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Whatcom County assistance programs.

Find charities, churches, and government financial assistance programs in Bellingham and the County. Struggling households can get government grants or charitable funds to help pay security deposits, rent, or mortgages (as funding allows). There are also free items given from charities ranging from food to clothes, Christmas toys, school supplies and other goods.

Many different charities, non-profits, and other local organization are available in Whatcom County. These groups offer a wide variety of emergency programs for paying rent or energy bills to stop evictions or they coordinate government homeless prevention programs. They may offer free medical and health care as well as other forms of assistance. Many of them receive funding from the United Way, which is based in Bellingham. Find information on all of your options below.

General help, limited financial assistance and counseling

Catholic Community Services NW can coordinates access to mental health and social service for children as well as families. These services are available to people with limited or no means or income. The programs can help people deal with a short term crisis, reduce dysfunction’s and enhance strengths and coping skills of patients. The churches are also involved in referring clients to housing or shelter programs and also operate a resale shop. (360) 676-2164. Read more Bellingham Catholic Charities.

Another non-profit is Opportunity Council. They have created programs and offer services that are key to increased self-sufficiency and creating positive change for the unemployed, low and fixed income people. Services offered by the agency include housing, rent assistance, food, shelter, prescriptions, childcare, Head Start, information and referral to other federal government and Washington programs.

The non-profit may also be able to help Whatcom County and Bellingham families apply for government grants for housing or rent needs. They also offer Early Support for Infants, school supplies, and more. A key focus of Opportunity Council is of ending poverty in the region. Call (360) 734-5121, or click here for assistance programs from Opportunity Council.




The Whatcom Salvation Army provides assistance to individuals and families in emergency situations and who are facing a short term crisis. Receive access to free food, clothing, cash grants for paying bills, and household items. There may also be support such as furniture, occasional limited rental, mortgage, heating or utility bill assistance.

Seasonal programs in Bellingham include Christmas food and gifts; recreation: adult social/spiritual activities; disaster assistance; senior services and a youth camp program. Each year students from K to college age in Whatcom County can seek free back to school supplies as well. Phone number (360) 733-1410, or more on Whatcom County Salvation Army.

Volunteers of America (VOA) - The national charity provides help in Whatcom and Bellingham. While a focus is on housing, including homeless prevention, they also help with self-sufficiency, employment, and nutritional needs. Some of what may be available includes emergency financial aid for paying rent or utility bills and food. Learn about government grants for housing costs, gain access to permanent housing solutions, and assistance for seniors in the Whatcom area. There is also information on shelters, job training, and other programs for low income families. Click information on Volunteers of America Western Washington.

Whatcom County free holiday programs - Organizations ranging from DSHS to the Salvation Army and churches offer free toys, gifts, and meals. A priority is on children as well as senior citizens that do not have other family in the area. Some agencies only offer referrals to Christmas assistance. Read more on free holiday help in Snohomish region.





Bellingham and Whatcom County Love provides advice and referrals. The goal of the charity is to help people in poverty address the cause of it, such as excessive debt or lack of employment. They may have referrals to transitional housing, government grants and more. Address is 1998 Midway Lane, Bellingham, WA 98226, or call 360.671.6201.

Saint Vincent de Paul Sacred Heart Church (call 360-734-2722). They offer emergency financial assistance, as funding allows. There may be free gasoline vouchers or motel room vouchers. Or get bus fare, a few dollars to pay bills, information on loan programs and more from 1110 14th St, Bellingham, Washington 98225.

DSHS Community Services Office offers public assistance and government aid. A wide range of programs for the low income, disabled, elderly and unemployed (among others). They include the following.

  • SNAP food stamps as well as EBT cards for buying groceries.
  • Information on SSI disability grants, housing resources, food programs, homecare and more.
  • Washington cash assistance program (TANF) for short term relief as well as LIHEAP grants or free weatherization.
  • Free or or cost government health insurance is offered in Whatcom County from Medicaid, Medicare, and other benefits.

Many other public assistance programs are offered. Most have income and asset requirements. The address is  4101 Meridian St, Bellingham, WA 98226. Call (877) 501-2233, or find more on public and government aid in Washington.

Sacred Heart Church can provide emergency food or one time financial aid for security deposits, rent, or energy bills. There may also be clothing or gas vouchers for work reasons. Dial (360) 734-2850.

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church may, on occasion, have small amount of money for emergency expenses. There may be funds for rent or paying bills, local transportation, and other costs. Small boxes of food may also be offered in Whatcom County. Applicants need to walk in on Tuesday from 9-10 am to apply. Address is 2117 Walnut Street, Bellingham, WA, 98225.

Food assistance programs

Low income, unemployed, and other qualified individuals can get free groceries and other food aid. The Bellingham Food Bank distributes food directly to families and other distribution centers throughout Whatcom County Washington. (360) 676-0392

There are several other food pantries as well as soup kitchens in the region. They will have everything from groceries to free Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas meals or gifts. Some even have clothing. More on free food pantries in Whatcom County.

Receive help with and access to child and day care

The Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center (phone number (360) 676-0950) partners with other non-profits to provide the highest standard and most affordable childcare. The day care programs are in place for low-to-moderate income families, and BCLC will assist them with becoming self-sufficient.

Free health care centers

Interfaith Community Health Center is a free medical clinic that provides free, high quality primary health and medical care. There is also dental care, behavioral health and prescription medication to the citizens of Whatcom County. Medical help is available for all patients, regardless of their ability to pay for the health care services. (360) 676-6177.





Children and mother can get access to health care from Mother Baby Center. The agency can be reached at (360) 647-1544. The center provides health care, general medical services and support services for pregnant and postpartum women. The results of the program and the clinic are fewer deaths and healthier babies in the community.

There are other free medical and health care programs in the state (and nationwide as well). There are free clinics, health insurance plans, advocates and other resources. Also find non-profits that help with medical bills.


By Jon McNamara

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