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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.

Public Health Madison & Dane County has a Community Resources Guide in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF), updated in 2023, as well as a list of links on their Community Resources web page.

Food Assistance

The Madison and Dane County Food Resource Guide is available in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF), updated in 2023 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.

Rental Assistance

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) has a list of Housing Stabilization Services on their 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. The shelter also offers access to other agencies that provide assistance on site.

Dane County Department of Human Services publishes a Homeless Resources Guide in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF) (coming soon), updated in 2023.

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 (Monday thru Friday, 9am to 2pm) or at the Dane County Job Center (Thursdays, 8:30am to 4:30pm). 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.

More Social Services Websites

Find out if you are eligible to receive help through Wisconsin's health and nutrition programs. | more info »
The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Dane County provides information about resources and support on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a disability. | more info »
Find Madison detox, inpatient, and outpatient rehab centers. | more info »
Federal agency for medicare and medicaid information and statistics. | more info »
CRC supports women and human trafficking survivors as they turn their lives around. | more info »
The goal of the Dementia Crisis Program is to reduce the likelihood that persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive deficits who experience a behavioral crisis will need to leave their home of choice. To learn more about the Dane County Dementia Program, please contact call the APS Helpline at 608-261-9933. | 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 »
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 »
Journey provides care for those experiencing addictions, mental illness, and mental health crises. | 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 »
Neighborhood House offers a plethora of programs and services including: food pantry, laundry, youth & teen summer camps, after-school programs, mentoring, meeting spaces, wellness and enrichment classes for adults, social programming for adults with disabilities, technology lab, transportation assistance, community meals, neighborhood events, and much more! | 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 »
Free job training, career counseling, and job placement services in Madison. | more info »