Skip to Content

DSHS HEN Program: Breaking It Down in 3 Helpful Steps

DSHS HEN Program: Breaking It Down in 3 Helpful Steps

If you live in Washington State and you’re struggling to make ends meet, the DSHS HEN Program is there to lend a helping hand. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) offers a program for anyone on the lower-income spectrum who needs assistance. Called the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Referral Program, it is exclusively geared toward Washingtonians who’ve fallen on hard times.

Let’s dive into the DSHS HEN Program, what it entails, who’s eligible, and how to apply for benefits.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay; dshs hen program

What Is the DSHS HEN Program?

The DSHS HEN 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.”

As stated above, it’s only available for those who reside in Washington. The DSHS and Community Services & Development (CSD) will determine your eligibility for a referral to the HEN program. However, the Washington State Department of Commerce actually approves you for eligibility in terms of receiving the aforementioned essential needs items. This is done through a network of homeless service providers.

So, what exactly is included in the DSHS HEN Program? If you qualify, you may receive assistance for limited rent and utility costs, personal health and hygiene items, move-in costs, transportation aid, and cleaning supplies.

If you’re interested in applying, please click here for the full roster of local HEN providers.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay; dshs hen program

Who Is Eligible?

Eligibility for the DSHS HEN Program is determined by a number of factors. First and foremost, you must live in the state of Washington. And you must be unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental “incapacity.”

Additionally, you must be at least 18 years of age. If you’re under 18, you must either be legally emancipated or “part of a married couple.” You have to meet the income requirements set forth by the DSHS. Lastly, you have to meet citizenship requirements.

Who Isn’t Eligible?

Now, the DSHS for Washington explicitly states who isn’t eligible for the DSHS HEN Program. Here’s the list:

  • “Are eligible for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) 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; or
  • Do not follow a Social Security Administration (SSA) program rule or application requirement and SSA denied or terminated your benefits.”
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay; dshs hen program

How To Apply for Benefits

So, now you know what the DSHS HEN Program is and who’s eligible. How do you apply for benefits? You can apply for assistance online or make a pit stop at your local Community Services office.

In addition, you can find an application for benefits here. Besides English, the application is available in a wide array of languages. It’s six pages long and it bears the title “Application for Cash or Food Assistance.” Don’t let that fool you — it’s still part of the DSHS HEN Program.

If you’re in dire need of food assistance, it’s suggested that you fill out questions one through 14 and deposit the form at your local Community Services office as soon as possible. You’ll know within seven days if you’re eligible for food aid.

Thankfully, benefits for the DSHS HEN Program are issued the day after your eligibility is decided. You’ll need proof of earned income, other income which may include SSI benefits and child support, monthly expenses, any general/pertinent information, and an authorized representative. You’ll also have to list any annuities accrued by your household.

Now, the authorized rep is someone who confers with the Department of Social and Health Services on your behalf regarding your DSHS HEN Program benefits. However, this isn’t a requirement. You don’t have to name anyone to represent you.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel if you reside in Washington and you’re struggling. Go here to get started and apply for the DSHS HEN Program.

Save Money & Get Free Stuff!

Terri Jadin

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

The biggest problem is finding a place to rent that accepts HEN vouchers. And have to make 3 times what your rent will be. I have been homeless now for over a month and I have received absolutely no help whatsoever from any one at all. I wouod love to have assistance finding a place.


Saturday 28th of May 2022

Low Income Relief is an information service and does not provide cash or items directly. You will need to search our website for information about organizations that can help you meet those needs. Chat with Lira, she might be able to help!