Emergency Assistance

Housing & utility assistance sign-up is held every Monday at 11:00 a.m.
Call (319) 351-0128 for more information

What We Do

The Emergency Assistance program uses funds provided by generous private donors, philanthropic organizations, the Catholic community's St. Anthony's Bread fund and the Consultation of Religious Communities to help Johnson County individuals and families maintain or obtain basic needs such as:

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Prescriptions
  • Identification
  • Work-related apparel

Limited funds are also available for people who become stranded in Johnson County due to unforeseen circumstances and need assistance to continue their travels.

Rules & Requirements

You can receive Emergency Assistance for housing and utilities up to two times per year. Once you have received assistance, you must wait 60 days to apply again.

The Emergency Assistance Program cannot help with phone bills, cable bills, insurance bills, taxes, or medical bills.

Because the Emergency Assistance program is funded by a variety of sources, there are a number of rules and requirements that must be met to receive assistance. Please read this section carefully.

Housing or Utilities

To be eligible for housing or utility assistance, you must have a past due bill and, if there is a threat of disconnection or eviction, you must be able to pay all but the last $100 on the bill.


To be eligible for prescription assistance, you must have applied for the Free Medical Clinic pharmacy program first. If the Free Medical Clinic cannot help you, the Emergency Assistance program can pay up to $25 per individual per year.


For help with personal identification, a driver’s license, or copy of a birth certificate, please call (319) 351-0128 on weekdays between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and ask to speak to a staff member for more information.

Work-related apparel

To be eligible for help purchasing work-related apparel - boots, no-slip shoes, etc. - you must have a dated letter from your employer stating that the items are required to begin working.

Go to the Iowa City Kmart location at 901 Hollywood Blvd. Choose appropriate apparel and take them to Kmart’s customer service desk to get a price invoice. Bring the invoice to The Crisis Center with your employer’s letter. You will receive a voucher to take back to Kmart as payment for the items.

This program is funded by the Iowa City Masonic Lodge No. 4.

How to Apply for Financial Assistance

If you need help to obtain identification, a license, birth certificate or minor car repair, please call (319) 351-0128 on weekdays between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and ask to speak to a staff member for more information and instructions.

If you need assistance with a prescription, you must bring a rejection note from the Free Medical Clinic along with the original or a copy of your prescription and its cost at your pharmacy. If you need work-related items, please follow the instructions in the Rules & Requirements section above.

To participate in the housing and utility assistance sign-up, plan to arrive at The Crisis Center Food Bank on Monday morning between 10:45 - 11:00 a.m. There is no advantage to arriving earlier and all participants must wait outside the building, regardless of weather conditions. If you have to work, have a conflict or are unable to travel to the Crisis Center, you can call (319) 351-0128 on Mondays between 9:00 am and 10:45 am to have your name submitted for the sign-up.

When the Food Bank has opened at 12:00 pm, the names of those who can be assisted are announced. You do not need to be present, but you must call by 2:00 pm to learn if you were chosen.

If you are selected, you will need to participate in a private interview, in person, at The Crisis Center. You will be asked to provide basic information about your family and sign a release form giving The Crisis Center permission to gather additional information from others, such as funders, landlords, utility companies and/or other human service agencies. The Crisis Center can help with the last $100 due, meaning if your overdue bill is more than $100, you will need to make payment arrangements or be able to cover the remaining amount. Crisis Center staff can also help by referring you to other agencies that may provide financial assistance.

What to Bring With You

If you need help with housing

Please bring the original or a copy of a past due notice/statement and your current lease or lender agreement. If you have contacted other human service agencies for assistance for the same bill, you need to bring paperwork to show this.

If you need help with a gas, electric or water utility bill

Bring the original or a copy of your past due statement. If you have contacted other human service agencies for assistance for the same bill, you need to bring paperwork to show this.