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Assistance programs Johnson, Benton, Washington, Iowa, and Jones County

Find information on resources, financial assistance, and other programs that operate in certain Iowa counties, including Benton, Johnson, Iowa, Jones and Washington. Low income families can find financial help from agencies ranging from churches to charities and the government. Find help with paying rent or mortgages, grants to pay utility or heating bills, free food from pantries and more. The emergency financial aid is combined with job programs, free credit or debt counseling as well as other social services.

Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) administers many services for the needy, low income, and working poor. There may be grant money or financial assistance among other resources.

  • The Child and Adult Care Food Program provides healthy food and meals. HACAP works with qualified non-profit providers to bring food and nutrition to the region.
  • Early Head Start and the related Head Start program is also offered for children. The program provides social services and comprehensive child development programs. Children up to age 5 can benefit from one of the Head start programs. The main goal is to improve and enhance school readiness of young children in low-income families.
  • Low-income Heat Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help with paying utility and heating bills. The Emergency Crisis Intervention (ECIP) helps when people are low on or run out of fuel, or have had a disconnection on their service. It can also pay for furnace repairs, maintenance, and replacement. Also learn about utility company initiatives and other general assistance programs in Johnson and Benton Iowa counties.
  • Weatherization can help reduce the amount of your utility bill. Priority is for low income people who live on fixed-incomes, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Embrace Iowa is offered by The Des Moines Register’s. It can provide up to $500 cash grants for bills and expenses such as medical or dental bills, home or automobile repairs.




  • Rent and housing assistance is offered from HPRP. The objective is to prevent homelessness. Short-term financial assistance can be provided by Hawkeye Area Community Action Program to help people from being evicted or losing their homes. Homeowners in Johnson, Benton, and other counties who have been foreclosed on and are moving to a rental property may also receive mortgage assistance. In some cases, HACAP may issue qualified clients with zero interest rate loans that need to be repaid in short order.
  • WIC is administered from the site. This is a federal government public health program that serves children under the age of five as well as pregnant and postpartum women. The WIC program provides nutritious foods, referrals to other health-care agencies, and nutrition education.
  • Jobs for older adults can be provided from Senior Employment Services. This program works with seniors and the elderly who are interested in retooling their job skills and training through the Senior Internship Program (SIP). Resources are offered to help people gain economic self-sufficiency by obtaining a part time job or training.

Hawkeye Area Community Action Program is located at 1515 Hawkeye Drive, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233. Or dial (319) 393-7811. Continue reading emergency assistance from Hawkeye Area Community Action Program.

The Ministerial Association offers general assistance. The non-profit provides assistance for a limited period of time on a temporary basis. Grants and cash can be used to pay for basic needs and emergency bills, such as rent; utilities-gas, electric, and water; interest on original mortgage; burial and funeral costs; and food vouchers. Also Iowa County prescription drug information may be obtained.

  • Iowa County 495 Fourth Avenue, Conroy, IA 52220, phone (319) 662-4245
  • Benton, 303 First Avenue, Vinton, IA 52349, (319) 472-4743
  • Johnson County - General Assistance, 855 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240, (319) 356-6090
  • There are other programs offered too. More on Ministerial Association financial assistance.





Aging Services are offered by Human Services Campus of East Central Iowa. Transportation may be offered to seniors for non-emergency medical appointments, trips to grocery stores, food banks and farmers markets. Get help with chores. Includes home maintenance repairs and work for elderly homeowners, such as small home repairs, yard work, wheel chair ramps, roof repairs, and carpentry/electrical/plumbing projects.  Case management and social work services can help seniors and their families coordinate and arrange community services. Case Managers from Aging Services educate on options and government programs, coordinate referrals to home mentor services and community based providers. Call (319) 398-3644

Iowa County Ministerial Alliance Fund can provides loans for vehicle repairs, rent, utilities, or security deposits. Depending on the exact expense, up to a few hundred dollars can be provided as part of the loan. 504 South Highland, First Oresbyterian Church, Williamsburg, IA 52361, call (319) 668-1375

Benton County families that are struggling or facing a crisis can try the Mid-Iowa Community Action Agency. This non-profit only supports that county. Everything from TBRA to pay security deposits or rent to a dental clinic, Steps to Success for job placement, and gas vouchers may be provided. A strict income guideline is followed as well as clients need to participate in case management. Everyone from senior citizens to the disabled or single parents can get help. More on Mid-Iowa Community Action Agency programs.

Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority – Rental and housing assistance is administered from this location. The agency makes money available to be used to pay rent and utilities for very low income families and the elderly. Clients of the housing authority pay 30% of their adjusted household income for rent and housing. Also get information on public housing for very low income families and the elderly. Telephone number (563) 556-4166, or click here for additional information on government housing authorities.

Operation Threshold – Waterloo operates a number of programs and resources. Apply for repair or replacement of your furnace. Housing counseling is offered, including foreclosure and pre-purchase. People facing an eviction or disconnection of power can receive rent or utility bill assistance. Weatherization can help save money on energy bills and also update homes.

The state of Iowa and federal government WIC program provides nutritious foods such as infant formula, milk, cheese, eggs, breads, cereal, and juice at no cost for families with pregnant women or young children. Family Development can help individuals gain self-sufficiency. Call this Waterloo agency at (319) 291-2065.

Johnson County Commission of Veterans Affairs offers a number of services to veterans. Case workers can help eligible clients apply for benefits that can assist them and their family members. Financial assistance may be offered for funerals or burials. Temporary financial assistance may also be offered for paying utilities, rent, food, mortgage interest, and other bills in a crisis. 855 South Dubuque St., Iowa City, Iowa 52240, call (319) 356-6049.





City of Iowa City runs some programs for residents. Most of them deal with housing issues and needs. Some examples of the programs available include the section 8 voucher program, which is a form of rental assistance. Several other public and low income housing units and apartments are located across the city and county. Another resource is the Housing Rehabilitation program, which can help income qualified residents maintain and update their homes by providing financial assistance to homeowners for repairs and basic improvements. The main office is at 410 East Washington Street, Iowa City, IA 52240. Call (319) 356-5400 for intake.

Water, sewer, and trash bill assistance - This is only for Iowa City and Johnson County. The Utility Payment Assistance Fund as well as charities may offer either grants and/or discounts to struggling customers and the low income. More on Iowa City water bill help.

Goldenrod Hills Community Action can also provide information and resources to counties that border Iowa. Programs they administer or can refer people to include Weatherization and Head Start. The Commodity Supplement Food Program can provide food to infants and children from age one up to their sixth birthday as well as pregnant women or those who recently had a baby.

A food pantry not only provides groceries, food, and meals up to 3 times per year, but also facilitates budgeting assistance. Immunization clinics are operated in the community. Other services include emergency food and shelter, tax preparation, and senior programs. (402) 529-3513. Read more Commodity Supplement Food Program.

Salvation Army of Iowa City is a regional, Christian faith based charity. They have two locations. One is the thrift store (which sells furniture, clothes, household goods, etc.) and the other is the Social Service Center. Everything from emergency financial help to free food or groceries, hot meals, rent or utility bill help, and medications are available. There are also seasonal items including free back to school supplies, Christmas toys, clothes, and Thanksgiving meals. Or try case management, summer camp in Johnson County, or low cost transitional housing. More on Iowa City Salvation Army assistance programs.

Crisis Center of Johnson County administers a number of services and financial assistance programs.

  • Auto repairs and maintenance – Aid for minor car repair, in special circumstances, such as transportation needed for a job.
  • Food and clothing vouchers provide weekly supplemental food bags to Johnson County residents as well as vouchers to thrift and second hand stores for clothes. The center can also provide a food box or meals to help make a healthy holiday meal in December.
  • Financial assistance for basic needs. This includes rent and security deposits. Other funds can helps with paying past due gas, water and electric bills. Money for utility deposits and old bills is offered too.
  • Medical care – Get information on clinics and prescription medication. More on medical bill help.
  • Disaster assistance can provides long term recovery support in natural disasters, such as tornadoes or fires, through case advocacy

1121 Gilbert Court, Iowa City, Iowa 52240, call (319) 351-0128

Local charities, churches, and non-profits offer help during the holidays. Low income families can find free Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving turkeys, holiday food boxes, and more. Thousands get assistance every year. More on free holiday help in Johnson County and Iowa City.







Food banks, free meals and emergency pantries

Benton County Food Pantry dispenses food and meals to needy people in a referral or emergency situation. A county referral is necessary in order to get help from this center. It is located in Vinton Iowa. Call (319) 472-4743.

Our Church Community Church provides a food box to the needy. 1474 Franklin Avenue, Wayland, IA 52654, call (319) 461-0576

Iowa County Food Bank can be reached at (319) 668-2626. The center supplies a five-day supply of food to those with a temporary need in Washington County and nearby areas. Families are allowed to visit a maximum of four times a year per family.

Bread of Life may have food boxes. Open very limited hours. (319) 886-6418

Olin Food Pantry is run by Community United Methodist Church. Meals, food, and groceries are offered to the hungry. 102 West Locust Street, call (319) 484-2668 for information.

Free medical care centers

Light Center for Community Health operates a free or low cost community clinic. The center provides services including physical exams, exams for acute conditions, such as colds, sore throats, flu, and ear infections. Health care is offered for maintenance for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Can also provide laboratory services necessary for diagnosis, referrals to social services and other healthcare facilities and additional medical care as available. 306 Fourth Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa 50112, call (641) 236-2385.

By Jon McNamara











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