Housing and Essential Needs Referral Program

Are you homeless or about to become homeless?

A Local Coordinated Entry program can help you think about next steps.

What is HEN?

The Housing and Essential Needs Referral program provides access to essential needs items and potential rental assistance for low-income individuals who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental incapacity.

While DSHS/CSD determines eligibility for the referral to the HEN program, actual eligibility for rental assistance and essential needs items is determined by the Department of Commerce through a network of homeless and homeless prevention service providers.

HEN may include:

  • Limited rent and utility assistance.
  • Move-in costs.
  • Personal health and hygiene items.
  • Cleaning supplies.
  • Transportation assistance.

Please see a list of local HEN providers.

Who is eligible:

Individuals residing in Washington state who:

  • Are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical/mental incapacity.
  • Are at least 18 years old or, if under 18, legally emancipated or a member of a married couple.
  • Meet income and resource requirements.
  • Meet citizenship / alien status requirements.


Persons, who are not Federally Qualified for Modified Adjusted Gross Income medical programs may qualify for health care through the Medical Care Services program, when eligible for the ABD or HEN Referral programs. Please refer to the Apple Health (Medicaid) Manual for MCS program summary information.


You are not eligible for a referral to the HEN program if you:

  • Are eligible for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.
  • Do not pursue federal aid assistance (e.g. Medicaid) without good cause.
  • Do not participate in substance use disorder treatment (when required) without good cause.
  • Are eligible for SSI benefits or are an ineligible spouse of an SSI recipient.
  • Do not follow a Social Security Administration program rule or application requirement and SSA denied or terminated your benefits.

How to Apply For Cash Benefits:

You can apply for Cash Assistance online, by phone at 877-501-2233 or at your local Community Services Office.

The Application for Benefits is available in several languages.