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Geoduck Resource Guide: Government Assistance Programs And How To Apply For Them

A comprehensive list of community resources relevant to Evergreen students at both Olympia and Tacoma campuses.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Basic Food Assistance / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Basic Food (federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known colloquially as "food stamps") is a federally-funded assistance program that helps people pay for food items. The amount of SNAP benefits you can receive are based on your income, family size, and monthly income (rent, medical bills, utilities). A benefit estimator can be found online through DSHS's online benefit calculator.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is an income-based program that provides cash for Washington state residents who are pregnant and/or responsible for children. TANF families are limited to sixty months of benefits in their lifetime unless they qualify for a time limit extension. 

I'm a student. Can I receive SNAP benefits?

Information on student eligibility for SNAP benefits can be found under the Washington State Legislature's WAC 388-482-0005 "How does being a student of higher education affect my eligibility for the Washington basic food program?" page. A highlighted-and-annotated version of this document, created by a student employee, is available above.

Legal immigrants that are ineligible for SNAP benefits can apply for State Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits.


Applying For TANF and/or Food Benefits

Be sure to have handy:

  • Social Security number 
  • Name, date of birth, and social security number (tribal status if applicable) for other household residents
    • "Household" applies only to a tax filer, their spouse if they have one, and their tax dependents. Roommates, landlords, etc., are not included as "household" residents that need to be included on this application and/or a Medicaid application. 
  • Paystub / Gross amount of pay before tax reductions 
  • Business name for place of employment, and phone number 
  • How much you/your household pays for Rent / Mortgage 
  • Utilities that you pay for
    • Car insurance, credit payments, etc., is not included, is counted as an "Other Fee")
  • Make, Year, and Model of vehicle (if applicable)

On-campus students do not pay for rent or utilities unless stated otherwise. When in doubt, contact RAD at rad@evergreen.edu (360) 867-6132.


The easiest and quickest way to apply for benefits is through washingtonconnection.org, although you can also apply through these methods:

  • Visit a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) office and bring a printed application (attached above) or fill out an application there
  • Call 1-877-501-2233
  • Printing out a copy and faxing your application to 1-888-338-7410
  • Mailing your filled out application to the following address: 
DSHS 

CSD-Customer Service Center 

PO Box 11699 

Tacoma, WA 98411-6699

The closest office to The Evergreen State College, as well as the only DSHS office in Thurston County, is the Olympia Community Services Office, located at 6860 Capitol Blvd SE Tumwater, WA 98501. Other DSHS locations can be found at www.dshs.wa.gov.

The .pdf Application for Cash and/or Food Benefits is available in this webpage's attached files, as well as available in several languages:

Housing and Essential Needs (HEN)

The Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Referral program provides access to essential needs items and potential rental assistance for low-income individuals who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental incapacity.

While DSHS/CSD determines eligibility for the referral to the HEN program, actual eligibility for rental assistance and essential needs items is determined by the Department of Commerce through a network of homeless and homeless prevention service providers.

HEN benefits may include:

  • Limited rent and utility assistance
  • Move-in costs
  • Personal health and hygiene items
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Transportation assistance.

You are ineligible for HEN if you:

  • Are eligible for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program
  • Do not pursue federal aid assistance (e.g. Medicaid) without good cause
  • Do not participate in substance use disorder treatment (when required) without good cause
  • Are eligible for SSI benefits or are an ineligible spouse of an SSI recipient
  • Do not follow a Social Security Administration (SSA) program rule or application requirement and SSA denied or terminated your benefits.

You would apply for HEN benefits the same way you apply for SNAP and/or TANF benefits.

 

Apple Health (Medicaid)

The quickest way to apply for Medicaid is through wahealthplanfinder.org, but you can fill out a printed application (attached above) and either fax it to 1-855-867-4467 or mail it to

Washington Healthplanfinder
PO Box 946
Olympia, Washington, 98507 

To speak with Washington Healthplanfinder bilingual staff, request materials be translated, written materials in other formats (audio, braille, etc.,) or an interpreter for free in your preferred language, call their Customer Support Center line at 1-855-923-4633. 

Toll-Free: 1-855-923-4633 

TTY/TDD: 1-855-627-9604  

This application will deduce whether you qualify for:

• Free or low-cost health care coverage from Washington Apple Health
(Medicaid), including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
• A tax credit that can help you pay your health care premiums for a
Qualified Health Plan
• Full-cost private Qualified Health Plan and Qualified Dental Plan

I'm a student who is from Washington or has established residency in the state of Washington. Can I receive Medicaid?

Unlike applying for SNAP, college students are eligible for Medicaid (and other listed healthcare coverages) without any requirements or stipulations. A single person with a monthly income of $1,468 or less is currently eligible. There is no minimum income requirement for single pregnant women.

 

Subsidized Housing / Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) is a federally funded program that provides rental assistance to low-income households based on their income. The assistance is paid directly to the landlord once a lease agreement has been signed and the assisted unit has been inspected and approved. Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. A local Housing Authority determines your eligibility based on:

  • annual gross income
  • whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family
  • U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

What Are Housing Choice Vouchers?

From the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development:

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies(PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. 

If you require immediate housing: please contact Thurston County's emergency shelter hotline at 1-844-628-7343 (for Tacoma/Pierce County, contact 2-1-1), or your local Public Housing Authority. In most areas, you may have to wait 1-5 years for a housing voucher or public housing placement, and in certain jurisdictions, waitlists are so full that a Public Housing Authority (PHA) may stop accepting applications and have windows where applications are accepted. Some PHAs have long waiting lists, so you may want to apply at more than one PHA. You can apply to any PHA regardless of county or city. 


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Housing Authority of Thurston County

Tacoma Housing Authority

Pierce County Housing Authority

Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington

  • Includes Cowlitz County (except Kalama and Kelso), Lewis, Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties

 

 

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