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2024 COLA Updates and More Essential News

2024 COLA Updates and More Essential News

Looking for essential updates that affect your wallet? From disappointingly low COLA increases to rising eviction rates, we’ve got the low-income news you can’t afford to miss! Keep reading to stay ahead and make informed choices.

Nationwide Low Income News

Every week, our team combs through the headlines to bring you all the low income news you need to know. We try to avoid covering the same topics multiple weeks in a row, so make sure you also check out our other recent updates so you don’t miss any help that is available to you!

2024 COLAs Announced

Every October, the government announces the COLA increases that will take effect at the start of the new year. This year’s announcement drew quite a bit of disappointment from critics who say that it doesn’t accurately reflect the cost of living.

The annual COLA increase for Social Security and VA benefits will be just 3.2% in 2024. That’s a drastic drop from the 8.75% increase that was offered at the start of 2023. AARP estimates that this will result in an average increase of $59 for Social Security retirees.

Medicare Assistance Available

Medicare open enrollment season starts this week and that means that scammers will be out in full force, trying to lure you into sacrificing valuable health benefits for cheap incentives. When you start seeing ads for flex cards and grocery cards, you need to be very skeptical.

It helps to have a nonpartial advocate help you navigate the different intricacies of each plan. Many senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging offer workshops, clinics, and walk-in consulting services to help you understand what each plan offers.

For example, in Georgia, Georgia State Health Insurance Assistance Program (Georgia SHIP) provides free information and help choosing health and drug care plans. They’ll help you understand your options and make sure you’re making the best choice. If you’re in Georgia, you can call them at (866) 522-4464 option 4 for help.

Please do not make any rash decisions about your health care coverage. The people who are advertising, calling you and harassing you have a financial incentive to get you to switch. That’s why it’s so important to consult with an impartial expert.

Sanders Targets Charity Care Hospitals

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to tighten the requirements on tax-exempt hospitals. He released a report showing that six of the biggest nonprofit hospital systems dedicated less than 1% of their total revenue to charity care in 2021. He wants to establish higher requirements to ensure that tax-exempt hospitals are doing more for their communities.

On the flipside, many health care associations have countered with their own data. For example, the American Hospital Association found that hospitals spend about 15% of their total expenses on community benefits.

It is not clear if anything will happen as the result of this information. In the meantime, if you need help paying for medical care at a hospital, be sure to ask about their financial assistance and charity care programs.

Evictions Continue to Soar

The Eviction Lab has found that 86,000 household were evicted in the last month. Across America, more than one million households have been evicted over the last year. According to a recent report by Moneywise, 2 in every 5 households that are evicted are children.

If you find yourself threatened with eviction, please contact legal aid right away. Many legal aid agencies prioritize eviction cases, so they may help with that even if they aren’t taking other cases. You can also check our Rent Relief database to find organizations that can help you pay your rent.

Don’t Miss Out on Upcoming Settlements!

Time is ticking, and there’s money to be claimed! If you’ve been affected by a faulty product or misleading advertisement, you might be eligible for a class-action settlement. Every week, we have new updates on which companies owe money to consumers like you.

Filing a claim is usually a quick and straightforward process. Don’t leave money on the table that could rightfully be yours. Stay tuned for the latest settlements and learn how you can claim your cash now!

SettlementDue
A&W Root Beer & Cream Soda – $5.50 value (estimated)
A&W wasn’t exactly honest when they said their products were “made with aged vanilla.” In fact, their products contained ethyl vanillin, an artificial flavoring. If you bought a cream soda or root beer product that said “made with aged vanilla” between Feb 7, 2016, and June 2, 2023, then you may be eligible for a check. No proof required.
Oct 18, 2023
The Standard Market – $750 value (estimated)
If you worked at The Standard Market in Illinois and they scanned your fingerprint between May 9, 2014 and February 22, 2020, you might be eligible for a substantial check!
Oct 18, 2023
Boston Globe Facebook Tracking – $20 value (estimated)
If you had a Facebook account, a Boston Globe subscription (digital or home delivery) and you visited their website between February 5, 2020 and May 25, 2023, then you may be able to claim this money.
Oct 23, 2023
Military.com Facebook Privacy – $30 value (estimated)
Military Advantage, the company that runs military.com, has been accused of disclosing personally identifiable information to Facebook via the tracking pixel. If you used the site between June 8, 2020, and Nov 1, 2022, then you may be eligible for a settlement.
Oct 24, 2023
WSE Property Management
If you rented a property that was managed by WSE Property Management between September 17, 2000 and November 30, 2023, then you may be eligible for this payout.
Oct 30, 2023
Cash Express – Data Breach
If you got a letter about a Cash Express data breach from January 29 to February 6, 2022, this settlement might include you.
Nov 1, 2023

TransUnion was recently ordered to pay millions for failing to ensure background checks were accurate for renters. Officials also claim that TransUnion lied to customers, claiming to place or remove security freezes when no action was actually taken.

Build a New Future with Skip Business Grants!

Want to kickstart your business dreams? You’re in the right place! Our amazing sponsor, Skip, is back with updated grant options to help you get your business off the ground or take it to the next level.

Skip specializes in identifying grant opportunities tailored to entrepreneurs. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand, Skip’s database is a treasure trove of financial resources. Don’t miss your chance to secure funding for your next big venture!

Open Entrepreneur Grants
StartHER Grant – $5,000
Whether you’ve got a business or want to start a business, this grant may be able to help you! They’re looking for 25 woman-owned businesses with five or fewer employees each. You must be located in the state of Texas and up to date on all taxes. Haven’t started yet? That’s not a problem! You can still apply. Applications are due by October 20.
Creceiendo Con TikTok – $5,000
This grant fund will provide FORTY (40) Latinx small business owners with a $5,000 grant! You must be a US-based, Latinx small business owner with a TikTok account in order to be eligible. Apply by October 23.
Small Business Growth Fund – up to $25,000
Got a small business in the United States? You could get up to $25,000 to help accelerate your growth. Apply by October 27.
October Skip Grants – $1,000
Every month, Skip gives away $1,000 to a US-based small business owner! To enter to win October’s grant, you need to apply by October 30.
Marketing Grant for Growth – $20,000
This in-kind grant offers $20,000 in services to help your business grow. In order to be eligible, you must have owned a business in the United States for at least two years, have a website and at least one social media account. Applications are due October 31.
“No” Grant – $2,000
This grant is open to US-based moms over age 18. Applications are due October 31, 2023.
Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program – $5,000
Every year, this organization selects 50 women to participate in a yearlong program to grow their businesses. Winners even get a trip to New York City! Apply by November 2.

Local Low Income News

This week, we have low income news updates for Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennslyvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC and Wisconsin.

If your state didn’t make the cut, don’t lose hope! Check out our other recent updates for what we’ve found in your area.

Arkansas

Arkansas Better Dads is an extension of the state’s TANF program. This program helps men become better fathers to their children by providing resources, coaching sessions, family events and activities. It is not clear if this program offers financial assistance.

You can get more information about the Arkansas Better Dads program on the state website.

California

If you attend a community college in California, you may be able to get one-time financial assistance grant of up to $5,000 to help you switch to an HBCU. These are Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This grant was created by the recently-signed Assembly Bill 1400.

Sonoma County has announced that their fund provided assistance to more than 1,700 people who were affected by the winter storms last year. The average payments were between $250 to $800. They have set aside nearly $1.19 million in funds for this year’s Immediate Needs Fund.

Pasadena has received a $5 million grant that will be used to build an affordable senior apartment complex near city hall. The plan will create 100 new apartments. There will be 44 studios, 55 one-bedrooms and one two-bedroom unit for the manager. It is expected to be completed in 2025.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events!

Connecticut

New low income housing is coming to New Haven! The new development will house fifty low income seniors. There will be 47 one-bedroom unit sand three two-bedrooms. All tenants will be over the age of 62 and earn no more than 60% of the Area Median Income. It is expected that this complex will be available sometime in 2025.

The Governor has announced that October 2023 is Disability Employment Awareness Month. As a result, the state has launched a number of events and services designed to support workers with disabilities.

Don’t miss these events!

Florida

St. Petersburg has enacted a new program that will give low income residents free access to the city’s public transportation. The changes will take effect November 1.

In Perry, a Career Resource Fair will be held on October 18 at Forest Capital Hall. It will run from 9am to 3pm, and is designed to help local workers recover from the recently-announced closure of the Georgia-Pacific Foley Cellulose Facility.

Georgia

A Georgia senator has started an investigation into Section 8 abuse in Georgia. This was provoked by a report from Channel 2 Action News, which described how some HUD-funded properties in Atlanta were not being maintained.

Forest Grove is one of these. It was condemned and the tenants were relocated by the city due to the severe and dangerous conditions.

Some of the issues that were highlighted include rat and roach infestations, lack of basic plumbing or working toilets, rotting floors that collapse, mold problems, and rampant crime and violence.

Senator Jon Ossoff has launched an investigation to find out how much money was spent on these properties, what HUD knew about the situation and what the government plans to do about it.

Meanwhile, The Housing Choice Voucher Program will begin accepting applications on October 17. You will only be able to apply until October 20, so you’ll need to act fast!

Illinois

North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) is warning customers that they will not get as much energy assistance this year. The NECAC program is dropping to pre-pandemic assistance levels. This will impact customers in their service area throughout Illinois and Iowa.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events!

  • Oct 17: Senior Citizen Resource Fair in Chicago Heights
  • Nov 2: Crisis LIHEAP open
  • Dec 1: LIHEAP open for everyone

Iowa

North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) is warning customers that they will not get as much energy assistance this year. The NECAC program is dropping to pre-pandemic assistance levels. This will impact customers in their service area throughout Illinois and Iowa.

Kansas

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

  • Oct 26: Senior Resource Fair in Topeka

Maine

Maine’s Governor Mills is working on building more housing to fix the housing shortage. Among other things, the administration has:

  • Created a state-level Affordable Housing Tax Credit to encourage more construction
  • Created an Affordable Homeownership Program & Rural Affordable Rental Housing Programs to help provide housing in rural Maine
  • Changed the law to allow accessory dwelling units (small second homes on a property that already has a house)
  • a Housing First model for people who experience chronic homelessness

The Governor’s announcement also suggested that the state may start renovating existing buildings into affordable housing too.

Meanwhile, the Good Shepherd Food Bank has met its goal of delivering mor ethan 30 million meals. It hit this benchmark two years earlier than expected!

Maryland

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

Massachusetts

Some of the effects of Governor Healey’s recent tax cut bill are taking effect. For example, MassINC has reported that the tax bill will have these effects in the Gateway Cities:

  • The Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit will double to $2,400. This helps low income seniors who are struggling with high rent or property taxes.
  • The Rental Deduction increased to $4,000.
  • The Child and Dependent Tax Credit will increase to $310 in 2023 and $440 in 2024.

These breaks will help low income people save more money on their taxes and hopefully get more money back, too.

Meanwhile, in Brighton, 2Life Communities recently received more than $7.6 million in funding to build affordable multifamily housing. They plan to use this money to build 127 new affordable apartments for seniors.

Michigan

There are 2,443 homeless veterans in Michigan, according to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agencies. Many of these people have families that are also homeless. If you need help, please contact the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for assistance.

Mississippi

The Mississippi Attorney General‘s office has created a new website that helps pregnant women and mothers connect with benefits and resources. This was created as a result of the new Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance program.

The website can help you find free pregnancy testing, enroll in health care, get food assistance, find help with necessary childcare items like car seats and cribs, and more.

You can find the new site at mama.ms.gov.

Missouri

St. Louis is opening a new program that will provide low income families with $500 per month for 18 months. The city expects this program to help 540 families.

In order to be eligible, you must meet these requirements:

  • You need to have at least one child who attends St. Louis public schools, including its charter schools.
  • You must have an income that is 170% or less of the Federal Poverty Level.

They’re going to let everyone submit a preliminary application between October 23rd and November 1st. They will use a random lottery to choose winners, who will be notified starting November 6th. If you are selected, you need to submit your financial information and verification right away because the winners from that round will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can request to be notified when the applications are live by following the prompts on the city’s website.

New Jersey

Fresh Match is a new program that is designed to help low income people get more fresh food. This program is being launched by Hackensack Meridian Health, which has received a $3 million grant from the state of New Jersey to implement this program.

When it launches, this program will provide a dollar-for-dollar match on your EBT purchases. If you spend up to $10 then you will get an additional $10 for fresh produce on your next visit. This is something that already exists in many other states. If you’re interested, check our Double Up EBT series for details.

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

New Mexico

Don’t miss these events!

  • Oct 20: Grandparents and Kin Raising Children Resource Fair in Peñasco (raffles, gift cards and refreshments provided)

New York

A new senior housing complex has opened in Jerome Park, The Bronx. They have 188 apartments for low income seniors who earn 50% or less of the Area Median Income. Residents will receive a complimentary membership to the nearby New York Botanical Garden too!

The lottery for this complex has already ended. However, this highlights an important problem. The reason I talk so much about properties that have been announced is because the tenants are often selected before those properties open. It’s important to keep tabs on any new construction in your area so you don’t miss the chance to apply!

North Carolina

The Septic Repair Assistance Program is available for eligible homeowners in Buncombe County! In order to be eligible, you must own and occupy your home. You must also have an income that is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. That’s about $64,250 for a family of four.

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

  • Dec 1: expected Medicaid expansion date

Ohio

The Tri-County Community Curbside Connection Project Van has finally made its debut! This van will deliver fresh market produce to seniors in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull Counties. Contact MYCAP for details.

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

Oklahoma

Don’t miss these upcoming deadlines!

  • Oct 27: Deadline to apply for veteran homeowners in Tulsa to apply for Revitalize T-Town‘s home repair program

Oregon

Oregon taxpayers will get a record-breaking kicker payment on next year’s tax returns! The state is enjoying a $5.61 billion revenue surplus, and some of that money will be given back to taxpayers on their next tax return. If you haven’t already filed a 2022 tax return, you need to do that as soon as possible to make sure you’re eligible for this credit. To find out how much you’re eligible for, use the What’s My Kicker? tool on the Oregon government website.

Meanwhile, Oregon is experimenting with a pilot project that uses Medicaid funds to provide housing and rent for people at risk of homelessness. The state hopes that using the funds this way will reduce medical crises among those most at risk.

For example, Ben Norris used to live on the street. He developed severe diabetes and didn’t even know. When he ended up in the emergency room, he lost both of his feet to gangrene.

He’s taking part in the Medicaid pilot program. Now that he lives in an apartment, he’s able to keep track of his medication and wheel himself down to a wound care facility down the street. The wound care facility is taking care of his recent amputations. Overall, this setup costs the state a lot less than if Norris was still living on the street and receiving care in the emergency room – and it’s a lot safer for Norris, too.

Pennsylvania

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has partnered with DoorDash to offer the Doorstep Delivery Program. This program helps bring food to homebound seniors who can’t get it themselves. The delivery service is free to those who receive the deliveries.

Don’t miss out on these upcoming events!

  • Oct 15: Aging Gracefully Resource Fair in Cabot
  • Oct 19: October Vietnam Veteran Coffee and Comraderie in Palmerton
  • Nov 1: Deadline to register for the Veterans Day Dinner and Resource Fair in Penn’s Peak on Nov 10 (free for veterans and one guest)

South Carolina

Sumter is getting a new food bank and financial literacy center! Services of Hope plans to offer an in-house food pantry, mobile food pantry, and first-time homebuyer class that can help connect buyers with down payment assistance grants. The program opens today!

Tennessee

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

Texas

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

  • Oct 20: Trunk or treat at Hogan Park in Midland
  • Oct 20: Trunk or Treat at Cavazos Elementary in Odessa
  • Oct 21: Trunk or Treat carnival at Central Fire Station in Odessa
  • Oct 21: Share-O-Ween Sensory Spooktacular Trunk or Treat in Midland
  • Oct 26: Free all-ages Halloweenfest at MLK Jr. Community Center in Midland
  • Oct 28: Trunk or Treat at Mission Square Plaza in Midland

Utah

Kamas has a new WIC branch! This location can help low income families connect with the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, which provides special food benefits to pregnant women and children under the age of 5.

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

  • Oct 17: Willow Creek Park playground ribbon-cutting ceremony (free cocoa and cookies provided)

Virginia

Park View Community Mission has a Food for Families program. Residents of the 24501 zip code can shop for free if they need food. The pantry offers shelf-stable goods, as well as fresh produce, meats and dairy.

This organization also offers other food services, such as a Park View Cafe on Wednesday and a program that provides weekend food for students.

Washington

King County has reported that elder abuse cases have tripled in the last decade. If you suspect your or someone else is being abused, you can report it to the Adult Protective Services hotline at (877) 734-6277.

Don’t miss these upcoming events!

Washington DC

The headquarters for Legal Services Corp will be moving from Georgetown to International Square, per an announcement in Bizjournals.

Wisconsin

Utility providers in Wisconsin are encouraging customers to apply for financial assistance before the winter moratorium begins in November. That’s because many of these funds are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you wait until the moratorium ends in April, you may not be able to get the financial help you need.

Don’t forget these upcoming deadlines!

  • Nov 1: Winter Moratorium for utilities begins

Summary

From the annual COLA increases to this month’s free Trunk or Treat events, the Low Income Relief weekly roundup has all the low income news you need to know. Our team scours the headlines every week to help you find all the help you need, from help with rent and utilities to free family fun!

Nicole is the founder and lead researcher of Low Income Relief. After a personal experience with poverty and homelessness following her husband's sudden medical discharge from the U.S. Army, Nicole discovered the life-changing impact of community resources. This experience ignited her passion for empowering others to navigate similar crises. Nicole launched her writing career at age 16, working for various newspapers and publications. Her commitment to in-depth research and accessible content has been recognized by Google for Publishers and other industry leaders. For over 20 years, she has applied her investigative skills to uncover the most helpful, up-to-date information on benefits programs and community resources, ensuring Low Income Relief maintains the most extensive resource databases available.

Bobbi Evans

Sunday 15th of October 2023

And we send Billions of $$$ to support other countries when we should be supporting our own.