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Assistance from Washington community action agencies.

Washington residents who are trying to find a job or that need help to pay the bills may receive help from a community action agency. The non-profits, which are listed below by county near you, offer services that can help people gain new skills, find employment, or pay for basic needs in an emergency. Case managers from the agencies work with low income families, the working poor and seniors. Agencies may be able to offer their own direct aid to those who need help, or they will provide referrals.

The primary centers in Washington, and the programs they offer, are below. However funding is always limited and not all community action agencies will offer all of these resources. It is recommend to call in advance for details and/or an appointment.

Grant programs for emergency expenses

Most centers accept applications for the federal government Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is the primary grant program for paying heating and utility bills, and it runs from January to June of each year. Low income households, with a focus on those with a member at risk, can get help for their energy bills. If available, some assistance can even be provided to pay for furnace or heating system repairs. The Washington LIHEAP program provides a one-time benefit, and the amount offered is determined by your income, household size and fuel type. Funding is provided by the Department of Health and Human Services and the State of Washington.

Another resource that many Washington residents sign up for is the Helping Hands Assistance Program. This is offered by non-profits, and it provides financial assistance with paying electric and natural gas bills. It relies heaving on donations from the community, and any assistance paid out is dependent on the total amount of donated dollars.

Rental/Eviction prevention assistance is provided to eligible households, and the goal is to prevent homelessness. Aid is only offered for people who meet eligibility requirements. Less common is assistance for paying security deposits or first month’s rent; however this is usually limited to people who are faced with homeless situations or where the family has been in a specific targeted.




Eviction prevention funds will be primarily for households who have secure housing but are faced with an eviction due to non-payment of their rent. Applicants must meet with a Family Development Specialist from their local agency before applying to determine eligibility. All other possible solutions need to have been reviewed first. The solutions from a community action agency in Washington range from counseling to financial help. Or other resources can be used to stop an eviction.

For the currently homeless or people who have been evicted, your community action agency may have motel vouchers which can be used to pay for temporary assistance or shelter, and it is usually only a few days worth. These are generally available in Washington for families or individuals who have no shelter and don’t have money to pay for housing. Assistance may be provided only if other area resources have been exhausted.

Another similar service is the Section 8 Voucher/ROP program. This state of Washington program makes safe rental housing more affordable to families, including the elderly and disabled with limited incomes. People who are signed up in this program generally pay at most 30% of their income for their rent and utilities.

Shelter often leads to someone signing up for transitional housing programs. This is offered for homeless people, and the centers specialize in serving households with serious enough barriers that are preventing them from obtaining stabilization on their own.

Many agencies are also service providers for the THOR program, which is known as Washington State Department of Commerce’s Transition Housing Operating and Rent. It can offer homeless families with children with up to two years of case management, rental assistance, and subsidies. Most of the housing programs provide some form of rent subsidy that is based on the applicant’s household income. Beneficiaries will also get help in transitioning to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. Grants and vouchers are available on a limited basis, and there may be a waiting list for these resources.





The Washington Home Repair and Rehabilitation Program (HRRP), which is created by the Department of Commerce, can help low income families. Some of what can be provided includes manufactured or mobile home (MH) replacement, home emergency and minor repair and rehabilitation and also storm damage repair.

Weatherization is paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy. It has been operating in Washington for many years, and has helped thousands of low income families save money on their utility and energy bills. The program, in which community action agencies process applications, can help reduce the heating and cooling costs for low-income families. It works by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. For example, weatherization in Washington can pay for air sealing to reduce infiltration, Insulation, and even energy related repairs.

Emergency Food Assistance Program offers help to those low income, unemployed, and poor families who need access to healthy food. Pantries and charities may be occasionally accessed for those people who need emergency food supplies. Other aid provided can include nutritional counseling, information on food purchases and preparation and also household budget assistance is available. Many locations are also involved in commodity distribution.

Limited transportation assistance may be offered. While this is not as common, it depends of availability of funding. Assistance may include gasoline vouchers, bus passes/tokens, or grants to pay for minor car repairs. Any type of help is only usually available to people who have a documented job interview or emergency medical appointment. Usually an agency will only provide the exact amount of gas you need for your appointment or interview. Find more information on how to get a free bus pass.

The Senior Nutrition Program offers older Washington state residents with both Congregate and Home-Delivered Services. It is targeted at older individuals who might not eat adequately. Community action agencies work with agency on aging centers and charities to serve hot or other appropriate meals that contain at least one-third of the current Recommended Dietary Allowances. This also offers nutrition assessment, therapy, education, and counseling. Other supportive services may include transportation, shopping assistance, health screening, physical activity programs, health promotion, and other services may be available.

Congregate meals are offered in a variety of community settings, such as churches, senior centers, schools, and adult day care facilities. In these settings, participants are given the opportunity to form new friendships and to interact in a social environment.

Home-Delivered Nutrition Services (HDNS) provide nutritious meals to individual residences, the homebound and older seniors. It is for people who are normally unable to leave their homes without assistance. Services are intended to maintain or improve the nutritional status of these individuals and support their independence.

Housing Rehabilitation is designed to provide safety and health related repairs that improve safety and comfort of a home. While you local community action agency may process applications, the program is funded through grants and low-interest loans. It brings mechanical and structural systems up to acceptable standards. Repairs include handicap modifications, Electrical, Roofing, Septic systems, and Plumbing.





Financial counseling and advice in Washington

Low to moderate income individuals, and seniors, can get free income tax preparation from VITA or resources offered by AARP. Get guidance to make sure you receive all the deductions and credits allowed, including the Earned Income Tax Credit. IRS trained tax-aide volunteers will assist with filing the 1040 Form and the more standard of the schedules. In addition, electronic filing (e-filing) is offered at most tax preparation sites, and this is done with no charge to the taxpayer.

Financial education is available as well. A workshop in Washington called Money Smart is offered at some sites, including many YMCAs. Many agencies also partner with not for profit credit and housing counselors to provide services to consumers, including credit repair, information on budgeting, and similar services.

Sign up for financial literacy education and personal financial management skills. Sessions can create measurable behavioral changes in the client, and help them understand how to use money to improve financial security and economic independence. Staff from the agency will provide steps to strengthen credit through case management, address negative behaviors and administer ongoing educational workshops. Another focus is on helping families in Washington save money on living expenses and bills. The financial counseling programs targets unemployed, homeless, those facing foreclosure or eviction, and low-income Latinos.

The programs go beyond meeting basic needs. Workshops try to create pathways of opportunity for people across Washington. The financial education programs try to addresses the financial struggles of those living in poverty. Get the tools you need to stabilize your situation. Credit counselors can educate clients on helping them to reduce debt and managing their personal finances. Having strong finances and less debt is a critical step in the process of helping families become more self-sufficient.

Another service is the Individual Development Account (IDA), which is an asset-building, matching funds program available in most communities in Washington. This program is aimed at improving the economic well being of the household, and will help them save money for the purchase of a home or pay for education or job training.

Homeownership counseling is offered for potential first time home buyers as well as people who now own a home. Non-profits prepare prospective home buyers with one on one coaching for successful long term homeownership as well as education workshops. The workshops cover recognizing predatory lending, down-payment assistance, information on mortgages loan products, and credit building or rebuilding. The counseling programs also include Pre-Purchase counseling and free Foreclosure Avoidance prevention services.

Mortgage default counseling can also remedy default and avoid foreclosure. HUD certified housing counselors assist households by arranging repayment plans with their bank and by also providing information and referral to other government assistance and private resources.







Pre-Purchase Counseling will households identify and overcome barriers to homeownership, and counselors an even provide information about a variety of special Washington loan programs. For example, some agencies may have access to a down payment assistance loan program. When funds are available, low interest loans in amounts up to $15,000 can be made to assist eligible households with home purchases.

Community action case management and stabilization programs

Family Development Services family is a core service of any community action agency. You will partner with a case manger to work towards self-sufficiency. This is a broad concept, and will include paying bills in the short term as well as information on increasing income and making money. However the focus is always on long term stability.

Work on goal planning, which is setting both short and long term goals that are family driven. Receive an assessment of family’s strengths, vision and barriers. Clients will also receive ongoing emotional support and guidance. Also get help in establishing a link to information and service with wider community resources. The process ultimately reinforces family values. You will also be referred to support networks within the state of Washington and your local community to achieve self-sufficiency. Another focus is on helping families make money to pay bills, which is critical.

Legal Assistance is often coordinated using Pro Bono Lawyer Referral Programs. Low income individuals and seniors can get questions answered on civil matters. Any type of pro bono services available are for individuals who need help with non-criminal legal matters, which can include things like domestic violence or housing discrimination. There are a number of other topics that can be covered by the federal government funded free legal aid programs.

Programs for Washington children from low income families

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) offered by USDA’s plays a vital role in improving the affordability and quality of day care for low-income families. Every day thousands of children receive free nutritious snacks and meals through CACFP and the centers they support. The program also provides meals and snacks to tens of thousands of adults who receive help in nonresidential adult day care centers. Food is also offered to people in shelter as well as after school programs.

Head Start, Early Head Start, ECEAP is a free preschool program for children from low income-eligible families and for children in Washington with special needs. These government funded programs provide a wide array of services for children and families, including health care, free meals, as well as safe and affordable child care at many locations. Of course education and developmental screenings for children are administered.
Another option is Seasonal Childcare Program (SCC) can help families that are working in agricultural related work by providing childcare services.

WIC, or Women, Infants, and Children, is another option for young children and their mothers. It is a nutrition education and supplemental food program serving eligible pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women. Infants and children can receive formula and free food. WIC provides other support as well, such as ongoing nutrition education through workshops, one-on-one counseling, and educational boards.

Job training and education services

The Literacy program in Washington is designed for English-speaking adults whose ability to write, read and even solve basic math is limited. Students of the program will meet individually with trained tutors. Individuals can sign up for GED pre and post testing services, and these are offered with the objectives to help students gain the knowledge and obtain a GED Certificate as well as help them further develop their skills.

This education program offers skills of writing, reading, speaking in English, computing, and problem solving. Using volunteer tutors that are available from various agencies in your community, individuals are offered assistance to improve their basic skills. This includes one-on-one tutoring in reading, English comprehension, writing skills, and when done, ongoing job search assistance.

Many agencies have WorkSource Affiliate sites, which are part of the federal government Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and also the state of Washington. This is one of the main government programs that offers adult education, vocational rehabilitation and literacy programs. WIA can improve the quality of the workforce, enhance the productivity and competitiveness and can help with reducing reduce welfare dependency.





Meet with a case manager to receive an initial assessment or job search and placement assistance. This will then lead into more intensive services, which is the development of a longer term employment plan. The goal after all of this is to land a job somewhere in your town or county.

As indicated, a major focus is on offering Employment Assistance. Most centers offer employment and life skills training to improve job placement and readiness. Get help with employability, and find how to get increased wages.

A case manager from the community action agency will work with clients and help them remove barriers through workshops, education, individual counseling and referrals. The program can even connect participants with employers across Washington. Many of the programs focus on helping low-income, unemployed and Latino people in finding and maintaining a livable wage by teaching employment skills. Also get some educational support, such as vocabulary/language development, learn about safety regulations and get other information to better current employment and end the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Classes include computer lab job search, resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, workplace communication, and cultural awareness. Continue with job training programs in Washington.

ESL Classes and Bilingual Legal Clinics can addresses the language barriers that may be in place and that are preventing people from obtaining employment and/or citizenship. Sign up for English classes for beginner and intermediate students to improve proficiency. Services include evaluation and assessment of participant skills, referrals for legal assistance, bilingual instruction, and other services as need. Also receive free consultation on various legal matters.

Address of non-profit community action agencies

Benton Franklin County Community Action Committee
720 West Court Street
Pasco, Washington 99301-4178
Telephone number is (509) 545-4042.
Some of what is offered includes shelters, eviction prevention, utility bill help from Helping Hands Program, and referrals to loan programs and other financial aid. Continue.

Blue Mountain Action Council
Address is 342 Catherine Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362-3057
(509) 529-4980
Covers counties of Columbia, Walla Walla, and Garfield.
Children, the elderly, and working poor get get help overcoming challenges, receive referrals to resources such as weatherization and receive support for exiting poverty. Read more.

Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP)
722 18th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122-0437
(206) 812-4940
Only runs programs and counseling for the City of Seattle and low income families in that immediate region.

Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council
Main address is 620 Lewis Street
Wenatchee, Washington 98801
Call (509) 662-6156 for intake

Clark County Department of Community Services
1601 E. 4th Plain Blvd., Bg 17, Suite C214
Vancouver, WA 98668-5000
Call (360) 397-2130
Emergency services can be provided by referral. Or apply for government aid such as Head Start or LIHEAP. A number of employment and job training programs may also be offered by the non-profit. Click here.

Coastal Community Action Program
Main address is 117 E. 3rd Street
Aberdeen, WA 98520
Telephone - (360) 533-5100
Counties are Grays Harbor and Pacific. There is a focus on hunger and homeless prevention, workfirst job training, and other assistance. Continue with Coastal Community Action Agency.





Community Action Center Whitman County
350 SE Fairmont Road
Pullman, WA 99163
Dial (509) 334-9147, or learn more.

Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason & Thurston Counties
420 Golf Club Road. SE, Suite 100
Lacey, WA 98503
Telephone: (360) 438-1100
If you need help finding a job, gaining new skills, or short term aid, then call this agency. Programs are directly offered, or they can refer families to local resources. Some services from this Washington agency include Emergency Food Assistance Program, cash grants for rent from Housing and Essential Needs (HEN), and many others. More on financial help from Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston.

El Centro De La Raza
2524 16th Ave. South
Seattle, Washington 98114
(206) 957-4613
Another non-profit that focuses on the city of Seattle. Immigrants, the working poor, and unemployed turn to this regional community action agency. Read more.

10675 Willows Rd., NE, Ste. 275
Redmond, WA 98073-3577
Telephone number - (425) 869-6000
Helps low income families, senior, and immigrants in North and East King County Washington.

Hope Source
700 E. Mountain View Avenue, Suite 501
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Main number - (509) 925-1448
Provides coverage to Kittitas County.

Kitsap Community Resources
Main location is 845 8th Street
Bremerton, WA 98337
(360) 473-2004

Lower Columbia Community Action Council
Office address - 1526 Commerce Avenue
Longview, WA 98632
Telephone: (360) 425-3430
Supports Cowlitz and Wahkiakum County.

Metropolitan Development Council Pierce County
721 South Fawcett, Room 201
Tacoma, WA 98402
Telephone: (253) 383-3921
City of Tacoma and Pierce County residents can call this non-profit. Services include information on SNAP food stamps, emergency rental assistance, medical care, and short term financing (such as loans) for security deposits and paying other expenses. Read Pierce County Metropolitan Development Council.

Multi-Service Center
1200 S 336th Street
Federal Way, Washington 98003-6347
Phone - (253) 838-7678
Provides assistance for South King County. Some of the services include LIHEAP applications and other public aid such as WIC. Job training and budgeting classes and workshops may be provided as well.

Neighborhood House, Inc.
Address - 905 Spruce Street, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98104
Telephone: (206) 461-8430
Covers the City of Seattle and South King County as well.

Northwest Community Action Center of South Yakima
706 Rentschler Lane
Toppenish, WA 98948
Call (509) 865-7630 for information.

OIC of Washington
815 Fruitvale Boulevard
Yakima, Washington 98902-1922
Telephone number is (509) 248-6751

Okanogan County Community Action Council
Address - 424 South 2nd Avenue
Okanogan, WA 98840
Telephone number is (509) 422-4041

Olympic Community Action Programs
Location - 803 West Park Avenue
Port Townsend, WA 98368
Primary telephone number - (360) 385-2571
Clallam and Jefferson County is supported.

Opportunity Council
Main address is 1111 Cornwall Avenue, Suite C
Bellingham, WA 98225-5039
(360) 734-5121
Island, San Juan and Whatcom County. The non-profit runs a hunger prevention service known as Basic Food Outreach, SSVF - Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and other programs. More details.

Pierce County Community Connections Community Action Program
Address is 3602 Pacific Avenue, Suite 200
Tacoma, WA 98418
(253) 798-6266
Some of what may be offered includes food, emergency assistance, and information on government programs such as WIC. Some limited assistance for employment and education services may be administered. Almost 60 different services are available, and find more on community action programs in Pierce County.

Rural Resources Community Action
956 South Main Street, Suite A
Colville, Washington 99114-2310
Telephone: (509) 684-8421
Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Ferry County supported.





Seattle Conservation Corps
Location is 7727 63rd Avenue, NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 684-0190
Another non-profit community action agency that supports residents in Seattle Washington.

Skagit County Community Action Agency
Main address is 330 Pacific Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
(360) 416-7585

Snohomish County Human Services CAP
Address is 3000 Rockafeller Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
Call (425) 388-7244
Grants for emergency needs and bills may be available from programs such as LIHEAP energy assistance. Other resources may include minor home repairs or meals for senior citizens. Read more Snohomish community action.

Solid Ground
Location is 1501 N. 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103-6708
Call the center at (206) 694-6805
A focus is on helping the homeless, seniors, and people facing eviction in King County. Get information on financial aid for paying a rental or utility deposit on a new home, eviction prevention services and self-sufficiency. Social workers can also help clients apply for public assistance and offer referrals. Continue.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs
3102 West Fort Wright Drive
Spokane, WA 99224
Main number is (509) 456-7111
Call for information on, and intake for programs such as Weatherization and WIC. Case managers can advise families and individuals and give them support as they work to escape poverty.

Washington Gorge Action Program Council
Address: 1250 East Steuben
Bingen, Washington 98605
Telephone number - (509) 493-2662
Supports Klickitat and Skamania County. Various services are offered for low income families, including information on food, government benefits, and housing. More Washington Gorge community action.

By Jon McNamara

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