In this week’s low income news update, we’ve got big news from around the country. For the first time ever, we also have updates for every single US state as well!
Nationwide Low Income News
A new study found that 36% of American families are skipping meals to save money. We understand that things are hard. You need help and hope more than ever! So let’s talk about all the new ways we’ve found that you can get help.
Get Help with Summer Utilities
In the meantime, low income people are struggling to pay their higher energy bills during the summer. The AP shared the story of Bobbie Boyd in Arkansas, who receives just $882 per month in Social Security. Her electric bill has been $240. Between the rent and the electric bill, Bobbie doesn’t have much left over. She eats just one meal a day so her grandson can eat two meals.
Get Free Food for Your Kids
If you live in an area where school has not yet started, you may be able to get free summer meals in your community. You can text the word FOOD to 304-304 to find a meal site near you.
If you do live in an area where school has already started, make sure you apply for the National School Lunch Program. Your child may be eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Many schools also offer backpack snack programs that send extra food home over the weekends and school breaks, so be sure to ask about that too.
Get Help with Credit Card Debt
For the first time on record, total credit card debt has exceeded $1,000,000,000,000. That’s $1 trillion!
If you need help with credit card debt, please don’t forget to reach out to our sponsor’s Debt Relief Helpline at 866-530-9949. This helpline is staffed with experts who can help you negotiate reduced payments, reduce your interest charges, or even reduce the principal amount you owe. They can also stop your collectors from harassing you over the phone.
Got Health Problems? Get a Grant!
Over the last week or so, I’ve been researching ways that you can get grants if you have health problems.
For example, I recently discovered that The PAN Foundation offers grants of up to $20,000 for people who have been diagnosed with specific medical problems! Their grants cover common conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and rare conditions like Cushing’s Syndrome. It’s incredible! You can get the list here.
If you have breast cancer, we’ve found a ton of grants that can help you as well. In fact, we’ve found over $10,000 in grants for breast cancer patients! Here’s the list.
Get a Business Grant (up to $100,000!)
If you are a business owner or are interested in starting your own business, we’ve found resources that can help! Our partner, Skip, has an incredible directory of grants that can help you get started or take your business to the next level.
Here are some grants with upcoming due dates:
- The Startup Collective by Aveeno is offering up to $100,000 for Black female-identifying entrepreneurs who have a product that serves the skin or hair care needs of Black customers. Applications are due August 13.
- Siente Juntos Fund is offering up to $50,000 for Latina-owned food establishments. Applications are due August 15.
- The Cook County 2023 Source Grant is offering up to $20,000 for businesses in Cook County, Illinois, that existed prior to 2020. Applications are due August 18.
- Pepper Startup Grant for Black Women offers $5,000 for Black women who are in an early business stage. Applications are due August 23.
- August Skip Grants offer $1,000 for small business owners in the United States. Applications are due August 28.
- Bold Beginnings offers up to $25,000 for women under age 30 with a big business idea. Applications are due August 31.
Don’t forget to sign up for your free Skip account so that you can apply for these grants!
57% of Hospitals Cheating the 340B Program
A bombshell report from The Connecticut Examiner found that hospitals and health care facilities are manipulating a low income program to pad their own pockets.
The 340B Prescription Drug Discount Program is supposed to help low income and uninsured Americans get cheaper medications. It works by allowing hospitals and certain medical facilities to purchase prescriptions at a steep discount. That savings is supposed to be passed onto the patient, allowing them to get medications.
That’s not happening, at least not as often as it should.
In fact, the majority (57%) of hospitals reported that they did not provide any discounts to low income or uninsured patients who filled prescriptions at their contract pharmacy. Instead, the hospitals used their discount to buy cheap meds and then sold them at full-price to the patients who needed them. The hospitals pocketed a lot of profit this way.
Only one-third of the hospitals interviewed by the Office of the Inspector General offered the 340B discounted price to uninsured patients.
This is important to understand because the 340B program is the second largest prescription drug program in the United States. It’s also been the subject of a lot of debate lately. Some people want to keep it, others want to get rid of it.
Proposed SNAP Rule Changes
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP or food stamps) is governed by the rules set forth in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill has to be renewed every five years.
Although the current Farm Bill expires on September 30, some Congressional lawmakers have said that the new Farm Bill won’t be ready until 2024.
In the meantime, lawmakers are introducing a flood of marker bills. Marker bills are small bills that often get bundled into a larger bill. In this case, lawmakers are hoping these marker bills will become part of the Farm Bill.
One new proposal came from Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. This proposal is called the Food Secure Strikers Act of 2023, and it intends to make striking workers eligible for food benefits. Under current rules, striking workers cannot get food assistance unless they were eligible before the strike started.
Another proposal by Representative Jim Costa seeks to create a dairy nutrition incentive program. According to the Dairy Reporter, this bill intends to expand the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives program to also cover other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.
Local Low Income News
For the first time in the history of our low income news updates, we have an update for every single state. Every single one!
Governor Ivey is advocating for a universal school choice policy. If enacted, this would expand Alabama’s current program to all K-12 students in the state. This issue is expected to be decided in the next legislative session.
A new study has also found that Alabama drivers are more likely to be ticketed for procedural or administrative violations than safety concerns. The study found that 42% of speeders were let go with a warning but only 9% of people caught driving without insurance were given a warning. The rest were ticketed. Advocates are concerned because this practice often traps low income drivers in a spiral of fees and debts that make it even harder for low income people to afford necessities, like car insurance.
In Anchorage, more hotels are being converted into affordable housing units. The Anchorage Affordable Housing and Land Trust (AAHLT) intends to convert The Lake House into a 45-unit apartment complex for low income people.
A community laundromat chain called Social Spin hosts free laundry events and free services every week. The founder of this organization is Christy Moore, a former social worker. She brings in social service providers who provide free hair cuts, healthcare checks, and other services.
Social Spin has locations in Phoenix and Arizona.
Excellerate Housing has created an affordable housing subsidiary that is expected to develop more affordable housing in Northwest Arkansas.
In Imperial Beach, California American Water is launching a Multi-Family Assistance Pilot Program (MAPP). This program will provide financial assistance to people who live in apartments, condos, and mobile home parks. Typically, people who live in these situations aren’t eligible for assistance because they pay their landlord, complex, or property owner for the utilities that are billed to a master meter. If you meet the requirements for this program, you can receive a check of $45.48 to offset the increase in your rent due to water consumption. The company hopes to send these checks once every three months.
Colorado’s new Universal Preschool program has hit a roadblock.
Although the program was supposed to launch in just a few weeks, the state recently discovered that it does not have enough funding to cover everyone who initially qualified. Families have been receiving emails from the state, saying that their children may not be able to get the full time care they were promised.
The law states that if there isn’t enough funding, priority will be given to low income households who have at least one additional qualifying factor.
Homelessness has risen about 3%, according to the CT Coalition to End Homelessness. At the same time, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2023 Out of Reach study found that someone who earns minimum wage in Connecticut would have to work 85 hours a week in order to afford rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
Meanwhile, there are programs throughout the state that can help low income residents.
First, the state plans to expand the school meals program for the upcoming school year. The changes remove the family portion of the cost, meaning that children who are eligible for reduced-price meals will receive free meals this year.
Second, Vision to Learn has provided more than 9,000 low income children with free eye care. Over 2,800 glasses have been distributed for free. The Hartford Public Library has hosted eye exam appointments throughout the summer and many local organizations have partnered with the charity as well. Contact one of them or the organization itself for help.
Habitat for Humanity is working on making it easier for seniors to stay in their homes as they age! Their new statewide program called “older Adult Homes Modification Program” provides essential home repairs and home modifications for seniors. In order to be eligible, you need to be at least 62 years old and meet income limits. Contact your local Habitat for Humanity for assistance.
If you have diabetes in Delaware, you could be eligible for $500 per year from the Delaware Emergency Medical Diabetes Fund! This program can pay for your medications, services or supplies.
In West Palm Beach, a new apartment complex called Flagler Station recently opened. The eight-story complex has 94 units available. Rent ranges from $393 to $1,689 per month. On-site amenities include a clubroom, computer center, rooftop pool, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The apartments are reserved for those who make no more than 80% of the Area Median Income.
In Columbus, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Utility Assistance Program has launched. This program will provide help with utility costs for low income households in the area.
In order to be eligible, you must have a household income that is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. Applications for this program will open on August 14 at 8am.
Representative Jill Tokuda from Hawaii introduced another act called the Feeding Rural Families Act of 2023. This proposal would adjust the Department of Agriculture’s Thrifty Food Plan amounts for Hawaii.
According to Takuda, the current TFP is based on data from Honolulu and does not account for higher food costs on other islands. Since Alaska has different calculations for urban, rural and remote areas, Takuda wants Hawaii to also have different calculations for Honolulu and the more remote islands.
The state of Idaho has almost finished removing the flagged accounts from Medicaid.
During the pandemic, the state continued processing renewals even though it didn’t have to do that. Because they weren’t allowed to remove people who were no longer eligible, the state simply flagged their account for future removal.
There were 153,000 flagged accounts. Some were flagged because they didn’t qualify, others were flagged because they didn’t respond to paperwork requests. About 50,000 people were removed because they did not reply to the state’s requests.
If you have lost your Medicaid coverage and you are still eligible, you should reapply. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and always respond to the state.
Governor Pritzker has announced the reopening of a homeownership assistance program called Opening Doors. This program provides up to $6,000 in forgivable down payment assistance for low income households. If you work with a participating lender, they can help you apply.
Tri-Cap, also known as the Dubois-Pike-Warrick Economic Opportunity Committee, released their 2023 Community Needs Assessment. The report found that people need assistance with legal services, housing, good jobs, nutrition, and budgeting. The results of this report are expected to influence the organization’s programs and goals over the next few years.
Iowa Legal Aid will be hosting a free legal assistance event for seniors and caregivers. The event will take place on August 29 at 11am. It will be hosted at the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library in Lansing.
More than half of the rural hospitals in Kansas are currently at risk of closing, according to a new report by local news provider KWCH. The Governor confirmed that the issue is now at a crisis level.
According to the Governor, the solution is simple: the state needs to expand Medicaid coverage. She has tried to expand Medicaid five times but the proposal has failed every time.
Expanding Medicaid wouldn’t just help the people. It would also help the hospitals be reimbursed for coverage, since a lot of hospitals lose money on unpaid medical bills.
The Paducah Day Nursery is a daycare that supports low income families. They even offer transportation to and from the facility! This organization offers classes and programs for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years old. You can contact them by calling 270-442-5437.
A recent report discovered that having bad credit affects car insurance costs more than having a DUI in Louisiana. Drivers with bad credit and a clean driving record paid $905 more per year than drivers with excellent credit and a DUI.
Maine is currently home to more than 200 homeless veterans. However, a coalition in the state has announced that they hope to house all of those veterans by June 2025.
Preble Street, the organization behind the effort, is offering landlords incentives to sign leases with homeless veterans. They are also offering a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund that will reimburse a landlord for up to $1,500 in damages and unpaid rent. Interested landlords are encouraged to reach out to Preble Street to apply.
Three hotels near the University of Maryland have been purchased by a developer who intends to tear them down and build affordable housing instead. The new complex will include 317 affordable apartments.
The Days Inn, Howard Johnson and Red Roof Inn hotels will be demolished to make room for this new complex.
Massachusetts has become the 8th state to offer universal school meals! This new permanent program makes school meals free to all children in the state.
Senate President Karen Spilka said that this change will save families about $1,200 per student per year.
GoodPluck is a startup that brings fresh produce to neighborhoods in Detroit that don’t have a lot of access to fresh produce. The majority of the food is grown by local farmers. The food is delivered by an electric vehicle called the Veggie Express. Get more info from Detroit News.
Minnesota’s new tax changes are expected to make a big difference for low income families.
The state expects that child poverty will be reduced by a third thanks to their new permanent child tax credit. This new law will provide annual credits worth up to $1,750 for each qualifying child. This amount of the credit tapers off as income increases. The state currently plans to issue those credits annually, but the Revenue Department has been tasked with figuring out if the state can send monthly or quarterly checks instead.
There will also be a one-time tax rebate of $260 per filer as long as your household income is under $75,000 for an individual or $150,000 for a couple. If you have dependents, you’ll receive an additional $260 per dependent. There is a household maximum of $1,300. These payments are expected to be sent in the fall.
The state will also remove the income tax on Social Security benefits for low income seniors.
The Mississippi Supreme Court is working on a case offer misspent welfare money. As I discussed in a recent YouTube video, the state completely mishandled millions of dollars of TANF funds. The money was spent on outrageous things like a $5 million volleyball arena at a university, a $1.7 million investment in concussion treatments, and $1.1 million to NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre for speeches that were never given.
This week, the Mississippi Supreme Court refused to release Brett Favre as a defendant in the lawsuit. His attorneys claim that he should be released because he repaid the $1.1 million for the speeches. However, the state argues that he should also repay the $1.7 million that his company received and the $5 million that was spent on a volleyball arena at his university.
Columbia has a Homeownership Assistance Program that can provide up to $10,000 in down payment assistance for first time homebuyers. This assistance is paid as a forgivable loan with 0% interest. If you meet the program requirements, the loan can be forgiven and you won’t have to pay it back. Get the details on the city website.
New affordable housing is coming to Great Falls! There are two new developments underway that should be ready by May 2024.
Nebraska is experiencing a dental crisis. Some rural residents have to travel more than 200 miles to reach a dentist that will accept Medicaid. This is causing significant problems for low income residents of this state.
In Las Vegas, a new health clinic is opening to help low income and homeless patients. The Health & Wellness Center occupies 8,532 square feet on Main Street. It includes a pharmacy and a lab, as well as regular exam rooms.
In New Hampshire, builders who are attempting to construct affordable housing are running into an unexpected problem. They are unable to acquire critical electrical components. The Carriage Towne News reports that builders have to wait between 12-18 months for delivery of critical switchgear.
This problem is holding up the progress of several developments and creating increased costs for affordable housing providers.
New Jersey is trying to raise awareness of NJ FamilyCare. This program provides primary care, dental, vision, and mental health coverage to children.
The income limits are very generous. Families can earn up to 355% of the Federal Poverty Level (that’s $8,875 per month for a family of four) and still qualify for this. However, many children who are eligible are not enrolled.
You can apply online.
PNM has options for people who are struggling to pay their utilities. The company recently extended the disconnect period from two weeks to up to three months, depending on household circumstances. They also have additional financial assistance programs that may be able to help you pay your bill.
If you need help, contact PNM for options.
New York’s Source of Income Antidiscrimination Statute was deemed unconstitutional this week. Judges found that forcing landlords to participate in Section 8 subjected them to warrantless searches of their records and properties, which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
If you live anywhere in New York and you’ve been the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for financial help and other support from the New York State Office of Victim Services. This office works with 239 different community-based programs that can help you find financial assistance, safety, and more.
If you live in one of the eight counties impacted by recent flooding, you may be eligible for financial assistance. The state is offering up to $50,000 in emergency financial assistance grants to help homeowners who suffered property damage.
The eligible counties include:
In order to be eligible, you must be a low income property owner in one of those counties. Low income is defined as having an income that is 80% of the Area Median Income or less. If you are eligible, you can apply online at the HRC website.
There are new affordable housing units available in Fayetteville! The Landing at Beaver Creek recently opened with 72 new apartments. There are 1-3 bedroom units available.
We’ve also found several grants for breast cancer patients in North Carolina. If you’re in active treatment, here’s what you need to know.
In Fargo, some new affordable housing options are coming to the area. A new 42-unit building will be placed in the downtown area for low income seniors who are at least 62 years old. Another 110-unit development will be built along the riverfront for low income individuals and families.
Both locations include rooftop patios, community rooms, exercise rooms and other amenities.
The Ohio Justice Bus is a free mobile legal aid clinic for low income residents. It will be available at the Mott Branch Library on August 15 from 10am to 12pm. At this event, you can talk to an attorney for free about any civil legal matters or family law issues that you are dealing with.
The bus will be at the West Toledo Branch Library on November 14 between 10am and 12pm. That event will be focused on consumer law and civil legal matters like debt or bankruptcy.
If you attend either of these events, please make sure that you arrive early and bring any documentation that is relevant to your situation.
Oklahoma’s attempt at increasing eligibility for free school meals failed, so those changes will not take effect this year. However, the school meal program that already existed will continue.
Starting Monday, workers can apply for benefits under the new Paid Leave Oregon program. This program allows workers to take paid leave for specific qualifying reasons, such as serious health conditions, having a child, or having a family emergency that involves assault, domestic violence, or stalking.
The first day that people can take paid leave under this program will be September 3, but it may take a few weeks for the state to process applications and issue benefits.
Children and family members of certain eligible veterans may be able to get financial assistance to help them pursue a higher education. The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers an Educational Gratuity Program that can provide up to $500 per term or semester! Get the details.
Rhode Island has decided to discontinue their pilot program that offered free bus service on their major routes. The discounts caused cost overruns and a budget shortfall, so the program could not be continued. It ends in September.
If you use WIC in South Carolina, you now have two options for electronic payment at the farmer’s market! The FMNP program has shifted from paper vouchers to more updated methods. You can use the SoliMarket Mobile App or the SoliMarket Shopper Card to make your FMNP purchases.
Low income students can get tuition and fee assistance at four technical colleges in the state! If you’re interested, Western Dakota Technical College is currently enrolling students. Their classes begin on August 21.
In Montgomery County, lawmakers are considering raising the income limits for the Property Tax Freeze Act! This act freezes property taxes for eligible seniors, ensuring that their property taxes won’t continue to rise in the future. The current income limits for this program are $42,890 per year but the new changes would raise that limit to $60,000 per year.
The items that will no longer be taxed include:
- Baby wipes
- Baby diapers
- Baby bottles
- Maternity clothes
- Menstrual products
- Nursing bras
The Utah First-Time Homebuyers Assistance Program can provide up to $20,000 toward the cost of a down payment. The loan has a 0% interest rate.
However, some people are pushing back against the program because it can only be used to purchase homes that are $450,000 or less.
If you rent or own a home in an area affected by the July 2023 flood disaster, you may be eligible for up to $10,000! This money can be used to replace flood-damaged or flood-destroyed appliances and equipment.
In order to be eligible, you must be a low income Vermont resident who was affected by the floods. You must have an income that is at or below 120% of the Area Median Income in order to qualify. It appears this program will be administered by Efficiency Vermont, so contact them for details.
In Chesterfield, a resource fair will be held for grandparents or relatives who are raising a child. This fair will be held from 10am to 12pm on Wednesday, September 13. It will be located at the Central Library. Among other things, the fair will include resources for financial assistance, child care, mental health services and more.
In Seattle, the mayor has recently announced a new housing complex that will bring 72 new affordable units to the Rainier Valley community.
In Spokane, a new affordable housing complex called Beloved Sunset has opened. It has 50 apartments for low income individuals and families. Everyone who lives there must make 60% or less of the Area Median Income. The rent is based on your income. You can join the wait list by calling (509) 601-0445.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued around $650,000 to support affordable housing for low income seniors in West Virginia. These funds were sent to 13 different agencies, including:
- Agsten Manor
- Alderson Manor Apartments
- Baughman Towers Senior Apartments
- Brooks Manor
- Highlawn Senior Apartments
- Manor House Apartments
- Marion Unity
- Martinsburg Senior Towers
- Mountain Terrace
- National Church Residences of Montgomery
- Unity Housing
- Unity Housing Apartments
- West Virginian Manor
Wisconsin is currently experiencing a child care crisis. The governor has called for a special legislative session to help resolve this.
The Governor has proposed expanding the Child Care Counts program and implementing a 12 week paid parental leave program that would be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
In Buffalo, a developer is trying to lease an empty lot from the city so that they can build a 24-unit affordable housing complex. The complex would include two and three-bedroom apartments. If you would like to see this happen, please reach out to the city council members to express your support.
We’ve found a ton of resources for low income Americans this week! There are several nationwide updates, as well as low income news updates for every single state. From affordable housing to grants and more, the programs and news in this article can help you save money, get money, and make ends meet.