There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help. Considering we have a global pandemic on our hands, as well as an economic downturn, the number of people who need help increases every day. The thing is that this economic downturn is very evident. We can feel its impact on our lives on a daily basis. One of the main effects of such an unstable economy is that everything gets more expensive, every day. Things such as housing, education, healthcare, and childcare are now out of financial reach for many Americans. And, it’s not like well-paying jobs are everywhere. While everything is increasing in price exponentially, the average salaries in different industries haven’t been keeping up at all.
With everything going on, it’s no wonder some people are looking for help left, right, and center. Things are tougher for the average American, but things are also a lot tougher for people who weren’t doing well financially, to begin with. While many folks will resort to borrowing from friends and family, or even private lenders, like banks, many people don’t have that privilege. The issue of low credit scores often gets in the way of developing financially.
The Government’s Got Your Back
Thankfully, there’s a long list of government-sponsored financial assistance programs. The government designed and created these programs to help those in need. If you take the time to look into such programs, you’ll find that a lot of them focus on low-income families and individuals. There is one thing you should look out for though. When it comes to federal financial assistance programs, you need to make sure you’re eligible. These assistance programs offer very tempting benefits, but they’re useless if you don’t qualify. We’ll discuss some of these programs and how to qualify for them. We’ll also give you a great resource for information on these programs, as well as eligibility details.
The Kinds Of Financial Assistance Programs Available For Americans
When the average person reads “financial assistance” they immediately think they’ll get free cash-outs. In some situations, that might be the case. However, these financial assistance programs are designed to help you afford certain things. Some of them might help you pay for rent. Others may help you pay for food and healthcare. But, the idea is that the government will help you with a specific issue through each program. You can’t really use financial assistance meant to help you pay for food, to buy a new car. So, we’ll explore various financial assistance programs. Each of these programs is meant to help with affording a primary expense in each person’s life.
Let’s Start With Financial Assistance For Housing Expenses
Housing in America can get pretty expensive. Considering that a lot of the well-paying jobs are located in big cities, it’s getting pretty unaffordable for many to actually live in those cities. With the popularity of those cities, it’s getting really difficult for low-income families to afford to live in them. That’s why the government created several housing assistance programs that even the odds a bit.
The federal government created this program to counteract the rising housing prices in the country. Although Section 8 Housing is not exactly about providing affordable housing, it helps make housing more affordable for eligible applicants. The gist of the program is that, if eligible, you can acquire a voucher from the government that will help you pay your rent.
The whole idea is to help out low-income Americans pay their rental fees so that they would have enough money to afford other stuff. By using Housing Choice Vouchers, eligible Americans should have enough money to pay for other necessities, such as education and healthcare.
Basically, eligible voucher holders should pay 30% of their income towards their rent. Then they can use the voucher to pay whatever is left. But, you also need to know that not any landlord will accept these vouchers as a form of payment. That’s why if you qualify, you’ll need to find a house whose rent you can pay using the vouchers.
Who’s Eligible For Section 8?
The US Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) created Section 8 to help low-income families. They also decided on certain criteria for those who qualify for the program. However, applicants don’t need to contact HUD to apply for Section 8. Instead, HUD delegated the operations of the program to local Public Housing Authorities (PHA). PHA offices are where you can get your most reliable information regarding Section 8. Americans wishing to apply for Section 8 will also start their application at their nearest PHA office. Finally, different PHAs may have different qualifying criteria for Section 8 applicants.
Here’s The List Of Qualifications Demanded By The Department Of Housing And Urban Development
- This is a housing project in America, so applicants need to be American citizens or qualifying immigrants. The residence status of an immigrant may impact their Section 8 application.
- Applicants need to be 18 years or above
- HUD is very particular about providing assistance to those who can maintain their housing under Section 8. So, having a drug-related criminal record, especially in the 3 years prior to your application may strongly influence HUD’s decision regarding granting you the voucher.
- Remember when we said that HUD created Section 8 for low-income folks? Well, HUD recognizes low-income families as families whose income is less than 50% of their local median. For example, the household income median in Wisconsin is $61,747. So, Section 8 applicants in Wisconsin should not have a household income of more than $30,873.5.
Now To Talk About Government Assistance For American Nutrition
Alright, so, food is not the most expensive thing Americans need to pay for. But, everyone needs to eat and bills pile up. No matter how little you pay for food per person, it costs a lot more when you need to feed a family. So, the government obviously needs to work on helping feed all Americans. It’s not an easy task, so there are also non-governmental organizations, like Feeding America trying to help with the task. So, among the many nutrition-related governmental assistance programs available, one is very popular.
You’ve probably heard of this program by its original name, Food Stamps. Those food stamps were used to pay at certain places to buy food. But, in 1990, paper food stamps were replaced with electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. It obviously took a while for paper stamps to be completely removed from circulation. In 2014, all stamps were replaced with electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.
These cards work the same way debit cards work. SNAP benefits are deposited on accounts linked to the cards. They will also track what the money is being spent on. Eligible cardholders can use the cards at EBT participating stores, ATMs, and point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
Eligibility For The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Depends On How Much You Make
This program obviously aims to help those who struggle to pay for their own food. Whether it’s an individual or a family, SNAP can be quite crucial for the low-income. That’s why the government decided to keep an applicant’s income as their own qualifying criteria.
To qualify for SNAP, you must make less than 130% of the federal poverty level. The government calculates the federal poverty line is calculated differently for differently-sized households. For the fiscal year of 2022, the poverty line for a household of 3 persons is $23,030. So, for a household of 3 to qualify for SNAP, they must make no more than $29,939 per year.
There are other factors that can influence the benefits you receive through SNAP. The government might also check on your household assets or resources, such as bank accounts. They might require each of those to be under a certain limit. It’s important you’d check with your state’s SNAP office. Here’s a directory that’ll help you find your state’s SNAP office.
There’s Also A Limited List Of Items You Can Use Your EBT To Buy
As the name suggests, you should only be using supplemental nutrition assistance to buy food you need, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables;
- Poultry, meat, and fish;
- Dairy products;
- Cereals and different types of bread;
- Other foods, like snack foods and nonalcoholic beverages;
- And plants and seeds that you can use to produce food.
On the other hand, you can not use your EBT cards to buy things not considered nutritionally important, such as:
- Alcohol and tobacco products like cigarettes;
- Medicines, vitamins, and supplements;
- Live animals;
- Non-Food grocery items, such as cleaning supplies and pets food;
- And hot meals.
And, you can use your EBT cards to purchase these foods at local grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets, and even some online delivery websites like Walmart and Amazon. To locate the nearest SNAP retailer to you, click here.
How To Apply For SNAP
You may apply for SNAP by mail or over the phone. During the pandemic, the government even allows people to apply for SNAP online. However, each state has a different application process and application form. So, it’s a good idea to contact your local SNAP office for the most accurate information.
It may take your local SNAP office up to 30 days to process your application. During that process, your local SNAP office might ask you to attend a simple interview. If you’re eligible, you may be receiving your benefits depending on the day you applied.
You may have another person apply on your behalf. That’s only in the case that you are unable to visit or contact your local SNAP office, or if you do not have internet access.
The Government Even Wants To Help You Get A Job And Get More Money
So, the government has a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF for short. Basically, the federal government gives grants to states, and then states use the grants to give people money and train them to get better-paying jobs. Besides handling the money, state governments will also control the qualifications required.
The main idea behind the program is to help low-income families with children achieve self-sufficiency. By “self-sufficiency” the government means that they want families to stop needing help from anyone else, including the government. The government basically summarizes its goals for TANF in the following points:
- Help children grow up in their own homes or in the homes of their relatives. To achieve that assistance is provided to needy families.
- Put an end to the parents’ reliance on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.
- Reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
- Push forward the development and stability of two-parent families
Here’s How You Can Apply For TANF
You’ll need to contact your social services office and/or your local TANF office to start the application process. Take the time to learn about the program and understand all its details before applying. To apply for TANF, you need to fill out an online application or a written one and send it by mail. After that, someone from the government will contact you to confirm all the information. Finally, someone from social services will want to interview you. You can have that interview in person (at home or at social services) or over the phone.
Eligibility Clauses For TANF
The government created TANF to help low-income families with children. So, firstly, anyone applying for TANF has to be 18 years or older. Second, applicants must have at least 1 child/dependent under the age of 18. There are some situations where the government will make exceptions, like in the case of a single parent, or a disabled child. Finally, the government will need most applicants to be actively working, or actively looking for jobs. The system is based on working hours and such. To understand a bit more about it, check out this link.