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Tri-County Action Program financial assistance.

Tri-County Action works to provide disadvantaged individuals and families a hand up. They operate in the counties of Benton, Stearns, and Sherburne. Clients will go through case management, and during that timeframe the non-profit may be able to offer short term emergency aid for bills or basic needs. All resources are limited, and many individuals will need to be referred to other non-profits or state of Minnesota benefits.

The transitional housing program helps homeless individuals and families escape the cycle of homelessness and find affordable, low income apartments or housing. This resource provides furnished accommodations, but tenants will need to pay a portion of income towards their rent.

This service also includes up to two years of case management, as well as other support from community action. Placement in the transitional housing program is based upon availability, household size, income and preference, among other factors. Individuals and families from Stearns and Sherburne who have applied to the accommodations are notified when there is an opening that meets their specific needs.

Financial assistance, most of which is one time, is available on a short-term basis to help clients secure a permanent, affordable home. This type of monetary aid from Tri-County Action Program can be used to help tenants avoid eviction, relocate to a more affordable property, or cover the security deposit or down payment expenses. This is generally for a home in which rental costs that are less than 50% of total household income, and six months of case management is mandated for all participating households.

Grants for back rent are available from the Tri-County community action agency as part of Housing Assistance. This is a program that works with families, single parents, or veterans. Applicants need to be facing eviction or are homeless now, and they also need to be residing in a shelter. The agency will coordinate budget counseling, loans for assisting with security deposits, or first month or past due rent. The number is 320-251-1612.

Many people looking to lease an apartment will need to participate in the Renting 101 Class. Sessions are held throughout the year, and tenants will learn about their rights and responsibilities. There will be resources that participants can use to find an affordable home to live in, and financial literacy is addressed as well, such as how to save for a security deposit and repairing credit. This can help lead to long term success and prevent future homelessness in Minnesota.




Through the Rehabilitation Loan Program, which is offered in partnership with Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, qualified low income or senior homeowners can receive inexpensive loans to perform basic and necessary improvements. The funds can be used to repair electrical, plumbing or heating systems. Other uses of the financing from TRICAP can be for insulation and storm windows for energy-saving purposes or to say patch a roof.

While it is limited in scope, and many people will be denied, these deferred loans include a 0% interest rate. So they can help borrowers save a significant amount of money over time, and they will even be forgiven after 15 years or due when clients sell their home.

Working poor individuals and families can turn to the Economic Bridging program to resolve short-term crises that cannot be addressed through other means. This one-time financial assistance program offers grants to help clients overcome barriers to transportation, housing, healthcare and employment.

The uses of the money need to be approved by Tri-County Action Program. However, the non-profit may assist with rent payments and deposits, utility bills, emergency medical and dental expenses and car repairs. These are just some examples of what the grants can be used for, but are in fact among the needs that the Economic Bridging program can help resolve. Families applying for this must provide evidence of their financial status and verify their crisis.

Tri-County Action Agency administers an energy bill assistance program to help households manage home usage and to pay down their utility or heating bills. This program offers financial assistance in Stearns County. Other components include crisis intervention, heating system repair and replacement, and referrals to other government programs.

The non-profit TRICAP agency also operates a weatherization service that helps homeowners reduce energy costs. This is accomplished through different approaches, and weatherization can coordinate audits of the home and subsequent energy-efficiency upgrades.

Free financial literacy classes are available to assist clients with money management. These workshops are held by teachers and professional staff, and they help clients budget, build assets, pay bills and improve credit ratings.





One service in Benton, Stearns, and Sherburne is FAIM, or the Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota. This is a matched savings program in which federal funds are used to help people build their savings. It also offer credit counseling, budgeting advice, and other workshops, and is part of the agencies Financial Fitness Program.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps impoverished residents of counties such as Stearns and Benton afford the cost of food. The non-profit community action agency conducts outreach and provides assistance with applications. So they work with people throughout the process, and residents can determine their eligibility for SNAP Food Stamps at the Bridge to Benefits website.

Homebound persons who are unable to prepare their own meals can turn to the Meals on Wheels program. Local caterers that partner with Tri-County Action Agency provide the work and effort to prepare the meals, and volunteers deliver them. In addition, coordinators meet with all Meals on Wheels participants to discuss nutrition and other services that can help the homebound retain their independence.

Head Start is a comprehensive, government funded preschool program that emphasizes long term child development. This serves children under the age of 5 and their families and promotes self-sufficiency. In addition, Head Start was designed by Tri-County Action Agency to help parents foster their role as the principal influence on their children’s development, and it focuses on health, education, social services, addressing mental health, disabilities and school readiness. Nutritious meals are provided to enrolled children, and transportation may be available.

The Family Caregiver and Senior Advocate Program is for the elderly in Stearns as well as their spouses. Tri-County Action Agency offers information, resources and referrals to non-profits and resources such as Medicare, and this is offered for senior citizens and their caregivers.




Displaced HomeMaker is for residents of the area, including Sherburne and Stearns County, that are facing an unexpected crisis. Case managers will help single moms or maybe people impacted by a death or medical issue. The resource focuses on helping them regain stability. There may be assistance in finding a job, gaining new skills, or applying for government benefits. Whatever is needed will be arranged by TRI-CAP.

There are many parts of this. This program addresses fall prevention, Medicare laws, healthcare directives, prescription drug management, living wills, emergency preparedness and food programs. In rare cases, financial for living expenses and nutritional assistance may also be provided.

For more details on assistance from Tri-County Action, call (320) 251-1612. Or the main office is at 1210 23rd Ave S., Waite Park, Minnesota 56387.


By Jon McNamara











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