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Assistance programs in Columbia and Richland County South Carolina.

There are numerous charities, non-profit agencies, churches and other organizations that people can turn to for help in Columbia and Richland County South Carolina. Call or visit these location to learn how to get and apply for emergency financial assistance and other resources. Locate rent help, grants for paying utility bills, free boxes of food, medical or dental care and more.

There are also free items and services in the region that are often combined with financial aid. This includes items such as Christmas toys, furniture, as well as prescription drugs for free. Or single moms may get resources and parents from working poor households can get free back to school supplies or even job placement and training.

Financial help for bills in Richland County

The Cooperative Ministry, which can be reached at 803-799-3853, is a non-profit agency in the area that offers many services to clients. Some of the programs they offer include Emergency Assistance, the C.A.R. Program, and The Clothing and Furniture Bank. In addition to these assistance programs mentioned, they also offer several Seasonal Projects, such as School Supply Drive, the Homeless Service Center, and also the Circle of Giving. More Cooperative Ministry programs in Richland County.

While the overall goal of the agency is to minimize homelessness, provide rent help and other assistance to those in poverty and people who are struggling, there are other resources that can help families with low income. Click here to find additional low income programs.

Receive dental care, credit counseling, and other assistance from The Family Service Center of South Carolina. This organizations offers many different resources, including they provide free dental clinic services for adults and children, debt and consumer credit counseling, adoption placement, counseling and support, adolescent pregnancy prevention, information on credit card hardship programs, and career development and job training assistance for adults, dislocated workers and teenagers. 803-733-5450.

Another option is Columbia South Carolina based churches. There are several that support the general Midlands area. They deal with people on a case by case basis, and the non-profit agency provides low income and elderly with utility and cooling bill assistance. One of the parishes may also coordinate free counseling, assistance with domestic violence situations, and run a car donation transportation assistance program.




Churches across Richland County provide other support as well as part of the regional organization. There are clothing closets for free Christmas or holiday gifts as well as food pantries. Referrals to financial support and immigration services are available too. More on help from Midlands churches.

Sharing God's Love is based in Irmo. The non-profit agency offers limited emergency assistance to low income and individuals and families in crisis or who are facing a hardship. Find information and get help with free food, clothing, gasoline vouchers, utility bills and prescriptions. Call (803) 732-3188.

Columbia SC area emergency rent help and shelters - Whether you need help avoiding eviction, or if you are currently homeless, the Richland County region has dozens of organizations (both private and public) that specialize in offering rental and housing assistance. Read more on emergency rent help in Richland County.

Free health care in Columbia

Two of the leading community clinics are noted below. They may offer prescription medications, check ups, child medical care, and much more. Some services may be free of charge. Call one of the centers below, or find more free clinics in Richland County.

People with no or limited insurance, and low income individuals, can get health care from the Free Medical Clinic Inc. This agency provides quality healthcare and other services for free to residents of the community who cannot pay for their medical or hospital bills and who do not have health insurance. They support almost 20,000 people each and every year.





The regional Free Medical Clinic is a United Way partner agency, and the center provides primary health care, medications and prescription drugs, patient education with the capability to refer for laboratory and diagnostic testing and refer to providers in 24 different specialties. The free agency will also offer advice on how to deal with medical debt collectors and also information on patient advocacy services. The clinic has  millions of dollars of prescription medications for free to patients. 803-765-1503.

Richland Primary Health Care offers health care and the amount billed is on a sliding fee, and is based on the patients income. They provide basic health care and check ups, including dental care, primary medical care, and much more. (803) 799-8407. Find additional programs that offer medical care.

Help finding a job and financial aid

Goodwill Industries of Upper South Carolina can help people find and keep a job. The Wheels-to-Work, Goodwill-Bucks, and Gears-for-go-Getters programs provide work and interview clothing as well as transportation for individuals to help them find and secure the employment they need to meet their family’s needs. The service can also help clients increase their household income levels

The organization generally helps thousands of people with their job search and employment goals. There are also a number of freelance websites that good will uses for clients. The individuals who have been placed into jobs and  employment opportunities have had a combined annual wage increase of thousands of dollars  They offer over 10 training programs. 864-351-0100.

For Columbia SC area families that need an immediate increase in income, they have options too. there are survey sites, marketing opportunities, side gig jobs, and much more. Goodwill can help them locate opportunities as well. Even locate information on starting hobbies for making money.

Right Direction Community Support Center provides help with job training, interview skills, computer training, a computer lab, and job counseling. Phone (803) 451-2139.

Carolina Community Action offers utility bill assistance from weatherization and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Employment services are provided from Workforce Investment Act (WIA) welfare to work program and general job training. Prescription and rent assistance is offered too. (803) 635-3606.

Free basic needs, furniture, household supplies, clothes and other items can be provided to low income families for free. Charities are involved in collecting surplus items from the public. They then pass out the goods to low income families or those who are facing a crisis.

The supplies, including for school or work, may be given for free or a low cost. There are also free furniture banks in Columbia for bedroom sets, family room furniture, appliances and more. Find more details on free clothing closets, furniture and school supplies in Richland County.

Wateree Community Actions, Inc. of Richland County offers several other resources as well to the poor and low income. Emergency assistance is offered for housing needs, including rent and utilities. Much of the aid is offered as part of the General Emergency Assistance Program (GEAP).





In some cases, clients need short term funds. This may be a loan for paying bills (such as car repairs) or job placement services. Wateree can help give advice on these solutions. As an example, find places for loans.

Wateree Community Actions also helps address financial stability. Whether it is free counseling on paying down credit card debts or auto loans, saving money, or building a financial future, workshops and classes are offered. All of this is free in Richland County.

The Homeless Prevention Program offers rental assistance to qualified people with an eviction notice and landlord/tenant mediation. Re-housing services, which may sometimes be issued as a loan, include hotel and motel vouchers, funds for paying security deposits, and moving cost assistance. Transitional and short term housing is also part of what WCAI administers in Columbia County.

The non-profit processes applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This federal program can help pay cooling bills during the summer or heating costs in the winter. It is often offered along with free conservation from weatherization. Both focus on low income families with children, seniors, and the disabled. Another high demand service is Head Start which can promote the school readiness of children under the age of 5. The program can enhance their emotional, educational, and overall social development.

Call the community action agency at (803) 786-4250 or stop by 3220 Two Notch RD, Columbia, SC 29204. Or learn more Wateree Community Actions agency.

Richland County Veterans Affairs helps dependents, veterans, and their survivors file claims for benefits. It also offers advocacy, information on health care and more. 1701 Main St., Columbia, SC 29202. Call (803) 576-1906

Midlands Catholic Charities covers counties including Richland. They offer everything from free personal hygiene (laundry, soap, etc.) to free clothes for a job or school. Catholic Charities also assist pregnant women or immigrants with food, legal aid, diapers or formula. Or homeless shelters in Columbia or limited financial help is offered too. More on Catholic Charities assistance programs Columbia SC region.

Community Assistance Provider focuses on housing issues. This includes emergency and owner-occupied home rehabilitation for those who qualify, low income housing, mortgage and foreclosure assistance through SC Help, and funds for rent. (803) 771-0050

Tenants facing eviction, or the currently homeless, can get help. Federal government supported programs are available on occasion in an effort to provide homeless prevention and rehousing. There may be financial help for paying bills ranging from water to rent or moving costs.

Applicants need to meet income limits and participate in case management to receive money or counseling. Individuals ranging from single mothers to senior citizens and other vulnerable residents often apply. Funds are often provided first come and served, and do run out. Read Richland County eviction assistance.







South Carolina Lutheran Family Services can help with some basic needs, in particular housing. They are part of one of the nation's leading, faith based non-profit charity organizations. Most of the focus of the agency is on assisting with housing needs, including for the disabled, children, veterans and seniors. Get information on shelters, temporary transitional housing, and homeless prevention. Read more Lutheran Family Services in Mindlands SC.

Hope Community Learning Center assists with basic needs. This includes college and career planning, clothing, Tutoring, Food, and even SAT/ACT prep for the poor and low income. 1234 St. Andrews Rd, Columbia, South Carolina 29210. Call the non-profit at (803) 451-2139.

Columbia Housing Authority can provide information on and help place families and individuals in low cost rental housing. This includes, but is not limited to, section 8 housing vouchers. This program will help pay, or subsidize, a portion of your overall housing costs for those who can’t afford market rates in Richland County. Another resource is the Conventional Home Ownership Program, which can help families buy a home. (803) 254-3886

Richland County DSS administers state and federal government benefits. Some of the main ones include cash grants from Family Independence as well as SNAP food stamps. However, there are many other programs available, including for the disabled and working poor in Columbia and nearby cities. There is Medicaid, TANF cash aid, and others. Continue Richland County public assistance.

Columbia area shelters and transitional housing can help both the homeless and residents that are facing imminent eviction. Services such as job placement, free meals, and of course temporary housing is provided, and social workers from the charities or the local government will help the client gain long term stability. More on low income housing in Richland County.

Housing counseling and mortgage help

Wateree Community Actions, Inc. is the local community action agency that can help people avoid a foreclosure. They have professionals on site who can provide mediation services between a homeowner and their lender, with the ultimate goal of provide some type of mortgage relief. Contact them at (803) 775-4354, or learn about programs such as the SC hardest hit fund.

The South Carolina Foreclosure Counseling Program is another option. Click here to read more, or dial (888) 320-0350. They can help people deal with debt, and delinquent mortgages. Or more on South Carolina foreclosure help.

Richland County Salvation Army

The Columbia and Richland Salvation Army (803-765-0260) has been serving individuals and families in the Columbia area for over 100 years. The Salvation Army administers several programs, including they provide emergency and crisis grants to pay bills and rent. There is free shelter for men and women, social services for those in need of financial assistance, eviction prevention services, children’s programs, Christmas and holiday assistance and emergency disaster services. Seasonal services also include free school supplies as well as backpacks. Continue with Columbia Salvation Army assistance programs.

Free legal representation and assistance

The primary goal of South Carolina Legal Services is to provide civil legal services and free advice to protect the rights and represent the interests of low to middle income South Carolinian citizens. It is the vision of the attorneys at South Carolina Legal Services to allow all low income South Carolinians people to have full and fair access to justice and support they need. Click here to find more information on free South Carolina legal programs.





Free food in Columbia and Richland County

Angel Food Ministries, Inc. - Midlands provides a significant amount of food at a very low prices. Discoutns and coupons can be given too. Both fresh and frozen items are offered by the program, and the organization is a nationally based group. (803) 254-8786

An organization that works with local churches, charities, and non-profits in the county is Harvest HOPE Food Bank. Call them at (803) 254-4432. They can direct you to food distribution points in your area, and they have strong partnerships across Columbia. There are many other resources for feeding families, children, and adults too. Even try a local Meals on Wheels program near you.

God's Storehouse runs a food pantry, provides clothing, and offers groceries at most once per month. Call (803) 691-1622.

Families have many other places to turn to for free or affordable food. Non-profit pantries and distribution centers also pass out groceries, serve hot meals, offer clothing, and provide other support. More Richland County free food pantries.


By Jon McNamara

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