Millions of dollars of money is waiting to be claimed through the LIHWAP program and other local low income assistance programs!
We’ve found grants for utilities, down payment assistance, rent relief, home repairs, college, and SO much more! We’ve even found one city that is offering $25,000 in reparations to eligible Black families!
It’s been a slow news week at the nationwide level, but there are still three updates that you need to know.
Apply for LIHWAP now!
If you would like to get help with your water and wastewater bills, you need to apply for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program right away! Many states are reporting that they have a lot of money set aside for this program that has not been claimed… but time is running out to claim those funds!
Many agencies have so much funding available that they are expanding the eligibility criteria so that more people can qualify. For example, MAAC in San Diego is offering $2,000 to every income eligible household even if they don’t have a past due bill or even a balance due.
Less milk for kids on WIC?!
The Biden administration has proposed reducing the amount of dairy offered to low income children through the WIC program by 25%. The proposal would reduce the amount of milk by 2-4 quarts per month per child on average.
The reason the change was proposed is because WIC currently provides about 130% of the recommended daily dairy intake to participating families. The nutrition guidelines have recently changed, so the new reductions would bring the amount of milk provided by WIC more in line with current recommendations. It would also help the government save money by reducing WIC’s milk budget by about 3%.
Millions will lose Medicaid.
The post-pandemic Medicaid disenrollment has begun. The Continuous Enrollment Provision expired on March 31, 2023, and now states have to review every open case to make sure that the person receiving benefits is still eligible for them.
I recently covered this in depth on YouTube, so check out this video for more information.
Cigna Insurance denies claims without reading them.
An interesting report in ProPublica recently revealed that Cigna Insurance saves millions by having doctors reject health insurance claims without even reading them. A former company doctor revealed that they don’t even open the files, they “literally click and submit” the denials without looking at anything.
The company, which insures 18 million people, denied over 300,000 requests over two months, spending just 1.2 seconds on each case.
If you are a Cigna customer and you have a claim denied, I strongly recommend you fight it because it was probably an automatic decision. It appears that you can appeal or dispute their decisions at cigna.com.
Got debt? Get help!
If you’re struggling with credit card or medical debt, don’t hesitate to call our sponsor, CareConnect USA, at 866-530-9949 to speak to one of their debt relief counselors! They can help you stop collection calls and work with your creditors to arrange reduced payments. Again, that number is 866-530-9949.
We’ve found local news for Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
In Alaska, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is opening the rental voucher wait list in Anchorage! The wait list has not been open since April 2021.
The vouchers can assist people living in Girdwood, Eagle River and Eklutna. If you earn 50% of the Area Median Income or less, you are strongly encouraged to apply.
The wait list will close again on April 30.
In California, the California Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot Program has launched in 10 counties! This program is designed to match up to $60 a month in funds when you use your food benefits to purchase fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Basically, it works like the Double Up Food Bucks program except this pilot is monitored and managed by the state, so your double-up earnings are automatic. All residents of California can participate, but the state is only authorizing participating locations in 10 counties. The program has started in Sacramento and will roll out to Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Mendocino, Napa, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Santa Clara Counties later this year.
The city of San Francisco has also asked all the major ISPs in the area to reduce Internet costs for households who make 80% or less of the Area Median Income. Although the ACP currently provides Internet assistance for households making up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $27,000 per year, this change would raise the limit in San Francisco to $77,600 per year due to the higher cost of living in that area. There’s no word yet on whether or not the ISPs will comply with the city’s resolution.
And finally for California, Stay Housed LA is offering free legal services to low-income residents of Long Beach who face eviction. This program, called the Right to Counsel program, will continue until June 30. It is intended to help low income renters as California’s COVID-19 renter protections come to an end.
It is not clear which Saturday the events occur, so you will need to check with the organization for details.
In Delaware, a new law was just implemented that helps residents who are struggling to pay their legal fees. The new law does many things to help low income residents.
First, the law eliminates fines and fees for juvenile offenders. This is a huge improvement for low income families, because these extra fees add an extra strain to already difficult relationships. Parents are often forced to pay for their child’s misdeeds, even though the parents are innocent and already struggling financially.
It also stops the state from suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fees. That is particularly important, since people who get their licenses suspended for unpaid fees often either cannot get to work or have to break the law in order to work, which then results in more fees and a terrible cycle that just traps people in poverty. Forbes found that 42% of drivers who have their licenses suspended lose their jobs, which just makes a bad situation worse for people who are already struggling.
The new law also stops the government from charging interest or late fees, stops the government from making people on probation pay for their own supervision, and repeals the state’s fees for public defenders as well.
In Georgia, the LIHEAP Cooling Program opened up to senior citizens this month. Seniors who are at least 65 years old and live in the Savannah-Chatham County area can receive assistance with their cooling bills.
The program opens to seniors first, and then will open to the general public next month.
In Hawaii, advocates are pushing to build more tiny home villages to offset the current housing crisis. Even so-called affordable or low income housing is too expensive for most low income Hawaiian residents, so the hope is that these tiny villages will help solve the homeless crisis on the islands.
The villages use shared community bathrooms and shared community kitchens to help keep costs down.
In Idaho, the Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity is accepting applications for the affordable homeownership program.
Those who are accepted must invest 300-500 hours of sweat equity into the property and make modest monthly mortgage payments as well. The homes are financed with a no-interest loan and the house is primarily built by volunteers to keep costs low.
The application period will only be open until April 21st, so apply soon!
In Illinois, Evanston has expanded their Reparations program to provide cash benefits to Black residents that qualify.
This program launched in 2021 and has provided grants of up to $25,000 for mortgage assistance, renovations, or down payments on a home. Within the last few weeks, the city council has approved a cash option as well that will allow eligible applicants to spend the money in other ways.
In order to be eligible, you must be Black and have lived in Evanston during the period of harm (which is defined as 1919 – 1969) or be a direct descendant of an eligible person.
In Iowa, a new homeless housing unit in Sioux City has been approved by the city. The units are expected to be priced between $600 and $995 per month.
In Kentucky, the city of Owensboro is working to distribute $220,000 in rental assistance to eligible residents.
The city currently has more applications than it can fill, but they are working through them and anyone who has not heard back is on a waitlist. If any of the approved applications fall through, the funds will be given to applicants who are currently on the waitlist.
In Michigan, the city of Saginaw is working on plans for a $3.8 million housing rehabilitation program for low income residents. The program will provide roof rehabilitation and replacement, furnace replacements, and window replacements to low income seniors. To qualify, you must live in Saginaw (and have lived in Saginaw for at least one year), and meet income limits.
Also in Michigan, Detroit is setting aside $6 million to help low income residents who need down payment assistance. The fund will provide up to $25,000 toward the down payment. The money could also be used for escrow deposits, interest rate buy-downs, closing costs, or principal reduction. Up to 400 homebuyers are expected to receive help from this fund. In order to be eligible, you must not have owned a property within the last three years, and you must meet income guidelines.
In Nevada, Rebuilding Together offers assistance with fixing air conditioning, roofs and other essential home repairs. They have a National Rebuilding Day coming up on April 22, where volunteers will be painting, doing yard work and landscaping to help low income families in the area. Contact that organization for more information.
Also in Nevada, a five-acre parcel in Clark County was designated for affordable housing for seniors this week! The new building will provide 195 one- and two-bedroom apartments that will be rented out at below-market rates to low income seniors. In order to be eligible, seniors must earn below 60% of the Area Median Income. The facility will also include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, game area, hair salon, wellness center, kitchen, exercise room, courtyards, community gardens and more.
New York City
In New York City, a big change is being made to the low cost community broadband network. The current plan is being dismantled and replaced by a three-year program called Big Apple Connect. Instead of using local ISPs, the new plan uses big internet providers like Optimum and Spectrum.
According to the Electric Frontier Foundation, New York City is tearing down the infrastructure and starting over. It’s not clear what will happen to low income residents using that coverage during the transition.
In Oregon, it appears that the Oregon Promise Grant will continue but with modifications. This grant pays for community college tuition for Oregon high school graduates. The grant used to cover all graduates, but the state government recently voted to add an income limit. The grant will now only cover graduates whose families make under $100,000 and meet other requirements.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy has found that 1 in 5 Oregon residents who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit do not receive it. Although it is very late in the tax season, CASH Oregon is a program that provides free tax prep to residents who earn $60,000 or less per year. Please reach out to them for help, so that you can make sure you’re getting all the money you are eligible for.
In Texas, KeyBank helped purchase Woodway Square Apartments in Austin with the intent to transform it into low income housing. There are 240 units that will be set aside for individuals and families who earn 60% or less of the Area Median Income, when renovations are complete.
In Washington State, the Olympia Union Gospel Mission has a No Fee Dental Clinic. The clinic has over 20 volunteers and sees about 1,500 patients per year. The clinic now offers emergency services to Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor county residents.
Also in Washington, state Representative Mike Steele has proposed changing the state’s low income home repair loan program into a grant program instead. This program currently helps low income homeowners make important repairs to their homes, but many people have had a hard time repaying those loans. This new proposal would convert the loan program to a grant program. The grants would be capped at 80% of the home’s assessed value or $50,000, whichever is greater.
In Wisconsin, the Specialty Care Free Clinic in Madison covers 20 different specialties. They have over 40 physicians and over 50 additional volunteers who assist. In order to receive help from this clinic, you must be uninsured and referred by a Primary Care provider.