Last Updated: May 19, 2022. Report error / Make suggestion

What should I do if I need cash or medical help?

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a government program that provides temporary cash and medical help for families in need. In order to be eligible, your family must have financial resources of $1000 or less (you may also have up to $3,000 in a savings account). These resources include things such as checking accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and vehicle equity. Generally, you can only receive TANF for 60 months.

You can apply for TANF online by visiting the Washington Connection website. You can also apply in person at your local Department of Social and Health Services Community Services Office. Find an office near you, or call 1-877-501-2233 for more information.

Where can I find help with getting food?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “Basic Food” in Washington, helps low income people make ends meet by providing monthly benefits to buy food through an electronic benefits card (EBT Card). With Basic Food benefits you can buy food such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Participating in Basic Food also provides other benefits, including free school meals for school-aged children as well as low-cost local phone service through the Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP), and eligibility for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

Eligibility is based on your monthly income and household size. Generally, low-income families who earn 200% or less of the federal poverty level are eligible.

You can estimate how much your household might receive from Basic Food by using the online benefit estimator tool.

You can apply for Basic Food online through the Washington Connection portal. You can also apply by mail or by visiting a local DSHS Community Services Office (CSO). DSHS Basic Food Benefits page.

What is the Emergency Food Assistance Program and how do I apply for it?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP/EFAP) provides free food in cases of an emergency. Your criminal history will not impact your ability to get food through this program. Low-income families who earn 185% or less of the federal poverty level and are in need of food can receive TEFAP/EFAP food. The federal poverty level may change every year. View current guidelines. For more information about income and TEFAP/EFAP.

For more information and to find where you can receive local TEFAP assistance, call 211.

How can I find information about food banks near me?

Find the nearest food bank visit or visit our Food Banks & Meal Sites page. All you need to do to receive food from the pantry is declare that you do not have the resources to feed yourself or your family. Some food pantries may have other requirements, for example you may have to live in a certain area or may only use their services a certain number of times per year.

Is extra help available for mothers and children?

The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) provides monthly checks for healthy food, health screenings and referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support. WIC is primarily for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under five years old. Dads, grandparents, and other caregivers of children under five may also sign the children up for WIC. Foster children under age five and foster teens who are pregnant may also be eligible. WIC does not provide food to you directly; instead, you will receive checks that you can use to purchase certain food items at the grocery store.

You can find more information about WIC eligibility.

What should I do if I need help with finding a place to live?

The best way to get information about housing services is by visiting your local housing authority, either online or in person. Find information about your local housing authority.

What about housing vouchers? Am I eligible? How do I apply?

Section 8 is a federal program that provides housing choice vouchers to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. If you receive a Section 8 housing voucher, you are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. You can apply for Section 8 through your local public housing agencies (PHAs). Your local PHA will help you figure out the program rules that apply to you. Complete list of PHAs in Washington.


The information on this website is not legal advice. You should not and are not authorized to rely on this website as a source of legal advice. While Civil Survival goes to great lengths to make sure the information on the website is accurate, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of this website. We recommend that you consult with an attorney for assurance that the information on the website and your interpretation of it are appropriate for your situation.

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