Various programs are designed specifically to provide financial help to the poor. If you're a low-income household, many private and federal programs can help you meet basic needs. Assistance may be temporary or reoccurring, depending on your financial situation.
Programs throughout the nation strive to ensure people don't hungry. The United Way's 211 information and referral line can help connect you to food pantries and food banks in your area. The federal Women, Infants and Children program provides nutritious foods to low-income women and their children. The program also provides formula to infants. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers assistance to help purchase healthy foods. SNAP helps millions obtain food each year. Contact your local department of social services for information about federal programs available near you.
National charities help people in a financial emergency. If you're in danger of getting evicted or having your utilities disconnected, you can contact your local Catholic Charities or St. Vincent De Paul Society. Both offer assistance on a one-time basis to help you catch up on your rent or utilities. The federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program also awards low-income households cash each month. There are generally work requirements for able-bodied adult recipients. If you aren't working, you may need to participate in a work related-activity, such as job hunting, attending career workshops or volunteering.
The Salvation Army runs programs to help with energy costs. In some states, the Salvation Army partners with utility service providers to assist struggling households. For instance, Share the Warmth is a joint collaboration between Kansas Gas Service and the Salvation Army. In an emergency, the program helps pay heating costs, regardless of how the home is heated.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps keep people cool in the summer and warm in the winter. LIHEAP offers federal assistance to help with the costs of energy bills, such as electric, gas, wood and propane. The program also covers weatherization and minor repairs to make homes more energy-efficient.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps people without prescription assistance obtain the medication they need at little or no cost. The organization also administers free or low-cost healthcare clinics across the country. The federal health care program for low-income individuals and families is Medicaid. Each state runs its own Medicaid program, so eligibility guidelines and requirements may vary. States also have insurance programs specifically for low-income children who don't qualify for Medicaid. The Children's Health Insurance Program benefits also vary in each state, but typically include routine check ups, immunizations, prescriptions, dental and vision.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Policy Basics - An Introduction to TANF
- Feeding America Federal Hunger Relief Programs
- Kansas Gas Service: Assistance Agencies
- Nolo: Seeking Assistance for Your Medical Bills
- HealthCare.gov: Medicaid and CHIP Coverage
- Catholic Charities Brookyln and Queens: Homelessness Prevention
- Need Help Paying Bills: Saint Vincent de Paul Finance Assistance
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.