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Assistance programs Stearns County.

Below you will find information on how to get help in Saint Cloud and Stearns County Minnesota. Various non-profits, charity organizations, churches, and other groups provide grants, assistance for paying utility such as utility and heating, and housing assistance. There is also free food from pantries or assistance from medical professionals at clinics, free vouchers for clothes or medications or school supplies, and many other types of support.

The goal is to help families get financial help as well as get back on track with their bills. To this end, Stearns County agencies may also provide car loan help for borrowers with bad credit or help families pay down debts or get a job. There are also free personal hygiene supplies, clothes for work, and general case management services in the region.

Housing and debt counseling

One of the agencies to contact is Catholic Charities Financial and Housing Counseling. This organization will assist families and individuals to help them take control of their finances. For example, programs and advice can help them deal with debt and mortgage problems. If you are accepted as a client, a qualified Financial Counselor works one on one with each client to develop an individualized plan to help them reach their financial goals. 320-650-1660, or find more information on mortgage payment assistance.

Two other places that provide mortgage help and foreclosure prevention services include Tri-CAP (their number is below), as well as Village Financial Resource Center, which can be reached at 1-800-450-4019.

Programs that offer financial assistance

The local Stearns and Saint Cloud community action agency is the Tri-County Action Program, Inc. (Tri-CAP). This non-profit offers various programs to help people through difficult times. The services offered include.




  • Help for heating bills - They administer the Energy Assistance Program (EAP) which will help income eligible households with paying a portion of their home heating bills during the winter. If your income is to high for EAP, you may be able to qualify for Reach Out for Warmth (ROFW). This program provides help for heating expenses, and the income requirements are not as strict as EAP.
  • Weatherization - This program will help people reduce their home energy bills.
  • Housing assistance - TRICAP offers loans for various housing expenses, such as rent, as well as coordinates transitional housing in Stearns County.
  • Homeless assistance - The Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) helps people who are undergoing an eviction or who may be homeless today. The program provides services such as first month's rent, budget or debt counseling, and funds that assist with damage deposits.
  • Food - This can be provided by local pantries and case managers can direct low income families to applications for SNAP food stamps.
  • Free basic needs - Tri-Cap helps low income families meet basic needs. That may be clothes, free personal hygiene items, work attire, diapers, and furniture. They can all help families save money. Even find help from free furniture banks.
  • Mortgage and rent help - The federal government funded Emergency Food and Shelter Program helps people who are faced with losing their home. Grants from the program can provide rent or mortgage assistance.
  • Budget and financial literacy is available from FAIM and other classes.

Call the Tri-County Action Program, Inc. (Tri-CAP) at (320) 251-1612. There are many other emergency programs administered, based on funding and money raised from the community. Continue with Tri-County Action Program financial assistance.

Another St. Cloud based organization that partners with Tr-Cap includes the Salvation Army (320-252-4552). Together they help the poor and vulnerable.





Stearns County Catholic Charity - A number of churches, non-profits, and other organizations are part of and contribute to the Catholic Charity organization. Most of the aid offered is meant to address basic needs. For example, the charity may provide items such as free food, prescription medications, and clothing. Special seasonal programs can provide free Christmas assistance, such as toys and meals to lower income families.

Housing can be offered, including shelters and short term transitional housing. While more limited in Stearn County Minnesota, some financial help may be offered in a crisis. This can be for items such as rent, heating bills, or even gasoline. Read more on Catholic Charities in Stearns County.

Federal government job training programs are available in Stearns County. They are paid for by WIA grants and run in partnership with the state of Minnesota. There are various services offered, including:

  • Laptop computers as well as use of a computer lab.
  • Some Stearns County residents need transportation for a job, but they can’t afford a car loan or payment. Or their credit does not allow it. Learn more on loan help for borrowers with bad credit.
  • Resume review, job fairs in Saint Cloud area, and counseling.
  • Training for health care careers, IT, web development, and more.
  • Find a list of other government job training resources.

St. Cloud Salvation Army – Offers energy, electric and heating bill assistance from a program known as HeatShare. Limited financial assistance may be offered for other needs as well, such as rent. Heatshare program is a last resort energy assistance program for paying heating bills in a crisis.

Other resources provided can include free food, clothing, back to school supply giveaways, and free Christmas toy assistance. 400 Highway 10 S, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 56304, telephone (320) 252-4552. Click more St. Cloud Salvation Army assistance programs.

Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Cloud – Administers the Bridges rental/housing assistance program. It was created to serve as a temporary rental assistance to help people avoid homelessness or evictions while they are on a waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers The non-profit may also have information on security deposit assistance as well as low income apartments in Strearns County.

Bridges/ Ending Long Term Homelessness Initiative Fund (ELHIF) is another program that for Stearn County families that was intended to fill the gap between a person paying a large portion of their total household income towards a housing cost or having no place to live. It is available as a form of a section 8 housing voucher. Location is 1225 W Saint Germain St., St. Cloud, MN, 56301. Continue with the St. Cloud Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud offers a number of services for the low income and needy. Among them the agency will provide a housing subsidy for persons with serious mental illness. Meals on Wheels Program delivers a nutritious meal to the homes of at-risk, vulnerable persons age 60 +, elderly, homebound, and ill. Also provides donated food staples, household items, used clothing, and paper products to families in need. (320) 229-4560

Albany Area Community Senior Center is located at 741 Lake Ave, Albany, Minnesota, 56307. Dial (320) 845-2343. Offers help for seniors, including food, energy bill help, and other support. Or find other places for seni



or support, even including homebound meals on wheels programs.




Stearns County housing and rental assistance may be available to prevent homelessness. The government issues grants to non-profits, which then provide funds to residents that are in a crisis. Charities may also have money for paying security deposits, rent, and other needs. More on rent help in Stearns County.

Stearns County free legal aid programs

St. Cloud Area Legal Services (phone 320-253-0121) provides legal representation or free legal advice to qualified low-income families and individuals in its service area for these types of cases. Foreclosure,  citizenship/immigration, mortgages and predatory lending, Minnesota health care, education law, family law, housing law, as well as government and  public benefits law. Click here for information on free legal services in all of Minnesota.



Free food pantries, groceries, and vouchers

There are several places to contact for free food, groceries, and maybe other essential household products. Or get hot meals, including at Christmas and Thanksgiving, from Stearns County soup kitchens. The options include.

  • Good News Assembly of God Church - 320-255-0620
  • Kimball Food Shelf (St. Ann’s Church) - 320-398-2211
  • Rice Food Shelf - 320-393-2915
  • Place of Hope - 320-203-7881

The above list is just a sampling of the pantries in Stearns County. Several other churches and charity organizations may also serve meals, pass out bags of groceries, or offer free food in a crisis. Find details on free food pantries in St. Cloud and Stearns County.

By Jon McNamara

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