What Is General Assistance?

General Assistance (GA) provides short-term help to Johnson County residents in extreme financial crisis. Financial assistance is available to address the following needs: rent, utilities, provisions, transportation, prescriptions, pet food and funeral expenses.

General Assistance Guidelines and Policy - PDF File

Federal Poverty Guidelines - PDF File

FY23 General Assistance Year-end Report - PDF File

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for General Assistance, a Johnson County resident must meet and comply with the following requirements:

A. Must be a resident of Johnson County.  

B. Must be at least 18 years of age, married or an emancipated minor.

C. Applicants who state they are unable to work due to a mental or physical illness may be required to provide written verification from a doctor or other professional medical personnel.  This verification must state the primary health condition, if the inability to work is temporary or permanent, and the approximate date (if applicable) the applicant may return to employment.

D. If not currently employed, applicant and all adult members in the household must be actively seeking employment sufficient to exceed the General Assistance Income Guidelines, by applying for a minimum of two jobs per week.

E. Applicants must apply for and follow through with all other assistance programs for which they may be eligible such as: Veterans Affairs (JCVA), Family Investment Program (FIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Housing Choice Voucher and all other state and federal rent and utility assistance programs, Iowa City Utility Discount Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and/or Unemployment. 

F. Applicants placed on a limited benefit plan (LBP) by the Department of Human Services will be deemed ineligible for assistance.

G. Applicants who are eligible for and/or have received maximum assistance benefits from Johnson County Veteran’s Affairs are not eligible for General Assistance. 

H. An applicant, or household member of an applicant, who has voluntarily terminated employment or is terminated for poor work attendance (without sufficient explanation) shall not be eligible for General Assistance for a period of three (3) months after the termination.  If the applicant or household member obtains a new ongoing job and provides verification of hire, eligibility may be considered. Consideration will be made for a person who is needed in the home to care for a dependent child or adult with special needs in exception circumstances.

I. An applicant, or household member of an applicant, who is registered in post high school training or education is not eligible for assistance.  This does not include applicants working towards their high school diploma, GED, HiSET, or engaged in unpaid vocational training provided through their employer, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, or a transitional support services program. 

Income Eligibility

A. The total net income of the household unit for the previous 30 days will be considered when determining eligibility.  Household income includes, but is not limited to; net income, child support, retirement and disability benefits, gifts, loans, and any cash assistance received from public and private entities.

B. Applicant household must have a net income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (updated annually by the US Department of Health and Human Services) for General Assistance.  

C. Lump sum payments received by a household up to (3) three months preceding the application for General Assistance, will be considered a resource.  A period of ineligibility, in months, shall be equal to the expenditure of the lump sum payment at 200% of the federal poverty level for the applicable household.


For applicants applying for assistance, all real and personal property of the household shall be considered in making the eligibility determination, except the following: 

            A.   Homestead

            B.   Household furniture and personal possessions

            C.   Tools and equipment used for home and family maintenance or support

            D.   Burial lots and funeral trust funds

            E.    Vehicles

Standards For Provision of Assistance

Total monthly assistance, excluding transportation assistance, for any one month period will not exceed:

$700  - 1 person household

$750  – 2 person household

$800  – 3 person household

$850  – 4 or more person household

With the exception of individuals enrolled in the Interim Assistance Reimbursement Program, no applicant may receive more than three months of assistance in a 12 month period. A new application is required for each month in which assistance is requested.


Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR) Program

The Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR) Program provides ongoing financial assistance for those applying for disability benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of the Social Security Administration. An eligible applicant may receive monthly assistance not to exceed the current General Assistance benefit per month for the duration of eligibility. The applicant must provide documentation from a medical professional that they are unable to work for twelve (12) months or longer. Applicant must have a household income at or below 100% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. Eligibility continues as long as the consumer is meeting program requirements and until they are approved for SSI or a determination is made at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) stage. If they are denied at the ALJ stage they are no longer eligible for the IAR Program. Upon approval of SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration will reimburse Johnson County the amount that the client received in benefits from the IAR program. The remainder of the SSI back pay will be provided directly to the client.


Burial and Cremation Assistance

Johnson County may assist with costs for basic funeral expenses not to exceed the amount established by the Board of Supervisors and set out in the General Assistance Guidelines.

Funeral service expenses for cremation – up to a maximum benefit of $2,200.  These expenses may include but are not limited to; funeral home services and memorial service, embalming, cremation, basic urn, transfer of deceased to funeral home, and preparation and filing of the death certificate.

Funeral service expenses for burial – up to a maximum benefit of $3,200. These expenses may include but are not limited to; funeral home services and memorial service, embalming, basic casket, grave liner, transfer of deceased to funeral home and cemetery, and preparation and filing of the death certificate.

In addition, GA may provide up to $1,000 for cemetery expenses including the opening and closing and purchase of a plot

The family will be financially responsible for any printed materials, clergy or music honorariums, flowers, limousines or family cars, death certificate, and luncheon or reception charges. The assistance is intended to cover the full cost of funeral home services associated with burial or cremation, as well as expenses related to the internment of remains. Payment for out-of-state funerals will not be provided. General Assistance will pay $250 for burial or cremation of those deceased persons deemed non-resident transients, as per Iowa Code 252.27. The deceased’s household income and available resources for the previous thirty (30) days must be at or below the 175% Federal Poverty Guidelines.


Applying For General Assistance ~ Contact Information

Office Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday

Phone: 319-356-6090
Email: [email protected]
Health & Human Services Building
855 S. Dubuque Street
Suite 202B
Iowa City, IA 52240


Photo of Sade Creach

Sade Creach
General Assistance Specialist
Email Sade Creach

Photo of Jessica Beck

Jessica Beck
General Assistance Specialist
Email Jessica Beck

Photo of Jon Trouten

Jon Trouten
General Assistance Specialist
Email Jon Trouten