This week’s news update includes a lot of ways that low income Americans can get a little extra cash! From upcoming class action settlements to new business grants and exciting new legislation, this week’s update has good news for almost everyone!
Nationwide Low Income News
In this week’s update on “Nationwide Low Income News,” we highlight developments impacting low-income Americans, including changes in social welfare programs, affordable initiatives, and efforts to address economic inequality in various states across the country.
The COLAs Don’t Count Act
Congressional Representatives Gwen Moore from Wisconsin and Jan Schakowsky from Illinois have introduced a groundbreaking new proposal called The COLAs Don’t Count Act. If passed into law, this Act would stop the government from counting benefit COLAs against you in food stamps calculations.
This would be tremendously beneficial for low income families. In January 2023, after the annual COLA increases went into effect for Social Security and Veteran’s Benefits, an estimate 28,000 SNAP households completely lost their food benefits because of those increases. About 36% of SNAP households had their food benefits reduced by an average of $32 a month due to COLA increases.
Please reach out to your Congressional Representatives and ask them to support The COLAs Don’t Count Act!
Agriculture Bills Propose WIC Cuts
It’s time for Congress to start hashing out the 2023 Farm Bill, which governs a lot of food programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Specifically, the House GOP Agriculture Appropriations Bill would cut funding to WIC. Business Insider projects that these cuts would completely end WIC benefits for up to 750,000 babies and parents. The remaining 5.3 million participants would likely see their benefits reduced. Specifically, the bill aims to reduce the monthly allotment for fresh fruits and vegetables by about 50%.
Faster Tax Refunds Coming Soon
Soon, your tax refund could arrive up to four weeks faster! The Paperless Processing Initiative is expected to cut the processing time in half!
The downside is that this initiative isn’t expected to be fully implemented until 2025, so we still have a little while to wait before those changes will go into effect.
Biggest Apartment Construction Boom in Decades
According to PBS, America is currently experiencing the “biggest apartment construction boom in decades.”
Record-high rents have brought attention to the shortage of affordable housing in the United States, and the hope is that increasing inventory will help stabilize prices. Unfortunately, more than 40% of the new rentals are concentrated in just 10 metropolitan areas so PBS forecasts that most areas will not experience a noticeable shift in the housing inventory.
Are You Eligible for Any of This Money?
There are many programs, from class action settlements to grants, that can put extra cash in your pocket. Here are some of the ones that made the news this week.
$1,000 for People with Type 2 Diabetes
HealthWell Foundation has introduced a new financial assistance program for people who are living with Type 2 Diabetes. This fund can provide up to $1,000 in medication copay assistance.
In order to be eligible, you must have a household income that is 300% or less of the Federal Poverty Level. You need to call their organization at (800) 675-8416 to apply over the phone.
$10,000+ Business Grants
There are tens of thousands of dollars in business grants available but applications are due soon! Our partner, Skip, recently reminded us that the following grants have upcoming deadlines:
- Venmo Small Business Grant will provide $10,000 to 20 small business owners. You have to apply by August 7!
- Orange County Florida Small Business Grants will provide up to $10,000 to small businesses (including home-based businesses or gig workers) who experienced a revenue decline during the pandemic. Applications due August 11!
- Elevate Together Small Business Grants will provide up to $10,000 for Hispanic or Black owned small businesses. Applications due August 11!
- The Startup Collective by Aveeno will provide up to $100,000 to Black female entrepreneurs who have a product, brand or technology that focuses on the skin or hair care needs of Black consumers. Applications due August 13!
- Siete Juntons Fund will provide up to $50,000 to Latina-owned food establishments, such as food trucks, bakeries, or restaurants. Applications due August 15!
- Cook County 2023 Source Grant will provide up to $20,000 for small businesses in Cook County, Illinois, that started before 2020. Applications due August 18!
To apply for these grants, you just need to sign up for a free account at Skip!
There are a number of class action settlements coming up soon that could put money in your pocket!
- Facebook Location Settlement is for anyone who used Facebook and whose Location Services setting for the Facebook app was turned off at any time between January 30, 2015, and April 18, 2018. Claims are due on August 11. No proof is required.
- Facebook Privacy Settlement is for anyone who used Facebook between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022. You can file a claim online by August 25. No proof is required.
- Roblox Content Removal settlement is for those who used Roblox prior to May 11, 2023, and had virtual items removed from their account. Make sure you apply online before August 10!
- DirecTV Unwanted Calls settlement is expected to pay about $324 per claim. If you received a telemarketing calls from a certain DirecTV dealer despite being on the National Do Not Call Registry, this one’s for you! The deadline to file your claim is August 7!
- CityWide Home Loans Breach covers employees who were notified about a data security breach that took place between February and April 2021. If you received a notice about that, you may be eligible for this settlement! Claim yours online by August 8.
- Savannah College of Art & Design Data Breach settlement covers students and employees who may have had their data compromised during an August 2022 data breach. You can file your claim online by August 8.
Local Low Income News
We’ve found low income news updates for the following states and territories: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington!
In Alabama, an additional $1.3 million in grants have been released to agencies statewide to assist with low income utility expenses. The money has been distributed to Community Action Agencies, who can distribute the funds to the people through the LIHEAP program.
The Los Angeles Housing Department is trying to get the word out about tenant assistance programs. August 1 was the deadline to pay outstanding rent that was due between March 2020 and September 2021. Rent for October 2021 through January 31, 2022, is due in February 2024. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to call 211 and see what assistance may be available to you.
In Long Beach, an organization called Help Me Help You provides a Grocery Grab ‘N’ Go service for low income individuals and families. This program provides fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, breads, eggs, milk and more. There are 11 locations around the city where you can grab some free food. Get the list from the Press Telegram.
Help Me Help You also provides free grocery delivery for seniors through the Long Beach Food Pantry Delivery program.
Mission Medical Center, which provided free dental, vision, mental and physical health care for low income residents, has tragically shut down as of last Monday. The clinic is trying to conduct a fundraising campaign to be able to reopen, but it is not clear if the clinic will be saved.
Florida Power & Light has pledged not to disconnect electricity service when temperatures are 95 degrees or higher. This only applies to customers who would have their services disconnected for nonpayment.
Duke Energy Florida will not disconnect your service if there is a forecasted heat index of 105 degrees or higher.
If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, make sure that you reach out to your local provider for assistance and also apply for LIHEAP.
The nonprofit Cradles to Crayons hopes to distribute 98,000 backpacks to low income children around Chicago in the next few weeks. Please contact their organization for details if you need help.
Chicago has also sued a company called Vision Property Management after this company cheated low income people out of their money. The city alleges that this company trapped buyers into illegal contracts for old properties. In the meantime, the city is asking victims to come forward so that the city can try to recover your money for you.
Indiana food banks received a substantial infusion of cash from the Duke Energy Foundation recently! This company donated more than $200,000 in grants toward local food pantries and other community food resources. You can see a list of agencies that received funding on the Investors Observer site.
Community Action of Southern Kentucky has funds available to assist with your water bill! This money is available through the federal LIHWAP program and can help Kentucky residents throughout the state. You can get up to $100 through this program by applying with your local Community Action Kentucky office. You need to apply by September 22.
At the same time, applications for LIHEAP are also open until September 22. You can contact your city or Community Action Kentucky office for details.
The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is open for applications and the Jefferson Community Action Programs Department (JeffCAP) is trying to get the word out! If you haven’t applied yet, you need to apply right away. You could get up to $3,000 to pay your water bills!
At the Sowela Technical Community College, the Office of Workforce Solutions is now offering a free Class B CLD Training! In order to be eligible, you must live in Cameron Parish. This is a complete program with classroom and behind-the-wheel training.
If you don’t have your CDL permit yet, you can take the free online course to get the permit as well.
Classes start on Monday, August 7, so you need to register right away!
The Quality Housing Coalition recently began a limited guaranteed income pilot program. This program, called Project HOME Trust, provides $1,000 per month to 20 mothers for an entire year. The participants will also receive help with budgeting, credit counseling, parenting, child care and other needs.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore opened applications for low income housing on August 1! The applications will only be open until August 14. You can apply online but you need to do it right away!
Worcester Community Action Council has received funding and approval to establish a guaranteed income pilot program. This program will provide between $100 and $500 per month to 52 low income households. The funds will be provided on pre-loaded gift cards and can be spent however the users see fit.
Governor Murphy has requested a disaster declaration for the disastrous storms that hit Warren County in July. It appears that the federal government has not yet responded to that request.
In Hunterdon County, a new Department of Health program is providing eye exams and other services to low income people who can’t otherwise afford them. The events are held once a month and are available by appointment only. According to Tap Into, the appointments are booked through August but there some available in September. Call (908) 806-4570 for English or (908) 806-4548 for Spanish.
New York City has penned a new agreement with RIP Medical Debt. This partnership will eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars of medical debt that New York City residents currently owe to hospitals and providers in the area. The city claims that this will also help the health care system since they usually don’t get paid back on many of these debts.
A new affordable housing complex called Glenmore Manor is coming to Brownsville! This complex will offer 232 affordable housing units, which will only be available to families and seniors who earn 80% of the Area Median Income or less.
Another new affordable housing complex called Hope Gardens is being built in Bushwick. This complex will provide 154 units. Some will be studios and others will be one bedroom apartments. Of those, 47 units will be set aside for formerly homeless seniors, 48 will be set aside for very low income people who earn 30% of the Area Median Income or less and another 59 will be set aside for those who earn 40% of the AMI.
The state is offering Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers until September 30!
If you live in Surry or Yadkin counties, there are 200 vouchers available at the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District (YVEDDI). These vouchers are worth $50 each and can be used to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from your local Farmers Market.
In Guilford County, the Board of Commissioners is setting up a Crisis Intervention Program to help people who are having a heating or cooling crisis. The funds will be provided to the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Division, so be sure to contact them if you need help.
About 173,000 low income seniors are expected to be eligible for an expanded Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program under the newly-passed HB 1100. This legislation will expand the income limits and increase the maximum relief to $1,000.
Western Dakota Technical College now offers tuition assistance for low income students who receive help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This program provides help with tuition and fees.
The Texas Cultural Trust provides $1,500 to first-year art teachers who will be teaching at Title I schools. Applications are due by August 15.
Capital Metro, also known as CapMetro, has introduced reduced fares for low income Austin residents. This program is called Equifare and serves those who have a household income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Those who participate in certain means-tested programs are considered automatically eligible. The list of eligible programs includes:
- Medical Access Program
- SNAP / EBT / Food Stamps
- Travis County CEAP
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing
A new state-mandated program goes into effect this year. This program will ensure that Virginia residents do not pay more than 10% of their income toward their utilities.
Specifically, the regulations state that you do not have to pay more than 10% of your income toward your bills if you use electricity. If you do not use electricity, the limit is 6%.
In order to be eligible for this protection, you must have a household income that is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.
Also, families in Charlottesville may be able to get help with childcare costs. Mixed Delivery intends to help cover child care costs for more than 500 families this year. In order to qualify, your child must be between 3-4 years old and live in a low income home. They must also attend a participating learning center.
The Vancouver Housing Authority is installing air conditioners in many of their properties to combat the heat. Portable air conditioners will be provided to units in Arbor Ridge Assisted Living, Arbor Ridge Senior Estates, Crown Villa Apartments, Mill Creek Senior Estates and St. Helens Manor.
There are many ways for low income Americans to save money and get free stuff in this week’s update! From business grants to settlement checks to $3,000 utility subsidies, there are programs all over the place that can help you out.