Assistance for bills from Pierce County Connection Community Action.

People facing poverty from Pierce County and Tacoma, and that are willing to work towards self-sufficiency, may be able to receive financial help from Pierce County Community Connections Community Action Program. The non-profit offers housing, free food, job training and placement as well as other support services.

The goal is to give families, seniors, and the disabled a hand up, and not a hand out. So in order to receive any government grants for paying bills or other needs, the client needs to work towards self-sufficiency. If someone doesn’t qualify, then linkage to other non-profits in Tacoma Washington may be provided.

The agency has referrals to affordable and low income housing units in Pierce County, and this can be part of the Action Point Service. Many public housing authorities as well as private landlords have apartments and housing units available for rent at an affordable rate.

The community action agency has partnered with other agencies, the state of Washington as well as the federal government to develop rental assistance programs. This is in high demand and many applicants will not qualify.

When funds are available from HUD or other sources, Community Connections may have limited assistance with rent payments available. This can be provided in select situations to help people avoid homelessness or evictions. Furthermore, the agency works with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), private developers, and local municipalities in Pierce County to develop and rehabilitate affordable housing.




Certain recipients of state of Washington funded medical care services may be eligible for the Housing and Essential Needs, or HEN program. This provides non-cash assistance, or even short term loans, for rental expenses and other essential needs, such as personal hygiene items and bus tokens, through grant funds. The disabled may also qualify for this resource. This form of financial assistance is intended for only rent payments, energy bills and a limited type of essential or basic needs.

Access Point for Housing is another resource for the homeless and people facing eviction. There are referrals to emergency shelters, security deposit programs, case management, and money available for back rent from certain public benefits. The number for intake is (253) 682-3401.





Low-income families residing in Pierce County can receive financial support to pay utility or heating bills via LIHEAP, or what is known as Energy Assistance Program in the county. There is a component that is available throughout the year, and there is also a fund dedicated to dealing with a crisis, in particular during the winter months. Households eligible for the federal funded utility or heating bill assistance fund (EAP) must meet specific income guidelines. The number for this is (855) 798-4328.

The non-profit community action agency offers weatherization services to improve the energy efficiency of homes, in particular older residences. Although each eligible home may require unique upgrades, some of the typical air-sealing measures include adding extra floor insulation, installing CFL bulbs, weather stripping installation, caulking, and ceiling, wall insulation.

Contractors will be approved by staff from Pierce County Connections Community Action. When they perform these free weatherization services, they will also address health and safety issues by testing indoor air quality and repairing heating systems when needed. All energy efficiency measures are done at no cost to the applicant. Also, everything will be installed according to cost-effectiveness, established technical specifications and any local applicable building codes. Find more information on the weatherization program and what it can do for the low income.

Very low income families, including senior citizens and the disabled in Pierce County, can explore home-repair services. There may be help for repairing a furnace, patches to roofs, and even upgrades to appliances. For more significant repairs, the agency has low interest loans for homeowners, and this can often be combined with weatherization as well.

There are also dental clinics in the region of Tacoma Washington as well. Community Action Agency can offer referrals to these centers, or other affordable medical care. Dentists, hygienists, and others from the region will provide free dental care within the agencies service territory. The services are available to children, the uninsured and adults.

While the exact type of assistance offered at each location will vary, in general consultations and X-rays are included during both initial examinations and any emergency treatments that are needed. The clinics in Washington accepts insurance provided through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), as well as private insurance. In most cases, the medical centers in the area determine fees using a sliding scale based upon income levels.




The clinics will try to accommodate dental emergencies on a daily basis and urges patients to call the clinic prior to any needed appointments. This needs to be done to help ensure that they bring the requisite information.

Help from food and meal programs in Pierce County

Food programs from pantries and soup kitchens are administered, along with free holiday meals. The agency partners with local charities and churches in an effort to eliminate hunger through the food distribution project. Some of what may be available in pantries across Piece County include free canned vegetables, dry goods, tuna and peanut butter. These are just some of the foods provided by USDA surplus commodities.

Qualified individuals, children, and the elderly receive packages from food banks. Not only that, but local soup kitchens use the commodities to prepare congregate meals for needy persons as well as senior citizens and their spouses. It is recommended to call in advance as the operational schedules of the pantries and soup kitchens in the county vary.

Working with the community action agency, the government administers the WIC - Women, Infants and Children program for eligible residents. The WIC program serves working poor, low-income, nutritionally vulnerable pregnant women as well as children. Clients must be residents of Washington state as well as the county and satisfy income guidelines. In addition, a WIC certifier or registered dietitian must determine that clients are at medical or nutritional risk. If qualified, free formula and other items are provided.





Community action programs focused on seniors and the disabled

Another focus of Connections Community Action is on the elderly and/or the disabled. Some of the case management services available from professionals include Family Caregiver Support, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Transportation to the store or a medical appointment. There are  also a number of government funded Developmental Disabilities Programs.

Pierce County community action can only do so much on their own. So it may be food, some home care, and grants, but they do not process applications for SSI or offer direct financial aid. For those that need it, find more resources that may offer the disabled help.

In addition to all of the programs above, the council collaborates with other local agencies and service providers to disseminate information and make referrals to dozens of other resources. By doing so, Pierce County Connection Community Action is able to connect individuals and families with the assistance they need. Locations are 3602 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, or call (253) 798-6266.


By Jon McNamara

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