Usually everyone goes through financial hardship at least once in their lives. If this is something you’re experiencing now, it’s important for you to know what to do and where to go. There are many opportunities out there from the federal government that can help you out. Because of this assistance, many people who qualify can focus on their health, safety, personal development, and more.
Federal Assistance Programs That Are Available
When looking at the different programs out there, there are many options to consider. The government is aware that people go through hard times. Popular programs that can help you include:
- Financial Relief Programs
- Food Support Programs
- Housing Aid Programs
Financial Relief Programs
With financial relief, you might not be aware that the federal government helps individuals and families by supplementing their income. Two common options to consider include:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The SSI program provides payments each month to those who qualify and have limited access to income and resources which would include people with disabilities and senior citizens. The program provides these payments to pay for basic needs like groceries, clothes, and shelter. Furthermore, how much you can benefit depends on your current housing situation and your taxable income. If you are staying in a state that boosts the SSI payment, you might get more money each month from the program. To qualify, you need to meet the following conditions:
- Be a minimum of 65 years old, be blind, or be disabled.
- Do not have much access to income and resources.
- Have a qualifying US citizenship or have legal residency in the United States.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is meant to support eligible households that have kids. The aim of this program is to assist households to reach independence. When state governments get TANF funding from the federal government, they have the right to manage their own version of the program. This means that each state will have its own version of eligibility, guidelines, and more. Furthermore, TANF focuses on supporting qualifying households in different ways such as through cash support, employment preparation, and so on.
Food Support Programs
There are many options to consider when it comes to those who need support with grocery costs. These options include:
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
CSFP focuses on improving the overall health of seniors (60 years or older) who have limited income. This program does this by supplementing their diet with healthy food. CSFP makes it possible for senior citizens to have both food and other basic needs.
CSFP is responsible for offering USDA foods and administrative funding to state governments and Indian Tribal Organizations that participate. These food packages from CSFP are created to offer necessary nutrients that people normally do not have in their meals. This would help prevent health concerns that seniors typically experience.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
This program supports childcare agencies to offer nutritious meals and snacks to the kids they take care of. There are more than 1 in 5 kids across the United States that are a part of a household that faces food insecurity. This is where CACFP comes in handy by improving the communities’ quality of care across America. Preschool kids in daycare facilities and in childcare homes are some of the people who can get benefits from the CACFP. These meals are free or come at a low price. The program also provides free food to homeless kids that are staying in emergency shelters as long as they qualify.
The CACFP “At-Risk” Afterschool Care Program also offers free snacks to kids from low-income households. Kids can get these snacks when they participate in after-school educational or fulfilling activities that are supervised. Furthermore, the organizations responsible for managing these after-school programs include schools, churches, parks, recreation departments, and more. However, these after-school programs need to be in local communities where a minimum of 50% of the kids are eligible for free or cheap meals.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is a popular food support program that the federal government offers low-income families and individuals. This program is also known as food stamps. SNAP works by offering recipients an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that is loaded with funds every month. Those who receive SNAP benefits can use the EBT card to buy groceries at supermarkets that accept this form of payment. Eligible groceries are:
- Chicken, fish, and meat
- Dairy products and cereal
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beverages that do not have alcohol
- Seeds and plants that can create food for the family to eat
However, recipients cannot buy the following goods with SNAP benefits:
- Beverages with alcohol like beer, wine, liquor, etc.
- Cigarettes and other types of products with tobacco
- Food that is hot during the selling process
- Animals that are alive (with exceptions)
- Supplements and medications
- Non-food goods
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) buys several nutritious, good-quality USDA Foods through TEFAP, making it accessible for state distributing bodies. This program works on helping seniors and those with limited income receive free emergency food support. The number of those unemployed and those who have incomes lower than the poverty line in the state determines the amount of food a state receives. After that, states are responsible for supplying these USDA foods to emergency food agencies. That includes food banks, pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens. Additionally, these states distribute free food to other kinds of local agencies, like community action agencies, that donate the food to the needy.
Housing Aid Programs
Individuals and families can have different types of housing support needs. If you have limited income, then you can apply for housing aid through several federal programs, including:
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
Section 8 is a great housing aid option that offers affordable rentals. This program offers rental properties in the private market for those who have limited income. Through housing vouchers, the recipient can choose where they want to stay, but the property needs to meet the conditions of the local public housing authority (PHA). Also, the landlord needs to allow these vouchers as a kind of payment, too! Typically, in order to qualify, your family’s income should be 50% or lower than your area’s median income.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) created the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to help decrease energy-related costs for low-income families. This program makes this happen by improving the homes’ energy efficiency level and offering protection to the families’ health and security.
Through DOE funds, the WAP offers weatherization services to about 35,000 households per year. Furthermore, a national study on WAP reports that the recipients save about $372 or more each year because of weatherization renovations.
The Bottom Line
One of the focuses of the federal government is to offer support to people who have limited income. That is why the federal government works on funding several assistance programs. If you’re having a difficult time, you might just find a federal assistance program to help you!
You need to remember that state governments are in charge of running these programs, even if the federal government funds them. That is why each state has its own version of guidelines and eligibility. If you want to find out more about your state’s version of a program, then you should contact your local agency. Furthermore, the local agency will depend on the program you are interested in!