Spring is Here and So are More Resources for Low Incomes


SpringKimSpring, which is now upon us, is already bringing warmer weather and pretty blossoms to Lane County.  Although this is a happy time for many reasons, like having lower electric bills and seeing more than gray skies and lawns, for the at least 14,029 unemployed Lane county residents, it’s just another season passing by without work.

The doom and gloom began for us and the rest of the nation in March of 2009, this was when we saw the height of an unemployment crisis that for us locally went up by 8% in just 1 year, taking us from our approximate 5% unemployment rate up to a high of 13.5%!

Now, 4 years later, even though there are many still unemployed, this Spring doesn’t have to be seen as doom and gloom. Instead, it can be looked upon as boom and zoom, because we continue to watch our job growth boom and our unemployment rates zoom, but this time their zooming in a downward pattern. Yes, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel that we’ve been traveling through for quite some time, because according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that came out just a few days ago, we are now just about 2.5% away from being back to our normal rates. This is great news that comes with our 2013 Spring, however, it may not be of too much comfort to those still looking for work or those with low incomes even with full time work. There is hope for them too, and that hope can be found online in the form of assistance programs. In fact, like most job applications, most assistance programs are also online.

Whether you are tech savvy or tech navvy (a laborer who is obliged to do menial work), okay that doesn’t quite work, so lets say a tech newbie, whatever, either way you still need to know where to look for help when you or a loved one are in tough times.  That’s where, once again, this Spring is a good one, because with the coming of Spring and the month of March, many programs across the city, county and state, are again receiving funding for the 2013 year. This means it’s a good time to apply for assistance if you need it, especially since some assistance is first come first serve.

And if this is not a time you’re in need, it’s still a good list to print out or bookmark in case one day you do need it.  Keeping it in an “emergency” file in your own home finance file is always a good idea and can help you feel a bit less stressed in knowing that you are prepared in case you do find yourself out of work, facing an unexpected high bill or other reason for needing some assistance.

Lane County and National Unemployment Rates Current and Past
Lane County and National Unemployment Rates Current and Past

I do this myself and with this list I also keep an “emergency budget.”  An emergency budget is just one that is what you would have to cut if you found yourself suddenly living on unemployment or savings. On mine I calculate what income I think I may have from unemployment, savings or assistance programs (listed below) and then I put the things that must be paid, such as rent / mortgage, utility bills (with a note to be even more strict on lights on or water usage), internet at it’s lowest rate (as I work from home or will need it to find work), cell phone (also cut to its lowest), gas and food. I remove from it cable and any other things for entertainment or non-necessity value.

As I mentioned earlier, these resources listed below are not only for the unemployed, these resources below can be of help to any that are experiencing difficulties with their finances. Don’t automatically count yourself out if you think you are making “too” much. Some of these scales can go quite high, so always check it out.

Before the list starts, just a word of warning, especially for seniors as they are often targeted most,  never ever should you have to pay for anything that is offering you financial assistance. Such as a prescription assistance program that tells you they can lower prescription costs by signing up for a membership first.

There are very few, if any, legit businesses that will ask you for money to cover some “fees,” or money for some type of membership if you have low income. If you are ever asked for money for any assistance program, be sure to put their business name through the Better Business Bureau’s website search first. If it doesn’t have a good rating, or any rating, don’t use them.

Now onto the list. Thanks to our high-tech world, nearly all of these programs can be applied for online, and again, do not be afraid to apply if you think you are over an income limit, most of these are quite generous as they know you have other things that come out of your paycheck if you have one, like taxes and health insurance. And, if you’re someone fortunate enough to not need help right now, you can also use this list as a resource to know how you can help others, as these links also include how to volunteer or donate to help those that do need these services.

Lane County Resources for Seniors, Low Income and No Income Residents

  • Lane County Senior and Disabled Services http://www.sdslane.org/
    This site has many different resources, some that are not just for seniors or the disabled, so it’s worth checking out no matter what your age or health. Some resources include: in-home care, long term care in licensed facilities,Senior Meals, Meals on Wheels, and support for non-paid family caregivers.
  • Food Assistance http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/spwpd/Pages/food_fin/foodfin.aspx
  • “Food Stamps” / “SNAP”: No need to go in to your local “Food Stamp” office (now known as the SNAP program). Thanks to technology you can now apply these food benefits online. You can also do the interview from home. Go to: http://www.sdslane.org/ortrail.html to begin filling out the application.
  • Emergency food box and free or reduced cost meals: If you need a food box, call (541) 343-2822, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to find out the location and hours for services near you. FOOD for Lane County also has a website at www.foodforlanecounty.org.
  • Farmers Market: From Senior & Disabled Services “The Oregon Department of Human Services operates the Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program that provides low-income seniors with checks that can be used to purchase fresh Oregon grown fruits, vegetables and cut herbs. The checks can only be used at approved farmers’ markets and farm stands. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve nutrition to Oregon seniors and support local Oregon farmers. Each spring eligible seniors are notified by mail they may participate in the program. Seniors that choose to participate are mailed checks that they can redeem for produce between June 1 and October 31 of the given year.
    • To be eligible, seniors must meet ALL of the following criteria:
      – Be at least 60 years old by April 1 of the relevant year;
      – Be receiving either SNAP benefits or Medicaid on April 1 of the – relevant year;
      – Be living in their own home or apartment;
      – Have income at or below 135% of the federal poverty level for the relevant year.
    • Also see the Oregon Farmers Market Association website.”
  • The Dining Room: Want to take the family out but can’t afford it? Check out The Dining Room. Operated by FOOD for Lane County, The Dining Room is a restaurant  in downtown Eugene that provides dinner to everyone at no cost. They are open Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m. Reservations are even accepted, which can be made starting at 3:30 p.m. The website says, “in addition to offering delicious meals, this innovative restaurant serves large portions of dignity and great atmosphere. The Dining Room is located at 270 W. 8th Avenue in Eugene between Lincoln and Charnelton.
  • Need an Extra Helping: Their site says, “Need an Extra Helping provides residents of affordable housing sites a few extra groceries to help them stretch limited resources. Because the program is organized by and for residents, it also provides opportunities for neighbors to work together to build stronger communities.” For more information, contact Kara Smith at (541) 343-2822 or [email protected].
  • Mobile Pantry: The mobile pantry provides a variety of fresh and shelf-stable groceries to low-income families and individuals. Each food box contains a 3-5 day supply of food.
  • Cereal for Youth: This program provides nutritious cereal to children and teens through schools and youth programs in Lane County. Their site says, “Hearthside and Glory Bee produce a new, highly nutritious cereal in 1.9 oz. size bags. These bags hold up well when milk is poured into them, or the cereal can be eaten dry, and children may eat the cereal at school or take it home for later.”For more information, contact Karen Roth at (541) 343-2822 or email [email protected].
  • Women, Infants, Children (WIC): www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/wic/about_us.shtml
  • Food Pantries: Food pantries have long been of help to Lane county residents that needed them. You do not have to be homeless or even super poor to go to a food pantry. Their qualifications are a lot less strict than other programs. If you would like to find one close to you go to: www.foodforlanecounty.org/Get_Help/index.html – or call FOOD for Lane County at 541-343-2822 or email [email protected].


Need help getting around? There are a few ways to get help, according to Lane Transit:

“The Lane Transit District provides public transportation to the Eugene/Springfield area and outlying communities. LTD offers a variety of programs and services. To find out more about schedules, fees and services call: (541) 687-5555 or 800-248-3861 or (TTY-Oregon Relay) 800-735-2900 or see the schedules at the LTD website.

  • Age 70 and older ride for free with the Honored Rider Pass
  • Age 62-69 are eligible for the Half Fare Card
  • Under age 62 and disabled may also be eligible for the Half Fare Card.
  • RideSource service provides curb-to-curb transportation for people who are unable to use regular bus service because of a disabling condition. Rides can be requested from 1-14 days in advance for trips within Eugene/Springfield. For detailed information about LTD RideSource eligibility, fees and services call (541) 682-5566, TTY: (541) 343-9557 or see LTD’s RideSource website.
  • RideSource Escort is a door-to-door, volunteer based service for people who need more help than our regular RideSource curb-to-curb service provides. Service is available to and from medical appointments only. (Eligibility standards apply.)
  • RideSource Shopper is a once-a-week shopping service, offering a neighborly alternative to going out on your own. This service provides transportation for grocery shopping on a regularly scheduled route. The driver assists with getting groceries on and off the bus. Service is available in Eugene, Springfield, and Coburg.
  • For public transportation services available in the outlying areas of Lane County go to: http://www.sdslane.org/pubtransp.html.”
  • Gas for Your Vehicle: http://www.freegasusa.org/
  • Repair Ideas and Help: http://voices.yahoo.com/free-auto-repair-assistance-available-9109103.html?cat=27 and http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/free_car_repairs.html
  • Medical Transportation for Women (including hotels): http://www.komenoregon.org/Programs_Grants/TransportationProgram.shtml

Prescriptions, Vision and Medical Assistance:

For help with prescription costs try these sites: http://www.themedicineprogram.com/  or http://www.needymeds.org/ and Oregon Prescription Assistance (There is no paperwork required and no age or income limit!): http://www.oregon.gov/oha/pharmacy/OPDP/Pages/index.aspx

*You can also go directly to your drug manufacturer website for help as many of them will pay or help pay for your medication. Another way to cut prescription costs is to ask your doctor for samples. They are often given a lot of samples to hand out and are quite happy to help you if you cannot afford what they prescribe.


Medical & Dental


  • Self Help for Hard of Hearing People is a national, non-profit organization helping people who are hard of hearing. Call 541-345-9432 or www.shhhor.orgfor more information.

Housing Help (rent and mortgage)

Utility Help

Phone Help

There are a few companies that will help pay your cell or landline bill. I wrote about this some time ago in an article about free phone help from the government. It has links in it and describes the plan. You can also go to these links to subscribe to these services and they pay around $15 of your phone plan each month. Lifeline: www.lifelinesupport.org / http://www.oregon.gov/puc/rspf/otapappnpf.pdf / https://apps.puc.state.or.us/rspf/otapapp.asp.


Reduced rates available for low-income families and nonprofits
$6-$9/month, depending on income.
no setup fee
Call 341-4928

Emergency Services (rent, utilities, cash, food and more)

Misc. Resources


  • Call 211 or go to 211Lane.org (http://www.ehow.com/how_2262379_help-food-clothing-etc-through.html) and they can help.
  • Bethel Clothing Closet: http://bethesdalutheranchurch.com/bethel-clothes-closet
  • The Relief Nursery: http://www.reliefnursery.org/virtual-tour/clothes%20closet.JPG/view
  • Crow Nazarene Clothes Closet: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crow-Nazarene-Clothes-Closet/109729949055464 or http://www.andersonnazarene.org/?i=14336&mid=1000&id=348165
  • Community Services: Like Salvation Army, Goodwill and St.Vincent DePaul’s, will give people voucher’s for clothing from their stores. Schools are also a great local resource.
  • The Helping Hands Room: Located in the First Christian Church at 1166 Oak Street in Eugene. You have to call for an appointment at 541-344-1425.
  • 1st Way Pregnancy Center: They offer free diapers, maternity and baby clothes, as well as free pregnancy testing and free ultrasounds to women who qualify. By appointment only. Located at 1667 High Street in Eugene. Hours are Monday -Thursday, 10am-4pm and 11am-2pm on Fridays. Call 541-687-8651 or 1-800-848-5683 or the web address is www.angelfire.com/or3/firstway/.
  • Assistance League:http://eugene.assistanceleague.org/ps.home.cfm?ID=2671

Tax Help

Haven’t filed taxes yet? Here are some places that will help you file and it’s free!

Child Care & More

Legal Help

A Little Bit of Everything

For a great list of places that help with a little bit of everything, check out these links:

If we can be of further help in researching or helping you find assistance in Lane county, please leave a comment and we’ll do our best to find what you’re looking for. Some links will contain more than just one type of assistance, so be sure to look at the ones that offer multiple resources if you don’t find what you are looking for.

A big thank you to Kim Carver for assembling this list.  –ed.

Kimberly has a degree in journalism and enjoys writing for a variety of different websites on topics such as current news, technology and the art of freelance writing online. She has her own blog that she enjoys working on at http://TheHighTechSociety.com, and also loves spending time with her husband and two grown children that also live in the Eugene area.

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