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Help for Hard Times

United Way 2-1-1

United Way's 2-1-1 aims to make accessing resources easier for those in need. Simply dial or text 2-1-1 to connect with a specialist who can help you find options for financial assistance, food resources, housing search, addiction treatment, health care, mental health, or heating and utilities assistance.

Quick Links

Our librarians are often asked to find community resources related to food assistance, health assistance, housing assistance, and shelter. While United Way's 2-1-1 is the most comprehensive resource available, the following quick links are helpful for basic needs assistance.

Food Assistance

The Madison and Dane County Food Resource Guide is available in English and Spanish and contains information about local food pantries and free meal sites, as well as nutrition program information, including FoodShare (food stamp) information.

Free and Lower Cost Medical Care

The best source of information for free and lower cost clinic options is the Public Health of Madison & Dane County website.

Housing Assistance and Shelter

The Beacon is a comprehensive day resource center for people who are experiencing homelessness in Dane County. Basic needs assistance includes showers, laundry, mail services, restrooms, and lunch.

Please see the Dane County Homeless Resource Guide for a full list of resources available in English and Spanish.

Emergency shelter information can be found on the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County website. If you are experiencing homelessness, information about getting on a housing priority list can be found on the Coordinated Entry section of the Homeless Services Consortium website.

Housing Navigation is available, in person, at the Beacon in office 201. You can find schedule and appointment information and housing vacancy lists on the Homeless Services Consortium website.

The Tenant Resource Center provides additional housing information, including subsidized and public housing lists.  

Homeless Resource Guide

On-Site Social Services at the Central Library

Find out about the local services agencies the Library partners with to provide on-site outreach and referral services.

All Social Services Websites

Find out if you are eligible to receive help through Wisconsin's health and nutrition programs. | more info »
The Area Agency on Aging of Dane County serves individuals who are age 60 and over and/or their family members by providing information and assistance in accessing services that will help older adults stay in their own homes and communities. | more info »
Federal agency for medicare and medicaid information and statistics. | more info »
Porchlight strives to decrease the Dane County homeless population by providing shelter, housing, supportive services, and a sense of community in ways that empower residents and program participants to positively shape their lives. | more info »
YWCA Madison has designed several services that help women and their families find their place in the world. | more info »
A nonprofit, multi-care organization assisting older and disabled adults to live with independence and dignity and maintain health and well being. Includes area services like Meals on Wheels. | more info »
Jewish Social Services provides assistance to refugees and their families through a variety of services and resources to help them become self-sufficient and create a safe and stable life in the Dane County area. | more info »
Resources on the following topics: Aging & Caregiver Resources, Alzheimer's & Dementia, End of Life, Essential Preparation, General, Health, Housing & Long-Term Care, Safe & Healthy at Home. | more info »
Madison Senior Center involves older adults in their community and the Senior Center, as leaders, teachers and learners; provides a balance, diverse and coordinated program; and promotes the Senior Center as a model for the aging and aged. | more info »
From this page you can access a variety of information on programs and services in Wisconsin for older people and caregivers. A brief description of each service is available. | more info »
The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) is the largest, most effective grassroots coalition of senior organizations in the country. | more info »
Contacts for financial help to purchase insurance coverage through United Way’s HealthConnect program and the free, confidential community resources provided by 2-1-1. | more info »