed a family up to several meals per week, depending on donation levels. To be eligible for this program, the applicant needs to present photo ID, a Food Stamp/SNAP status letter, meet income limits, have a current rent receipt or utility bill, and present Social Security cards for everyone in the household, regardless of age or income.

Many other assistance programs and services are available from HELP in Riverside County, as noted below.

Financial assistance, including loans, can be paid out. This is strictly dependent on availability of funding. In some cases, HELP can assist with past due rent or utility bills. There may also be grants to help the homeless find low income apartments in the region, and the money may be used for paying a portion of security deposits.




The HELP, Inc. short term shelter offers up to six months of lodging and support services to homeless families or single parents. There is also case management that is necessary for gaining stability and moving on to more secure living arrangements. Support services include classes that teach financial skills and family dynamics, day care and tutoring for children, and meals.

Low cost medical care is offered with local clinics and volunteer doctors. There are services and referrals also provided by a Registered Nurse on a full-time basis. Available services include immunizations, wound care, physicals, treatment of injuries and illnesses, Mental Health Services in partnership with SMA, and fast-track referrals for more serious cases. There may also be help in obtaining prescription medications.

Other aid includes bus passes to get to work, bicycles for the homeless, Internet and Telephone Access, haircuts, and even help in obtaining documents that may be needed for work, such as a license or birth certificate.

In some years, the Federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program may have additional grants that HELP can use to assist with financial needs. There may be additional funds for mortgage or paying back rent. There is also support as part of a utility bill assistance program that is run in partnership with the city of Banning, California, and it can assist with electric or gas bills, among other expenses.

The Thrift Store from HELP, Inc. stocks a large selection of clothing for women, men, children, and infants, as well as a wide variety of small household items, such as table lamps, knick-knacks, books, kitchen gadgets, vases, linens, and holiday seasonal items.

In times of bad or cold weather in California, the Thrift Store typically has free sleeping bags and blankets available to distribute at no charge to the homeless and people facing poverty. The non-profit will also operate a year-round free clothing closet, where it has free items for newborns or babies and other clients of the center can select up to six items for their personal use.




Another resource is the local Christmas Boutique, which opens each year just before Thanksgiving. For those low income families that qualify for help, it has an array of toys, winter coats, stuffed animals, gifts, games, and holiday apparel. Some very low income may receive free items, but most items are sold.

For more information, HELP, Inc. may be able to answer questions or provide referrals. The main center is at 53 South 6th St., Banning, California 92220, dial 951-922-2305.


By Jon McNamara

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