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Assistance programs from community action agencies in Wisconsin.

Resources offered by community action agencies can help low income families in Wisconsin make it through a crisis and also regain self-sufficiency. A focus is on helping people overcome barriers. Case managers can assist with finding a job, offer employment services, and financial literacy classes. Clients can also get referrals to grants and financial assistance for paying bills, such as rent, heating costs, and food expenses.

Each community action center in Wisconsin listed below will offer their own types of assistance programs to individuals. Funding is usually limited, and only qualified families in Wisconsin will be able to receive help. Get more information on some of the services that may be available.

Wisconsin housing assistance and counseling

First time homebuyer programs can provide opportunities and advice to qualified families in Wisconsin. This can include grants or low interest loans for down payments, closing costs, education, and counseling services. The program is supported by real estate professionals, local banks, and lenders.

Home repairs can also be coordinated by a community action agency, and these generally fall under the name of housing rehabilitation. Resources are offered to eligible home owners (with a focus on seniors and disabled), and agencies and contractors can provide assistance in dealing with safety issues and repair needs. Assistance is not intended for remodeling or emergency situations. Almost all repairs will be based on health, accessibility and safety issues.

Usually funds that are offered as part of housing rehabilitation are provided to seniors and low-income homeowners as a deferred loan. This will only need to be repaid upon sale of the home, 30 years from the date of the loan origination, or if the home is no longer their primary residence. So in some ways this is almost equivalent to a grant.

Repairs eligible can include foundation repair, roof work, siding, door and window repair or replacement, handicap accessibility, wells, septic systems, or lead hazard reduction. Volunteers may also help with plumbing, electrical, heating system and water heater replacement, or find other home repair assistance programs for low income families.




The Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers provide rental subsidies and assistance to very low income households and those that are experiencing poverty. There is usually a waiting list for qualified applicants. The government program will provide clients with a voucher that will in effect pay a portion of their monthly rent. There are also income subsidized section 8 apartments in Wisconsin.

Emergency Shelters are located across Wisconsin, and they provide homeless individuals and people who were evicted with vouchers for temporary/emergency shelter. Some of the vouchers may pay for motels or hotels. You will also be able to work with a case manager in an effort to locate permanent housing and other government or local resources.

Eviction Prevention can include financial assistance to households that have experienced a sudden, unexpected and temporary loss of income. Many centers will also offer landlord/tenant mediation. Resources are usually restricted to people that have received a 5-day notice from their landlord. More on Wisconsin eviction prevention assistance programs.

Case management and self-sufficiency

Services are offered for the homeless or people on the verge of eviction. This can include working with a case manager to create a self sufficiency plan. So they will evaluate your skills and connect people to employment resources and job programs. You will also identify steps needed to become self-sufficient and independent.

As part of this service, they can help in locating housing in Wisconsin that is affordable and can meet your needs and financial situation. They may help clients locate and connect with other regional, non-profit or government resources.

Wisconsin Community Action agencies stress employment and income too. Clients who work full time, or need a side gig type job, have options available too. The money can help them make ends meet. Even find a variety of online gig economy jobs.





Youth can receive crisis intervention and temporary shelter along with referrals to appropriate non-profit agencies. Many resources are offered for runaway youth in Wisconsin. This can include short-term shelter with their parents. Other aid can include family problem-solving, referrals and follow-up.

Assistance in filing income taxes is offered from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. It offers low-income households free preparation in preparing and filing their federal and state income taxes. Specialists will help you apply for any eligible tax credits, such as earned income tax, homestead, or child tax credits.

The Financial Services Program will focus on helping clients acquire and improve the skills they need to increase their financial stability. Non-profit credit counselors provide assistance for individuals experiencing a short-term financial crisis. Most adults who are helped will receive free budget counseling too and giving tips on how to save money. People who may be interested in improving their money-management skills and overall financial literacy from contact their nearby community action agency. Find more suggesstiond on saving money on bills.

Grant programs and referrals from community action agencies

Work N Wheels Program can help people acquire a car. This resource may be able to provide community action agency clients with low interest vehicle loans. The money issued needs to be used to purchase reliable, affordable transportation. The car needs to be used for work reasons, so it gives people the ability to solve their transportation needs, access greater employment opportunities, increase self sufficiency, build a better credit rating, or even retain employment.

Senior meal sites are located across Wisconsin. Many non-profits, such as Agency on Aging centers, the Salvation Army, and community action agencies participate in this. Any resident, or someone married to a person, who is 60 years of age or older may be served a free, hot and healthy meal. Most locations will also help disabled dependents of eligible seniors, and they too are able to participate in the nutrition program and grab a meal at a center.

For those confined to their homes, who can’t make it to a site referenced above, and who are unable to prepare a meal on their own can look into Home Delivered, or Meals on Wheels. A volunteer from an agency, or a group like the Salvation Army, will bring you a noon-time meal and deliver it right to you.

Energy conservation/weatherization programs operate in most towns. Community action agencies process applications for this free service. The exact type and amount of work done to each home will vary, depending on home construction, age and overall condition. A highly trained and supervised energy auditor will visit your home to determine the energy improvements needed in order to make the home more energy efficient. Most of the more common improvements in Wisconsin include replacing or repairing & tuning up furnaces, Sealing Bypasses, Insulating walls & attics or compact Florescent Light Bulbs, and general weatherstripping.





Each home will usually experience significant energy savings, and this can amount to hundreds of dollars per year. Some of the improvements made can include installing attic, wall, crawl space, water heater and hot water pipe insulation; installing low-flow shower heads, and sealing air leaks into the home. While not as common in Wisconsin, based upon the contractor’s projected energy savings, you may even be able to receive a new furnace, refrigerator or freezer.

Some community action agencies have information on, or can coordinate, free health and dental care for Wisconsin families. An example of an offering is the Ministry Dental Center. This was created between a partnership of Saint Michael’s Hospital and Delta Dental of Wisconsin. The goal for the Center is to offer a place where qualified patients can seek both preventive care and treatment to maintain and improve their oral health. Many programs, including Ministry Dental, can also help people who receive insurance from BadgerCare or Medicaid. Therefore a community action agency often has information on all medical needs, including resources that can offer programs on how to find help paying dental bills.

Seniors, disabled and low-income households may receive help in paying their utility bills. Community action agencies operate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It distributes a one-time grant directly to energy companies toward the utility bills of qualified residents. The LIHEAP program also offers Wisconsin residents assistance in dealing with other emergencies, which can include people facing a shut off or disconnection of their power.

Energy bill assistance can provide qualified low-income residents with financial benefits, including emergency furnace repair and replacement, money for fuel costs, and grants to pay for the restoration of utility services. It can help with paying your annual home energy costs. The emergency or crisis assistance includes government funds to pay for retention of utility services, reconnections, and coordination of heating oil deliveries. Or stop by an agency for referrals for other heating related services. One additional service that is part of this is LIHEAP crisis grants.

Federal aid is offered from the TEFAP Emergency Food Assistance Program. It can distribute food assistance to low-income households through the distribution of surplus government commodities. It is administered at the government level from the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). TEFAP is a supplemental resource that works in combination with other assistance programs and pantries in efforts to maximize and target limited food and funding resources. In Wisconsin, many pantries, soup kitchens and shelters participate.

Coats for Kids is offered in some communities. It will help families, in particular children, receive a free winter coat to help them deal with the cold Wisconsin winter. Unfortunately many people struggle to buy warm winter coats and attire because of financial hardship. So many agencies, charities, and non-profits both collect and distribute coats, mittens, hats and other winter clothing items for distribution to adults, children and students experiencing poverty.

Community action agencies arrange medical and health care in partnership with free community clinics. Some offer advocates to help low to moderate income families find quality, affordable health insurance. Or free or discounted prescription medications. Learn more on low cost health insurance policies.

Employment opportunities and job training services in Wisconsin

Job Development is offered. It is usually limited to persons whose income is less than certain guidelines.  Preference is given to dislocated workers, single parents enrolled in the W-2 program, Wisconsin residents with disabilities, and those workers who have recently lost their jobs do to reasons not caused by them. Job centers are located across the state and counselors are on site to provide guidance, support, and other assistance to the unemployed and people looking for a new career. Read Wisconsin job training.

If you need a job and have some existing skills, also look into self-employment. The Business Development Program can assist individuals with low incomes gain an income, self sufficiency, and more through self employment. A Loan Fund has been created that can help pay for start-up costs. Funds can even go to existing eligible businesses that are looking to grow. This is usually offered in partnership with the US Small Business Administration for the Micro Loan Program and by the United States Department of Agriculture).

GED & HSED Instruction will provide assistance to adults or those lacking a degree. It will support and guide them in completing their basic educational goals. Any Instruction and guidance is offered at the student's own pace and can be completed relatively quickly. Students will be able to receive free educational materials, one-on-one tutoring with a certified teacher, assistance with testing and orientation fees, basic reading, writing and math skills, and other aid. After someone has a GED and has furthered their education, the intent is for the individual to be able to find solid employment in the region.







The Wisconsin Skills Enhancement Program is a local workforce development program. Assistance is available for low-income individuals, people that are working but want a new job, and others. Case managers and counselors can help people obtain the skills needed to compete for living wage jobs. The program assists with providing and paying for tuition, books, child care costs, and job transportation. While qualifications change, in general in order to be eligible, participants must be working at least 20 hours a week while enrolled. They also need to pursue self-sufficiency and be committed to taking part in any job training offered.

Community action agencies may offer a resource known as Skills Enhancement. It will assist low-wage workers in obtaining a certification or degree at a community or technical college. Many agencies participate, and they provide resources that include financial support to cover the costs of classes and/or training, along with help in paying for transportation and child care. Clients can receive  job search and placement support, individualized career planning assistance, and also access to a variety of case management and advocacy services.

Transitional Jobs Program provides employment services, and ideally permanent jobs, to residents of Wisconsin. The objectives are to provide subsidized transitional jobs that yield immediate income for the family, meet market demands and that can help transition participants into unsubsidized employment. The goal is to help people find a stable source of income to support their families, and to improve their work experience as well as a participant’s labor market skills.

Head Start and programs for children

The federal government and state of Wisconsin Head Start program is a family focused child development program. It provides a wide variety of assistance to families. Of course the goal is to offer learning experiences to children from low income families, and services are offered for children with disabilities as well.

The main goal is to prepare one to five-year-old children and help them be successful in elementary school and in all of life's experiences. It uses the Creative Curriculum to provide developmentally and age appropriate activities designed to promote healthy lifestyles and learning. Head Start serves low income families and their children across the state.

Some of what can be offered includes language and literacy classes. It will help your child gain social competence. Head Start also addresses health and nutrition needs, from free meals and medical checkups. Other programs offered may be creative arts, physical fitness, and music. In general, it offers opportunities for children to solve problems, socialize with others, and it will allow them to participate in a variety of activities that help them become self-confident and capable learners.

  • Health care is included, as this is so important for each child's development. Most schools and non-profit agencies offer a comprehensive health care program that includes emphasis on safety and preventive services, well child care, and assistance with follow up. A screening and check up program is also in place to detect problems with hearing or vision.
  • Mental Health Services are coordinated as part of a supportive and nurturing environment that is designed to help each child be successful and promote good self esteem. Parents have the opportunity to learn more about child growth, parenting and overall development. Families and parents are also welcome to meet individually with their Wisconsin based Head Start mental health counselor to discuss any concerns or additional needs.

It is really a family centered program that benefits parents, children, and the entire family unit. Head Start will focus on enhancing and fostering the parent's role as the primary influence in their child's overall development. The parent is really the primary nurturer, advocate, and educator for the child.

Case managers from your local community agency and teachers from a school work in close partnership with parents. They will assist in developing and using individual strengths to accomplish family, financial, and personal goals. Parents are also strongly encouraged to become involved in all aspects of Head Start, which include special activities for both families and parents, volunteering, and they are even provided the opportunity to participate in policy and program decisions set by Wisconsin that govern its operation.

Food and nutrition are offered. Most community action centers and school participate in the federal government Child and Adult Care Food Program. This provides healthy snacks, meals and food to children and seniors. Usually a nutritionist implements the Child & Adult Care Food Program in Wisconsin, often partnering with Head Start agencies. They will provide nutrition assessment; coordinate nutrition and cooking activities in the classroom, and offer counseling and information to families and staff.





Addresses of phone numbers of Wisconsin agencies

Mailing address - P.O. Box 1108
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 54936-1108
Call (920) 922-7760
The community action agency supports the low income and unemployed in Fond Du Lac, Green Lake, and Winnebago County. The non-profit operates low income housing in Wisconsin. They also offer emergency grants for paying rent, home repairs, weatherization, Loans for Business Development and more. Continue with ADVOCAP community action assistance programs.

CAP Services, Inc.
Address - 5499 Highway 10 E., Suite A
Stevens Point, WI 54481
(715) 343-7500
Counties covered are Waushara, Portage, Waupaca, Marquette, and Outagamie. Get information on assistance from CAP Services community action.

Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, Inc.
Mailing address - P.O. Box 430
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Dial (608) 254-8353
If you need help with bills, food, or financial counseling and live in Dodge, Columbia, Sauk, Juneau or Adams Wisconsin, call this non-profit. Food assistance, low income housing, job placement, and other financial aid is available. Click more Central Wisconsin community action.

Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc.
Main address - 1717 North Stoughton Road (Hwy 51)
Madison, Wisconsin 53704
Dane, Waukesha, and Jefferson County.

Community Action Inc. of Rock & Walworth Counties
20 Eclipse Center
Beloit, WI 53511
Telephone number - (608) 313-1319
This agency can help low income families explore different benefits available in Wisconsin, access transitional housing, and provide other tenant or homeowner counseling.

Couleecap, Inc.
201 Melby Street
Westby, WI 54667
Telephone: (608) 634-3104
Supports Monroe, La Crosse, Vernon, and Crawford County.

Indianhead Community Action Agency
Main address is 1000 College Avenue
Ladysmith, WI 54848
Call (715) 532-4222 for intake
Several regions are supported, including counties of Sawyer, Burnett, Clark, Rusk, Taylor, and Washburn. The agency processes applications for Wisconsin benefits, such as weatherization, can help veterans apply for rent help, and provides other services. Learn more on getting help from Indianhead Community Action.





Lakeshore CAP, Inc.
P.O. Box 2315
Manitowoc, WI 54221-2315
Dial (920) 682-3737
Some of the services offered include heating bill assistance from LIHEAP. Other resources include free food, homeless prevention/housing counseling and more. Assistance is offered in Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Door, and Kewaunee County. Continue with help from Lakeshore CAP.

Location - 1201 Main Street
Oconto, Wisconsin 54153
(920) 834-4621
Several counties are supported, including Forest, Florence, Brown, Langlade, Marinette, Oneida, Menominee, Oconto, Shawano, and Vilas. Read more on NEWCAP financial assistance programs.

North Central Community Action Program, Inc.
Main location is 2111 8th Street South, Suite 102
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494
(715) 424-2581
Counties - Lincoln, Marathon, and Wood

Northwest Wisconsin Community Service Agency
Main address is 1118 Tower Avenue
Superior, WI 54880
Phone - (715) 392-5127
Supports residents of Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, and Price. Call for information on resources, including job training and emergency financial assistance. Or find other information on Northwest Wisconsin Community Service Agency.

Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency
2113 N. Wisconsin Street
Racine, WI 53402
Telephone: (262) 637-8377
For more details on their emergency assistance programs, including VITA for income taxes, click here.

Social Development Commission
Address - 4041 N. Richards Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Primary telephone number - (414) 906-2700
One of the largest non-profit community action agencies in Wisconsin. A number of assistance programs are offered to the low income and working poor. Look into employment counseling, Head Start, and grants from programs such as LIHEAP. Other financial aid may be eviction prevention / rental assistance in the forms of loans or grants. Or the homeless in Milwaukee can explore transitional housing or referrals for security deposit programs. Read Social Development Commission community action agency.

Southwestern Community Action Program
149 North Iowa Street
Dodgeville, Wisconsin 53533
Telephone: (608) 935-2326
Regions include Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, and Richland

West Central Wisconsin CAA, Inc. (West CAP)
525 Second Street
Glenwood City, WI 54013-0308
Call (715) 265-4271
Counties supported are Chippawa, Barron, Polk, St. Croix, Pierce, Pepin, and Dunn. Call the non-profit for information on government benefits such as Head Start or WHEAP heating bill assistance. Case managers help the low income, unemployed, and less fortunate. Click here emergency help from West Central CAA.





Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council
23122 Whitehall Rd.
Independence, Wisconsin 54747-0125
(715) 985-2391
If you live in the western part of the state, including counties of Buffalo, Eau Claire, Jackson and Trempealeau, call this non-profit for referrals, case management, and support.

By Jon McNamara














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