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Assistance programs in Otter Tail County.

Find how to get help with bills, rent, food/nutritional needs, medical care, security deposits, and more. The main churches, charities, and non-profits to apply at for help in Otter Tail County are listed below. Low income families as well as struggling households can get either (1) financial assistance or (2) free stuff (such as clothes, foreclosure counseling, etc.). Find out more below.

If you need help paying bills, such as energy or assistance, or information on housing programs and other resources, call the non-profit Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council. A sampling of the programs they run or administer or listed below.

Assistance paying energy and heating bills

The agency administers this Energy Assistance Program, which is primarily funded by the government. The program helps low-income families, the working poor, and unemployed meet their home heating bills and pay for their expenses during the winter. All types of heat are eligible for assistance from the energy assistance program. 

General assistance for bills and expenses

The community action agency offers a division or program known as Family Services. This can provide assistance with the following.

Emergency and crisis assistance - Multiple emergency homelessness prevention and eviction assistance services are offered including help for rent, rent and security deposits, heating and utility payment assistance, and money for utility deposits.

Car loan program - If you are having difficulty in getting a car loan from a bank or dealer, the agency can help people receive funding at competitive rates. Also, click here for additional loan programs.

Mortgage help and foreclosure prevention - Immediate needs can be met by a counselor, and they will help homeowners develop a plan to meet housing needs, including foreclosure prevention. Services offered by the agency may consist of information on mortgage assistance programs and referral services, financial management, and advocacy on your behalf with your bank, lenders and/or mortgage company. More on Minnesota mortgage programs.




Information - One of the great things about a community action agency is the information and resources they can provide. They can direct people to programs such as food assistance, government low income programs, and other resources for the unemployed and working poor.

Weatherization assistance - Cash grants and financial are available to help low income households reduce heating costs. The program is free to qualified homeowners. Some of the programs offered include furnace and water heater inspections, repairs or replacements, Weatherstripping and air sealing, caulking, and more more.

Child care - The agency can help people find low cost or free child care.

All of the above programs are offered by Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council. They also provide more then what is mentioned. Call the New York Mills based agency at (218) 385-2900.

Non-profit agencies in Otter Tail County

Two other non-profit agencies to call, that may have some programs for the area include West Central Minnesota Communities Action Inc. (phone (218) 685-4485) as well as Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership, Inc. (dial (218) 299-7000). Call them for information and help.

Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership is another agency that can help the less fortunate in Fergus Falls and across the county. Several different assistance programs are offered by the organization. They offer several housing resources including transitional housing, shelter, and funds for rent. Homeless prevention is always a priority in Minnesota.

Low income families can also get advice on, and referrals to, government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Budgeting and credit classes are available in Otter County, including Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota. Or apply for heating bill assistance. Those are just a few examples of what may be available. Find information on Lakes and Prairies Community Action resources.





Regional Salvation Army centers can help the less fortunate. Heating bill assistance may be offered as part of statewide HeatShare program. A number of other assistance resources and emergency programs are available in the area.

  • Food pantries may have free boxes of food, groceries, and holiday items. These are often combined with free clothing closets.
  • Shelter, transitional housing, and rental programs are available.
  • Case managers also provide referrals to other Otter County Minnesota non-profits and charities.
  • For more information on these or other Salvation Army resources, click here.

By Jon McNamara

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