In this weekly low income news recap, we’re going to talk about low income housing, medical charity care, and even some incredible state-specific payments that will be going out to low income residents next month!
Nationwide Low Income News
Some interesting studies were published this week that illustrate just how difficult it is to survive in America on a low income.
The Gap Report
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has released their 2023 Gap Report. This annual report shows the state of low income housing in America. The report shows that America still has a shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available rental homes for low income renters.
The report shows also that the problem is worsening over time and that the problem is worst in these states:
In those states, there are 30 or less low income housing units for every 100 renters who need them. The nationwide average is 33 low income housing units per 100 low income renters.
That’s not to say that things are great elsewhere. WBTV reported that “Charlotte’s low income earners need 4+ jobs to afford rent,” which is simply insane. They based their conclusion on a report from Zillow, which found that Austin Texas, Atlanta Georgia, and Charlotte North Carolina are the three most expensive markets in the country when you compare the minimum wage to the average cost of rent.
Hospital Charity Care
In other news, the Washington Post has also found that more than 26% of low income households have a past-due medical bill. Almost 75% of the debts are owed to hospitals.
This is significant because about 60% of hospitals in the United States are registered as nonprofits, and federal law requires those nonprofit hospitals to provide charity care and community benefits in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.
The study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown that since hospitals determine their own eligibility criteria and policies, not everyone who is eligible is getting that assistance. If you get treatment at a hospital, do not forget to ask them about their charity care and community assistance programs!
State-Specific Low Income News
Now, let’s talk about some state-specific news updates.
The 2023 PFD Filing Season ends on March 31, 2023. Any applications received or postmarked after that date will be denied.
The 2022 Permanent Dividend Fund amount is $3,284.
A new 386-unit low income housing unit is being built in Glendale.
The project will provide housing for people with incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. Rents will range from $497 per month for a one-bedroom to $1,837 per month for the most expensive three-bedroom unit.
The Economic Opportunity Agency in Springdale is reminding residents to apply for LIHEAP if they need help with their utility bills.
The program still has $300,000 left and only one month until the program ends, so you should apply right away if you are eligible!
The Property Tax, Rent and Heat Rebate credit is available for low income residents who meet specific eligibility guidelines. This credit can pay up to $1,044 a year!
In order to be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have lived in Colorado from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.
- You must have received less than $16,925 (if single) or $22,858 (if married filing jointly) from all income sources in 2022.
- You must have paid property tax, rent or heating bills during 2022.
- You must not be claimed as dependent on someone else’s tax return.
- You must have met ONE of the following requirements as of December 31, 2022:
- Age 65+
- Age 58+ and a surviving spouse who has not remarried
- A disabled person who is medically unable to engage in substantially gainful activity (work) AND who qualified for full disability benefits from a public or private plan or source for the entire calendar year.
The credit is paid in four equal installments in April, July, October and January. If you haven’t already, you need to get your application right away because direct Deposits begin on April 5!
The Athens Farmers Market is beginning a FarmRx program that helps low income families in Athens-Clarke County get free fruits and vegetables. This program provides free cooking and nutritional classes, as well as free health checkups.
People who participate get a certain amount of tokens that can be exchanged for free produce at either the Wednesday or Saturday Farmers Market.
The Healthy Illinois for All campaign was launched this week. This program seeks to provide comprehensive, affordable health coverage to uninsured low income immigrants between the ages of 19 and 41. The current law only covers immigrants over age 42, and this bill seeks to close the coverage gap.
Also, State Representative Lakesia Collins has proposed giving a $30 diaper allowance to families who qualify for WIC. This proposal passed out of committee on a unanimous vote, so I’m hopeful that this will eventually become law. I’ll keep you updated on it.
Prince George’s County is working on a proposal for a pilot program that would provide a basic income to people who live at or below the poverty line.
If the proposal passes, the program would provide monthly checks to 200 low income people for 24 months. This program would be open to seniors, as well!
The city of Chicopee has adopted some new tax relief programs!
Veterans and seniors who volunteer for up to 100 hours can receive up to $1,500 off their property tax bill.
Seniors may also be eligible for up to $1,000 off their taxes every year through a separate program.
The governor is advocating for a bill that will ensure that low income New York residents will never pay more than 6% of their income on their electricity bills. This initiative is still in committee and is not official yet.
Also in New York, the Sun River Health Center in Brentwood is providing free produce vouchers to their patients who have diabetes. The total value of the vouchers is more than $100,000!
The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency is distributing Low Income Household Water Assistance Program grants. This program provides $250 toward your water bill, even if your bill is as low as $10 per month.
According to the Johnson City Press, some customers can receive up to $5,000! The state has $1.3 million funds remaining and the program ends September 30.
In Washington, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has proposed capping late fees for past-due rent at $10 per month. The nearby cities of Burien and Auburn have already implemented a $10 late fee cap. The city has prohibited late fees for renters for the last three years due to the pandemic, but that protection is set to expire in October. The committee will vote on this on April 7.
Also in Washington, the Union Futbol Club in Spokane is making soccer free for low income children between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. Practices start on April 5! You’ll need to claim one of the 40 available spots by registering online or calling 509-557-0566.