June 7, 2011

The basics for getting help: Where to begin searching and applying for financial assistance

Where to start your search for financial assistance with rent, utilities, food, clothing, healthcare needs, etc., ...
*Please note that all links to resources mentioned below are provided both on the right hand side of the page, as well as at the bottom of the post.

One of the best places to begin a search for financial assistance is 211. The 211 service provides a list of various resources in your area; and with basic information, they are able to determine what may be available to you and what you may qualify for. You can call 211 or go to the 211 website.

The Salvation Army is frequently on that list, and I would encourage anyone seeking help to check out The Salvation Army website, call the toll free number and/or go to the closest location in person. They offer assistance with rent, utilities, clothes, food, prescription coverage, and a few other resources. It's first come, first served .. therefore, it's best to try to schedule an appointment slot as soon as possible (typically at the beginning of each month), and make sure you can get to the appointment when the time comes.

Catholic Community Outreach Services is another charity at the top of the list when it comes to the number of people they are able to help. Again, you have to be both patient and diligent: Keep calling, make appointments and show up if you have an appointment on the books.

If you are low income (or are making your bills, but still struggling monthly to make everything stretch comfortably), you may very likely qualify for food assistance. If you are in need for basic things like food assistance, please go online or call DSHS. Qualifying for some degree of food assistance (food stamps/EBT) has a more generous requirement guideline. More individuals and families qualify for help than one would expect. Even a little help each month can make a difference with your monthly expenses and ability to pay all your bills. And, a bonus with utilizing EBT is the fact that an individual no longer is forced to use actual "food stamps." Yes, some feel using this form of help is embarrassing, but come on, we all need to eat! Do not deprive yourself and your health. *Also, once qualified for food assistance, you are provided a list of possible other resources (and sometimes enrolled automatically) which may be available to you; i.e., free phone service, now both home/land line and cell phone, along with certain healthcare services and other helpful resources.

For additional utility related assistance, please go to your utility company's customer solution department and request the programs they have available for financial aid. Some companies have one time family grants, in addition to discounts of around 25% (all dependent on that utility company's terms) for those with disabilities, senior discounts, and low income discounts. Also, if you're in need of utility help, contact LIHEAP. Please see the list of links below for LIHEAP's website.

Lastly, Modestneeds.org offers small lump sum grants for a variety of different emergency situations. It varies depending on your location, situation and qualifications. The grant maximum cap is one time $1000 assistance.

For any type of assistance you will frequently find that you are made to "jump through hoops," so to speak. You will typically be required to provide a number of documents. Examples include but are not limited to: Proof of your income, or lack of income (Award letters for SSDI, SSI, unemployment benefits, pay stubs, or statement(s) prepared by the person whom is providing some form of housing and other basic expenses if you are without income), billing statements, shut off notice/eviction notice, as well as identification, social security numbers and cards for each member of a given household, letters of circumstance, tax returns, and so forth. Charities and programs may vary with their particular requirements, but all require some form of identification and proof of your current form of income/means of survival. If you are seeking help from a multitude of places, I would suggest creating a folder/envelope which will contain copies of all possible documents needed to begin the application/qualification process. This will make the entire process go much quicker and easier for both yourself and the respective program/charity from which you are requesting help.

Please scroll down to view links to various sites listed above

Resource Links:

1 comment:

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