When life’s circumstances do not provide sufficient means for a person to purchase the necessities--healthy food, a safe shelter and adequate clothing--for him or his family, he may benefit from special programs designed to help the poor by dispensing free money. Most communities provide supplementary food for those in need, and in some cases, money may be available to assist the poor with specific purchases.
According to the 2007 United States Census Bureau Report, more than 37 million Americans live below the poverty level, and over 13 million of those are children. Between the ages of 25 and 75, more than half of all Americans will spend at least 1 year living below the national standards for poverty. Whether a person is temporarily down on his luck or a single mother is struggling to feed her family, they will benefit from monetary assistance.
The federal government is one of the largest sources of free money for those in need; one of the largest distributions of cash comes from the Earned Income Credit (EIC) program that is paid directly to low-income families. Need is determined by the amount of income and the family size that are claimed on the person’s income-tax return. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a free Taxpayer Advocate Service to help you fill out your tax forms. (See Resources.)
Those who cannot afford the cost of heating or cooling an apartment or home may qualify for monetary assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This federal program, a branch of the Administration for Children and Families, awards money toward the purchase of utilities for home use. Assistance is temporary, and the recipients must re-file if they need additional help. (See Resources.)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes the need for people to receive sufficient healthful food in order to survive. Money, in the form of food stamps, is awarded based upon family size and income. In addition, the USDA oversees the free school-lunch program and the distribution of food to the needy. (See Resources.)
Private and religious charities make up a large source of help for those in need. In addition to providing shelter to those without a roof over their heads, a community charity often provides money on a personal basis to pay initial rental fees in order for a person to move into an apartment. Find the locations of community centers that assist the poor by contacting a church or the police department in a specific community.