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Low Income Alert: What You Need to Know in June 2024

Low Income Alert: What You Need to Know in June 2024

From alleged charity fraud to potential credit score boosts and scam alerts, this week’s news roundup is a whirlwind of financial highs and lows.

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We’ll delve into the troubling accusations against Modest Needs, expose new housing voucher scams, and warn about some unexpected dangers. On a brighter note, we’ll share updates on potential medical debt relief, a Supreme Court case that could impact Medicare funding, and a slew of local assistance programs designed to ease your financial burdens.

Nationwide News

From a disheartening betrayal of trust to promising developments in healthcare and financial protection, this week’s national news roundup covers a range of topics that could significantly impact your wallet and well-being. Let’s dive right in.

Modest Needs Founder Faces Fraud Charges

Keith Taylor, the founder of the charity Modest Needs, has been charged with fraud and tax evasion. The Department of Justice alleges that he embezzled over $2.5 million in donations intended for low income families, using the money for personal expenses such as luxury dining, rent in a Manhattan high-rise, and cosmetic surgery.

Our team made monthly contributions to Modest Needs for quite some time. It is heartbreaking to learn that our money may not have been used as we intended. It’s also frustrating to realize that many people may not have received the help they needed because the money was spent this way.

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At this point, the future of Modest Needs is uncertain.

New Housing Voucher Scams on the Rise

Scammers are targeting low income individuals with fake housing voucher offers, particularly in states like Michigan. These criminals create convincing flyers and online ads using the housing authority’s name and logo to trick you into giving them your personal information.

The scammers may contact you directly or you may see their misleading ads online or in your community. They often promise guaranteed housing assistance or vouchers. However, their websites and phone numbers are fake and designed to steal your information. Even if they don’t ask you for money, they could use this information to steal your identity.

Remember these steps to protect yourself:

  • Never pay for housing assistance applications: Legitimate housing authorities do not charge fees to apply for vouchers.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links or call unfamiliar numbers: Verify the source of any housing offer before providing personal information.
  • Contact your local housing authority directly: They can confirm if an offer is legitimate and guide you through the proper application process.

Remember to be very cautious whenever someone asks for your personal information. Don’t let scammers take advantage of you!

Beware of Pawns App

You may have seen ads or offers from a company called Pawns App, promising easy money for sharing your internet connection. This may sound appealing, especially if you’re struggling financially. After all, they pay influencers and users to recommend their service so it usually sounds like a good deal. But it’s important to understand the potential risks before you sign up.

Pawns App is a company that pays you to allow others to use your internet connection. This means strangers could be accessing websites, downloading files, or even engaging in illegal activities through your connection.

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There are several reasons why we do not promote Pawns App and actively warn our users to avoid it, including:

  • You have no control over who is using your internet or what they’re doing. This could expose you to malware or make you unknowingly complicit in illegal activities.
  • You are responsible for anything that happens through your internet connection, even if you weren’t aware of it. This could lead to legal trouble or unexpected charges on your internet bill.
  • Sharing your connection could slow down your internet speed or even cause temporary outages. It can also cause you to encounter more security features like CAPTCHAs as you browse the internet.

There are safer ways to earn extra income. Don’t risk your safety and financial well-being for a potentially risky offer.

Supreme Court Takes Medicare Case

Over 200 hospitals across the country are taking the government to court over claims they are being underpaid for Medicare services. They say this lack of funding could lead to hospital closures, especially in rural areas, making it harder for seniors to get the care they need.

If the hospitals win, it could mean more money to support the care of low income seniors. This could help improve access to medical care, especially in rural areas. However, if they lose, it could put a strain on hospitals which could potentially affect access to care and services.

This is an ongoing case. The Supreme Court recently agreed to decide the despite. The outcome could have significant impacts on healthcare for seniors, so I’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

New Rules Would Stop Medical Debt on Credit Reports

The government is proposing new rules that could remove medical debts from your credit report. This means that if you have unpaid medical bills, they won’t hurt your credit score anymore. This could make it easier for you to get a loan, buy a house, or even qualify for a credit card.

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Why is this important? Many medical bills are inaccurate or inflated, and debt collectors often harass people even for bills they don’t owe. This change would protect you from these unfair practices.

If these rules go into effect, millions of Americans could see their credit scores go up. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that the average person who benefits from this could see their scores increase by an average of 20 points.

The new rules also stop lenders from accepting medical devices as collateral for a loan. Lenders won’t be able to repossess medical devices like wheelchairs or prosthetics if they can’t repay loans.

This is still a proposed rule. The Low Income Relief team will keep close tabs on this situation as it develops.

Local News

From reduced energy bills in Alaska to free air conditioners in Pennsylvania, states are rolling out new programs and initiatives to help low income individuals and families. Several states are expanding access to energy assistance programs, while others are offering financial aid for necessities like electric bikes and home repairs.

Here’s what we’ve found in states across the country this week.

Alaska

The state legislature has recently passed a bill that should help low income people across Alaska save up to 20% on their electric bills. This new bill expands community solar power access to more households. It is expected to help over 300,000 people who live below the federal poverty line.

Colorado

Colorado has recently made adjustments to their refundable tax credits. Low income families with children could receive up to $3,200 per kid. Although the changes take effect for the current tax year, you won’t receive the money until you file your 2024 taxes early next year.

The state has also adjusted how the property and heating assistance grants are handled for low income seniors and people with disabilities. The current rebates will be replaced by an income tax credit.

Georgia

Low income residents in Atlanta may be able to get up to $2,000 off the cost of an electric bike. The Atlanta Regional Commission has partnered with Propel ATL to make e-bikes more affordable for people who need them.

If you have a household income that is 80% of the Area Median Income or less, you can receive a coupon code that will give you a $1,500 to $2,000 discount on an e-bike or electric cargo bike.

In order to receive the discount, you’ll need to fill out this online application between June 16 and June 23, 2024. During the application process, you’ll have to select what bike you want. Recipients will be selected randomly from all entries.

Hawaii

The Hawaii Home Energy Assistance Program is available this month. This program can provide a one-time payment toward your utility bills.

In order to qualify, you must make 60% or less of the National Median Income in order to qualify. That’s around $37,000 for an individual or $71,000 for a family of four. If you get SSI, SNAP or TANF, you may be considered automatically eligible regardless of your income.

The application instructions are different depending on which island you live on:

  • On O’ahu, you must apply in-person at the Honolulu Community Action Program office.
  • On Hawai’i Island, you must call the Hawai’i County Economic Opportunity Council for an appointment.
  • On Maui Island, you may submit your applications to the Maui Eoconomic Opportunity Council in person or through the mail.
  • On Kaua’i, you’ll have to contact the Kauai Economic Opportunity Inc office for application instructions.

Make sure you act fast. Applications are only open until June 28, 2024!

Illinois

A new bill has been passed to extend the Supplemental Low Income Energy Assistance Fund. This fund would have run out of money on January 1, 2025, if it did not get extended.

In the meantime, regular LIHEAP applications are still open until August so make sure that you apply right away.

Michigan

Many areas in Michigan are offering a Water Affordability Program. This program can provide to $3,000 to help you restore your service, pay down past due bills or prevent shutoffs. In some areas like Southwest Michigan, you could also receive up to $9,000 to fix any plumbing issues or pay reconnection fees.

In order to qualify, you must have an income that is 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Level. This program will run until 2026. You’ll need to contact your local Community Action Agency to apply.

Minnesota

Free emissions repairs may be available from Turbo Tim’s of Minnesota! This exciting new initiative is designed to help low income drivers fix their emissions controls and exhaust systems. If you qualify, you may be able to get those repairs done at the Turbo Tim’s locations in St. Paul Midway, West St. Paul and Northeast Minneapolis. Similar services are also available from Lift Garage, Cars for Neighbors, Project CAR and more.

New York

In Rochester, the city is working with JustCause to help low income homeowners with estate planning. The service would help 100 residents to receive free wills and estate planning services over the next two years. This plan will go up for a vote on June 18, so make sure to tell your City Council representatives if you’d like to see this happen.

Pennsylvania

If you received LIHEAP assistance last winter, you may be able to receive a free air conditioner! Local news provider WHYY reported that there is some limited funding available. In most cases, the weatherization agency that helped you before should reach out if you are eligible. However, if your contact information has changed or you haven’t heard anything yet, you can always call your local weatherization agency for more information.

South Carolina

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are still being distributed in South Carolina! The vouchers will be distributed at the Kershaw Second Baptist Church in Kershaw on June 18. If you’re in another area, please contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find a distribution event in your area.

Texas

Elder Aid is making it easier for seniors to stay safe from the heat. This organization helps low income seniors who live in Brazos County, Texas. You must be at least 60 years old. If you qualify, then you may be able to get help with utility assistance, medical transportation, minor home repairs and more. The local news outlet said that they even help with free air conditioners and yard work.

Virginia

Applications for Cooling Assistance open today! If you qualify, you could receive a free air conditioner, portable fans, help paying your utility bills and more. You must have a child under age 6 or a senior over age 60 in your household. You also need to meet income requirements. Apply with your local social services department before August 15!

A new state program is creating a new permanent supportive housing program to help low income people with serious mental illnesses. This program will provide housing vouchers, help connecting with benefits and other services that are designed to help people obtain needed treatment. This program is expected to launch this summer.

In order to be eligible, you must live in a participating county. It looks like Alexandria, Fairfax, and Prince William County are participating. You also need to be diagnosed with a mental illness and have a household income that is less than 50% of the Area Median Income. You also need to have a referral from a family member, homeless shelter, county jail or mental health facility.

Relief Recap

Despite the disheartening news about Modest Needs, there are glimmers of hope for financial relief and assistance. From new energy-saving programs in Alaska to free air conditioners for eligible Pennsylvania residents, states are stepping up to support low income individuals and families. Remember to explore the resources available in your area and stay vigilant against scams that prey on those in need.

Tammie

Sunday 23rd of June 2024

I wanted to come on here to say that be careful of using Google to get phone numbers. I called a number from Google that I thought was Zelle. It was a very convincing scammer. He told me I had a debt on my credit report that he could "fix" for me. He got $1200 out of me.

Brent Lawrence

Thursday 20th of June 2024

Thank you for all the helpful information you continuously give. Greatly appreciated..

Patricia

Monday 17th of June 2024

Requesting rental assistance resources nationwide as we have no real rental resources in Nashville, TN. It is very hard to get assistance!

Catherine Marucci

Monday 24th of June 2024

Hi Patricia. Hopefully, something in this article can help: https://lowincomerelief.com/rent-relief/

Eugene

Sunday 16th of June 2024

Thanks for everything you do

Roseann Ryan

Saturday 15th of June 2024

Hi! 😄, just to let you know my screen name is Crystal Waters. And thank you for all of the hard work you do! I don’t know how you do it! But THANK YOU! Kind regards, Roseann