Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment



  • Iowa Food Assistance Program  – Monthly food assistance benefits, Call: 877-347-5678
  • Iowa General Assistance  Designed to meet basic needs of Iowans in emergency situations. Basic needs include shelter, utilities, food, and clothing, Call: Local County Community Services
  • Iowa Family Investment Program (FIP)  – Provides cash assistance to needy families as they become self-supporting so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relativesCall: 515-281-6899
  • Iowa Family Self Sufficiency Grants (FSSG) Provide immediate and short-term assistance to PROMISE JOBS participant familiesCall: 515-281-6899
  • Iowa Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)  – Provides cash assistance for up to eight months to Iowa needy families, including single adults, who enter the United States as refugees, Call: 515-281-6899
  • Iowa Children’s Health Insurance Program (Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa – hawk-i)  – A health insurance program that provides healthcare coverage for children and families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford individual or work-provided healthcare, Call: 800-257-8563
  • Iowa Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Iowa residents, Call: 800-972-2017
  • Iowa Health and Wellness Plan  – Provides comprehensive health care coverage to low income adults age 19-64 with an income up to 133 % of the Federal Poverty Level, Call: 800-972-2017
  • Iowa Health Insurance Premium Payment Program  – Designed to help eligible Iowa residents get insurance or keep insurance they already have by reimbursing the cost of the premiums, Call: 515-725-0725
  • Iowa Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 800-532-1579
  • Iowa National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 515-281-4754
  • Iowa Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 515-281-4754
  • Iowa School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 515-281-4754
  • Iowa Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 515-281-4760
  • Iowa Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day careCall: 515-281-3744
  • Iowa Head Start and Early Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 515-331-8000
  • Iowa Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) – Helps households in Iowa with their home heating expensesCall: 515-281-0859
  • Iowa Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: Local outreach office
  • Iowa Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  – Designed to improve the health of Iowa seniors  by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods, Call: 800-972-2017
  • Iowa Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh Iowa-grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh-cut herbs at farmers’ markets, Call: 515-725-3333
  • Iowa Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) – Employment program for older Iowans that help them gain marketable job skills working part-time in non-profit and public organizations , Call: 800-532-3213
  • Iowa Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income Iowans lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Iowa Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for low-income Iowans., Call: Local PHA


Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Iowa – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Iowa homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Iowa homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.

Rental Help for Iowa Residents

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Section 8 Housing Program is a federally funded rental assistance for low-income families, disabled persons, and the elderly. The Section 8 Housing helps underprivileged afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market where the program is available.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides federal grants to local public housing agencies, which, in turn, issue rent subsidies via Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) to qualifying Section 8 participants for use in the private market. Find more about Housing Choice Vouchers.

The Housing Choice Vouchers which provide Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) are portable. The Section 8 TBRA cannot be tied to any specific housing unit or real estate. The TBRA assistance goes with the household not the property. Housing Choice Vouchers can be taken, if the beneficiaries move to a different place, and used to subsidize the rent of the new housing of choice.

Each year U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets Fair Market rent limits for housing units based on its size and community market conditions. This Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, as reported by HUD, provides for close to 22 thousand housing units in total for the needy families and individuals across the State of Iowa.

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers Program for Iowa is administered through the Public Housing Authorities. The Housing Choice Voucher Program  helps Iowa eligible individuals and families broaden their housing options in the private rental market.

Usually, each Housing Authority has a waiting list that is closed most of the time and the applications for the Section 8 Vouchers are taken periodically at a time determined by the Housing Authority. The open period for taking Section 8 applications is advertised and all related social service agencies are notified. Once on the waiting list, applicants must notify the local Housing Authority every 12 months in writing of their continued interest to remain on the waiting list.

When the waiting list is open, completed applications are accepted from all applicants. The Housing Authority will then verify the information in each application relevant to the applicant’s eligibility, admission and benefits level. Some housing authorities have lists with order of priority.

Once a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is issued,  the family has to find Section 8 approved housing of their choice Choices of housing units may include family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the local Housing Authority. Section 8 HCV assistance does not pay for security deposits and moving expenses. The tenant is responsible for paying for any utilities not included in the rent according to the lease.

Income eligibility limits and benefit levels are based on local median income and local housing costs but are set largely at the federal level with limited local discretion. Income requirements are set generally as less than 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), but can be up to 80% in some cases. By law, seventy five percent of the newly issued vouchers must go to families with incomes below 30% of the Area Median Income.

Current recipients maintain vouchers until their income reaches a level at which the value of their housing subsidy is reduced to $0.00 – all housing subsidies are calculated based on family income, housing costs, and other factors.

For specifics on eligibility for each Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher please, check with your local Iowa Housing Authority.

Search Section 8 listed rentals in Iowa here

Project-Based Rental Assistance

Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) promotes affordable housing opportunities through Project Based Contract Administration of 230 rental properties. The Project Based Section 8 Program involves over 9,000 units throughout the state of Iowa. Project Based rental assistance pays part of the rent to qualified tenants for a specific building designated as Section 8 and subsidized by federal government grants with purpose to provide affordable housing for low-income families.  Applications are accepted and waiting lists are maintained at each housing site.The populations served are households that are extremely-low income with income up to 50% of the Area Median Income. HUD establishes and publishes the income parameters annually. For details on current Iowa Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance contact Iowa Finance Authority at: 800-432-7230

Public Housing – Subsidized and Low-Rent Apartments

Public Housing provides safe, decent and affordable rental housing to eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides federal grants to local Public Housing Agencies (PHA) that manage the public housing developments for low-income residents at rents they can afford.

In general, housing developments owned, managed and maintained by the local PHA are referred to as Conventional Housing, or Low Rent Public Housing and units are offered to eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities at rental rates established by the PHA authorities within the HUD income limits and guidelines.

In Iowa State there are close to 4,000 public housing units where the local Housing Authorities serve as the landlord and rents these units to eligible tenants.

In general, to qualify for Public Housing, applicants or participants must earn no more than 80% of area median income (AMI).

Public Housing benefits are not portable like the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers or HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance. The Housing Assistance is attached to the Public Housing unit that is being rented to eligible participants.

Inquire about current availability of subsidized and low-rent apartments at you local Iowa Housing Authorities.

Search for affordable subsidized apartments in Iowa using the HUD database.

 Housing Counseling Services

Contact one of the HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies in Iowa State for the following education workshops or counseling services

  • Mortgage Delinquency and Default Resolution Counseling
  • Fair Housing Pre-Purchase Education Workshops
  • Financial Management/Budget Counseling
  • Financial, Budgeting and Credit Repair Workshops
  • Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Non-Delinquency Post Purchase Workshops
  • Pre-purchase Counseling
  • Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshops
  • Predatory Lending Education Workshops
  • Rental Housing Counseling
  • Rental Housing Workshops
  • Resolving/Preventing Mortgage Delinquency Workshops
  • Services for Homeless Counseling
  • Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling

Iowa Homeless Service Organizations

Iowa Finance Authority administers different programs that provide federal grants to Iowa regional homeless service organizations. Federal grants and State funding are used to coordinate local resources and provide assistance to homeless Iowa individuals and families. Following Iowa Homelessness Programs are managed by Iowa Finance Authority and target population with different needs.

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program is funded by federal government grants and is designed to help people in housing crisis and facing homelessness, or already homeless. Services under this program are delivered by the local governments and nonprofit service agencies across Iowa.

Shelter Assistance Fund (SAF) Program is funded by State of Iowa and resources are generally used to support  shelters’ operations for homeless and victims of domestic violence. Eligible organization to use the grants of this program include city and county governments, and nonprofit service agencies across Iowa.

There are other programs that address homelessness in State of Iowa. The Iowa Finance Authority encourages everyone experiencing homelessness or at risk to become homeless to contact a local homeless service organization and check what are currently available options.

If you are homeless in Iowa and need help – call the listed homeless service organization in your area.

Adair County

Primary Health Care
1200 University Avenue #120, Des Moines, Iowa 50314
Provides rental assistance to persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS who are homeless or at-risk for homelessness and who meet the income guidelines.

Family Crisis Support Network
Atlantic, Iowa
Domestic Violence Service

MATURA Action Corporation
203 W Adams Street, Creston, Iowa 50801
A community action agency that provides homelessness prevention, emergency food and shelter, energy assistance, weatherization, and other community services

Adams County

Corning Public Housing Authority
1125 Westgage Drive, Corning, Iowa 50841
Low Rent Programs

Lenox Public Housing Authority
401 E Ohio Street, Lenox, Iowa 50851
Low Rent Programs

Ruby Slippers
Siouxland Community Health Center, 1021 Nebraska
Provides rental assistance

MATURA Action Corporation
203 W Adams Street, Creston, Iowa 50801
A community action agency that provides homelessness prevention, emergency food and shelter, energy assistance, weatherization, and other community services

More Iowa Homeless Service Organizations

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Iowa

Iowa Food Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. More about SNAP.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

In Iowa State the SNAP is called Iowa Food Assistance Program and is administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). According to Iowa DHS  “Fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods can help you and your family be healthy and productive. Sometimes these healthy foods are expensive and families need extra help purchasing them.” That is where the Food Assistance Program helps all qualified Iowa households by using the government grants to issue food stamp benefits. Also, the federal grants for Food Assistance help local economy. The Food Stamp benefits spend at local stores mean more jobs for Iowa residents.

Iowa Food Assistance Program aims to add more nutritious food to the table of the program qualifying  low-income people. The monetary benefits of the Iowa Food Assistance are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through electronic debit cards.


Who is Eligible for Food Assistance Benefits in Iowa?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Iowa, like in other States, are based on the household resources, income, household size, and are largely determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

There are two most common basic requirements to qualify for Food Assistance Benefits in any state: 1) you must be a resident (citizen or legal immigrant) of that State, and 2) the household has to meet the State income guidelines.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. For example, DHS can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

Iowa Food Assistance Program is primarily designed for individuals and families in need of help, with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

In general, to qualify for Food Assistance Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Iowa Resident – must be U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, all able-bodied members of the household 18 to 50 years of age must not quit their jobs while getting food stamps;
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition, and if a household member was disqualified because of breaking the program rules. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet gross income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits etc. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. Some of allowed deductions are 20% of earned income, certain cost of dependent care, portion of medical expenses,  child support paid and a percentage of shelter costs. Local DHS Office can help with the current list of all allowable deductions. Some households that do not meet the above income guidelines might be eligible if their monthly income is not more than 160% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Check the table with Food Assistance Program income limits per household size below.
Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income
160 % of poverty level
Gross Monthly Income
130 % of poverty level
Net Monthly Income
100 % of poverty level
Each additional member+$555+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards


Some Iowa residents may be automatically or so called broad-based categorically eligible for Food Assistance if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs.

Getting any benefits including pamphlets from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by federal grants, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for Food Assistance categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and any asset eligibility rules.

If you do have to meet an asset test, your home and the value of at least one vehicle will not count.

You can always call 1-877-347-5678 with any question on Food Assistance Eligibility.


Food Assistance Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get Iowa Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Iowa food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your Iowa local DHS Office.

Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for Food Assistance benefits and you should still apply.

Only Iowa DHS Office can determine your eligibility and grant you Food Assistance Benefits.


What are the Iowa Food Assistance Benefits in Dollar Amount?

If approved, the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Only households with very little or no income get the maximum benefit amount.

Check below what are the maximum allowed food stamp monetary amounts. The dollar amounts are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments


How to Apply for Food Assistance Benefits in Iowa?

To apply for Iowa Food Assistance benefits, contact your local DHS office, print the DHS Financial Support Application, or use the online service at their website.

You can also call toll free 1-877-DHS-5678 to find out where your local Iowa Department of Human Services office is located. In the application fill out all the required information and submit it.

If you do not have all the required information, complete as much of the application as you can – this will help DHS workers determine your eligibility more quickly.

All household members who want benefits must provide their SSN and citizenship/immigration information.

At minimum, a Food Assistance Application to be accepted, it must contain your name, address and a signature.

An official has to process your application and to interview you in order to decide if you are eligible for Food Stamp Benefits.

The date your application is received by the DHS local office is the date from which you eligibility for Food Assistance Benefits will be determined.

You will get an answer about your application within 30 days of your filing date. If eligible, you will start receiving your Food Stamp Benefits from the date the DHS office received your signed application.

Call DHS Customer Call Center at 1-877-347-5678 if you have questions about the Food Assistance Benefits and the application process.


Iowa Food Assistance Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

If you submitted application for Food Assistance Benefits and the DHS have scheduled you for an interview they may require you to bring certain application supporting documents and proofs.

Here are some examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:

  • Proof of Identity (Driver’s License, State ID card);
  • Proof of citizenship (Birth Certificate, Passport)
  • Proof of lawful immigration status ONLY for non-citizens applying for benefits (an Alien Registration Card, visa);
  • Proof of earned income of everyone in your household for the past four weeks (recent pay stubs, a work statement from an employer). If self-employed, income and expense or tax records;
  • Proof of unearned income for each household member (Unemployment benefits, SSI, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, school grants or loans, rental income, etc.);

Iowa DHS has made available a list of question that has to be answered by each person of the household applying for Food Assistance Benefits:

  • Are you getting Food Assistance from another state?
  • Do you have an Iowa EBT card?
  • Are you age 18 or over and in college or trade school?
  • Have you been hired for a job but not paid yet?
  • Have you quit a job in the last 30 days?
  • Are you a migrant or seasonal farm worker?
  • Are you on strike?
  • Do you get help from anyone paying your bills?
  • Do you have any cars, trucks, boats, campers, motorcycles or other vehicles?
  • Do you have or own any land, buildings or houses other than the house you live in?
  • Are you fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or jail for a felony crime?
  • Are you violating a condition of probation or parole?
  • Are you in or expecting to go to jail or prison?
  • Are you disqualified from a food assistance program in any State for fraud or program violation?
  • Do you have a trust?
  • List the total money you have in: Bank/credit union accounts, Checking/savings, Stocks, bonds, savings certificates, or other assets, Cash
  • How much is your rent?
  • If you pay taxes or insurance separate from your mortgage, how much do you pay?
  • Which utilities do you pay?
  • How much are your day care expenses?
  • How much do you pay for child support?
  • Enter the medical expenses for anyone who is disabled or over age 59, not paid by insurance

The federal rules state that healthy adults ages 18 to 50 years old who do not have dependent children can only receive food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 36-month period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program.

The Iowa Food Assistance Employment and Training Program provides job-seeking skills training and employment assistance to food stamp recipients in some counties of Iowa State. Participation in the work program is voluntary.

Food Assistance Program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries regarding income limits, deductions, limits of resources and exemptions from work requirements.

Households getting food stamps benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the local office in order to assure their participation in the Food Assistance program.

All Food Assistance beneficiaries are required to complete eligibility reviews, usually every 6 or 12 months, in order to continue receiving food stamps benefits. The DHS Office would notify the food recipients when it is time for the household to renew its Food Assistance Benefits.

Applicants waiting for Food Assistance Benefits approval in Iowa should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted the application to the local DHS Office.


Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food Assistance Benefits?

Iowa Food Assistance Program provides the food stamp benefits via the State Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Iowa SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through the Iowa EBT Card.

The Food Assistance Benefits are made available over the first 10 calendar days of every month, based on the first letter of the client’s last name:

First Letter of the Last Name is: A or B = benefits available on the 1st
First Letter of the Last Name is: C or D = benefits available on the 2nd
First Letter of the Last Name is: E, F, or G = benefits available on the 3rd
First Letter of the Last Name is: H or I = benefits available on the 4th
First Letter of the Last Name is: J, K, or L = benefits available on the 5th
First Letter of the Last Name is: M, N, or O = benefits available on the 6th
First Letter of the Last Name is: P, Q, or R = benefits available on the 7th
First Letter of the Last Name is: S = benefits available on the 8th
First Letter of the Last Name is: T, U, or V = benefits available on the 9th
First Letter of the Last Name is: W,X,Y, or Z = benefits available on the 10th

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Iowa EBT Card call Iowa EBT Customer Service: 1-800-359-5802


How and Where to Use the Food Assistance Benefits?

Iowa Food Assistance Program provides the SNAP benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Iowa SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Iowa EBT Card.

Food Assistance Benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores in State of Iowa.

With their EBT cards households can buy almost any food for human consumption from approved markets and groceries. Notable exception are: tobacco, alcohol, food supplements, meals from restaurants, and hot food for immediate consumption. For security reasons, USDA does not allow EBT cards to be used online to buy food from Internet websites.


I Need Food Stamps Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services, as per federal rules – that is food assistance benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker.

In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. You can always contact local Food Assistance Office for more information. Use the following phone number to get more information on Food Assistance Program in the State of Iowa: 1-877-347-5678