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Monroe County United Ministries provides basic needs assistance for Monroe County residents in crisis. Assistance may come in the form of food, clothing, household items, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, bus tickets, new socks and underwear, diapers, financial assistance to prevent utility shut-off or eviction, and referrals to other services.

This program provides basic needs assistance to families and individuals who are facing a short-term crisis such as a divorce, injury, a large health care bill, car repair, or caring for an ailing family member. These sudden crises can leave families unable to purchase food, clothing, basic supplies, or make their monthly housing and utility payments. Our program serves to make sure that these crises don’t have to leave families hungry, cold, or faced with utility shut-off or eviction.

An applicant seeking assistance will complete a simple form and visit with a caseworker to determine how the household's needs match MCUM's services. Clients are expected to participate in the solutions to their emergency situations and demonstrate progress if returning for additional services. No financial aid is given until all other resources are exhausted, including application to the township trustee.

The demand for basic needs assistance

Although there are state and federal programs to help low-income individuals, the restrictions and guidelines for these programs mean they are often not accessible by people in crisis. The 2012 federal poverty guidelines, which are used to determine eligibility for assistance programs, is $19,090 for a family of three and $23,050 for a family of four. However, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty and others, research clearly shows that an income of at least twice the federal poverty level is required to cover the average family’s most basic expenses. Check out NCCP’s Basic Needs Budget Calculator to explore what the basic needs expenses are for different sizes and types of families.

In Monroe County, demand for this type of service has increased greatly in recent years. In 2004, MCUM received 1,887 requests for assistance. In 2012, that number was 2,763. This program added a second caseworker position in 2007 to respond to that need. Changes were also made in how food was distributed. For years, the Emergency Food Pantry distributed a five-day supply of food (3 meals a day for each person in the household for 5 days) to households seeking assistance. A few years ago, the demand for food assistance had grown so significantly that the pantry had to reduce the amount of food given to each family or face running out of food. Today, the pantry distributes a three-day supply of food to those in need. This reduction has impacted our ability to assist people financially and nutritionally, but we are still able to fill a short-term need for food and prevent hunger in a crisis.

In 2012, the Emergency Services Program distributed enough food to make 37,557 meals and provided 10,225 items from our closet of cleaning supplies and hygiene items. This program also prevented homelessness for 61 households by providing rent or utility assistance to prevent evction or utility shutoff and provided Opportunity House vouchers to 232 households for clothing and necessary household items such as towels, plates, and pans. We couldn’t do this work without donations from individuals, congregations, workplaces, and organizations.

Are you seeking Help?

Assistance (except financial assistance) is available on a walk-in basis. Our office is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm. We are able to accept applications for assistance 8:00-11:15am and 1:00-3:15pm. On high-volume days, we may need to stop accepting applications earlier than usual to make sure we can see everyone before the office closes. Arriving at 8:00am or 1:00pm can help ensure we are able to see you.

Financial Assistance: MCUM can sometimes make up to a one-month payment on a rent, mortgage, or utility bill to prevent eviction or utility shut-off. Those seeking this type of assistance should first request assistance from their township trustee and then contact MCUM to make an appointment to see Cliff Edens, Emergency Services Coordinator. Call (812) 339-3429. This assistance is only available to those who will not be in the position of needing similar help the following month so some form of income or anticipated income is required. Clients should bring to their appointment a copy of the lease, mortgage bill or utility bill; proof of income; a bank statement, if available; the TA-1A form from the trustee, if available; and other related documentation. A limited number of appointments are available so clients who fail to appear for their appointments or fail to cancel cannot be provided financial assistance for 90 days.

Our Emergency Services Program is a client-driven program with a focus on case management. Those seeking assistance must complete a brief form and talk with a caseworker at each visit. Our clients choose when to seek assistance from our program and are expected to participate in the solutions to their emergency situations and demonstrate progress if returning for additional services.

We can provide: Clients in crisis can receive assistance:
a three-day supply of food for each person in the household Once in a 30-day period
Opportunity House voucher for clothing and basic household items Once in a 90-day period
rent, mortgage, utility assistance to prevent eviction or utility shut-off Once in a 12-month period
cleaning supplies, hygiene products, diapers, new socks/underclothes Once in a 90-day period, only twice in a twelve-month period

There are no specific income guidelines to receive assistance but clients must be residents of Monroe County. Clients may be deemed ineligible if the client provides misleading information, refuses program goals (primarily achieving self-sufficiency), has adequate resources to fill their needs, or if their need is not related to a sudden unforeseen crisis.

MCUM is located next to Tri-North Middle School and Mills Pool. We are located on the Route #2 West bus line. For more information about local buses, visit the Bloomington Transit site.

A program brochure (8.5x11, double sided) is available to print in English and in Spanish.

Those seeking assistance are encouraged to call 2-1-1 or search the 2-1-1 online database of resources for more information. The Hoosier Hills Food Bank also provides a list of food resources in Monroe and surrounding counties. The City of Bloomington provides links to resource guides that might be helpful to those seeking assistance.