Help for Low-Income Families

by S. Herlihy ; Updated July 27, 2017

Making ends meet can be difficult even in flush economic circumstances. Unexpected expenses can arise that make paying for necessary items like food, clothing and shelter very hard. Fortunately, low-income families have places to turn if they are experiencing financial hardship.

Food Stamps

Food stamps are aid from the U.S. government designed to help people purchase necessary nutritional items. People qualify for food stamps if they meet certain income guidelines and citizenship requirements. Food-stamp allocation is more commonly known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Recipients are given a certain sum of money each month to spend on food; the sum varies according to family size. Users get a card that can be swiped at a supermarket checkout counter.

WIC

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is designed to make sure that nursing mothers and their small children have sufficient nutrition for proper development. Recipients are given vouchers to purchase food. They can pick out specific items such as peanut butter and eggs from a preapproved list. Those who do not qualify for food stamps may qualify for WIC.

EITC

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a program designed to aid low-income workers. People can qualify for a direct cash payment at tax time if they have worked a certain number of hours in the previous year. Applicants fill out a tax return and submit it to the federal government. The check that arrives several weeks later may be spent on whatever the recipient deems appropriate, or it may be put in a savings account. The amount of the EITC varies depending on family size and the hours a person has been employed.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federally administered program designed to guarantee access to medical care. Access is dependent on income earned. Medicaid may cover surgery, prescription drugs and well-baby visits. Those who use Medicaid may be limited in the number of doctors they can see and the prescriptions they can fill in a given time frame.

Housing Assistance

Families with incomes below a certain level may qualify for subsidized housing. They may be eligible to rent apartments at a reduced rate from private landlords. Low-income families may also be eligible for an apartment in public housing or even a house at reduced monthly rates. Consult with state and federal authorities for further information.