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Island and San Juan County assistance programs.

The Island and San Juan County Opportunity Council offers a number of services for the low income and people faced with poverty. Short term aid is offered at the same time that an individual will be working with a social worker or case manager for longer term support.

Transitional housing or shelter is offered, along with related support services for families. The housing facilities and units in San Juan and Island Counties include both short-term (30-60 days) and transitional housing. (1-2 years). Emergency assistance may be provided if a local family or individual has no other options and all other rental and housing programs are exhausted.  Participants also need to agree to case management and counseling.

Emergency rental assistance to prevent an eviction. The community action agency may be able to help people with an eviction notice. If you have received an eviction notice from your landlord and are at risk of becoming homeless, some resources may be made available to address the crisis. Click here for additional information on rent programs.

Essential products and household needs – This includes help, money and vouchers with obtaining cleaning supplies (such as laundry and dish soap), bus passes and tickets, and personal health and hygiene items (such as toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper). These items can be provided through certificates, gift cards, or vouchers.

Security deposits and first month’s rent – Financial assistance is available to individuals and families who are transitioning from homelessness to stable, permanent housing.

Rent help - A subsidy for paying rent and housing may be available for one month. Several factors need to be looked at, including the family’s income, number of household members, and their commitment to receive counseling from a Client Services Representative.

Early Head Start and Head Start are both offered for children from low income families in Island and San Juan. The program was created to meet the needs of pregnant women, toddlers, infants and their families. Services offered by Head Start include family development support, education and support for expectant parents, health and nutrition services, group socialization and home visits focusing on quality early education and child development.





Work First Employment Programs - Offers job training and skill development as an avenue to part time and ideally full time jobs for state of Washington TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) recipients.

General housing programs – Cash grants can be used for housing expenses including security deposits, monthly rent, home repairs, overdue rent and even service animal deposits. Grants for utilities assistance is offered too, however this is limited to electricity, utility deposits, natural gas, sewer, water, and garbage expenses and bills. The resource provides up to 90-days rental assistance to homeless families or people on the verge of eviction in Island or San Juan County with children under the age of 18 for up to 90 days.

Provides utility and electric bill assistance to people in Island or San Juan County who are within certain poverty guidelines or less.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help renters or low income homeowners with their heating and electric bills. Money can also pay for heating or cooling system repair costs. Households qualifying for LIHEAP can receive up to $1000 for paying their primary heat source and bills.

Provides government commodities and supplemental food and groceries for members of the community in need.

Weatherization provides low income families with energy saving and conservation measures to local homeowners and their dwellings. This will include air sealing, insulation, venting, and anything else to help make the home more energy efficient. Upgrades can include indoor air quality, health and safety testing; low-flow shower heads and hot water tank wrap; broken window and glass replacement; extra insulation of pipes, ceiling, walls, floors, and ducts; and air sealing.

Home improvement programs for the disabled and seniors can include mobile home repairs; handicap accessibility; new roofs or repairs; and health and safety improvements.

Financial Literacy and Renter Education (F.L.A.R.E.) - This will help families learn how to save money, budget, improve credit, and address other financial education skills. Read more Washington credit counseling.





School Supply Bank - Donations from the community can help children acquire school supplies if they are in very low-income families or are homeless.

The Opportunity Council community action agency is located at 1111 Cornwall Avenue, Suite C, Bellingham, Washington 98225-5039. Or dial (360) 734-5121. All of the services listed above are administered by this organization. Read more Opportunity Council.

DSHS - Community Services Offices - Island County is located at 275 SE Pioneer Way, Suite 201, Oak Harbor, WA, 98277. The phone number is (187) 750 - 1223, and the programs and services administered are below.

  • Pregnancy Care Services - Financial and cash assistance for pregnant women whose income is at or below 185% of the Federal Government Poverty Level and who can’t qualify for TANF.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF/WorkFirst) - Families with minor children can receive medical bill assistance and grants.  Pregnant and parenting minors may be eligible for government aid from TANF if they meet established eligibility requirements.
  • Emergency Assistance can be provided for income qualified individuals for certain expenses, such as rent help, utility bills such as electric, heating, and gas, eviction prevention, and security deposits. If someone has an eviction notice or imminent utility shut off, or if they are homeless, they may more likely to qualify. AREN payments can also be made, and it can be up to $750.
  • Aged Blind and Disabled is financial assistance for people who are blind, with a disability, or who are age 65 or older.
  • Diversion Cash Assistance is another cash grant program that is intended to stop people from having to enroll in public or government assistance. Money can pay for housing, rent, transportation, child care, food and employment-related expenses. Staff from the DCS may also refer to other social service programs in San Juan or Island County. This can include food pantries, domestic violence services, and clothing banks.
  • Refugee Cash Assistance can be paid to qualified families for their first eight months.




Gifts from the Heart Food Bank runs a pantry for anyone in the community of Coupeville and Greenbank. During the Christmas and Thanksgiving season they distribute food baskets and meals. 203 N Main St
Coupeville, WA, 98239, dial (360) 678 - 8312

Whidbey Food Bank is another local pantry. Call the Langley center at (360) 221 - 6454

North Whidbey Help House is a USDA commodities distribution site and a local food bank. Address is 1091 SE Hathaway St, Oak Harbor, Washington, 98277, call (360) 675 - 0681

Stanwood Camano Food Bank is also a government surplus food distribution site. Call (360) 629 - 2789 for intake.

Island County residents - There are many other agencies in the area that offer services. Families can call upon a pantry for free groceries or meals, and the department of social services can offer cash assistance or applications to government aid. Or learn about housing and educational services. Find more Island County assistance programs.


By Jon McNamara

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