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New Financial Assistance Programs for Low Income Americans | $500 Checks Available

New Financial Assistance Programs for Low Income Americans | $500 Checks Available

Get ready for some good news! From rising wages to new checks you can claim, we’ve got the scoop on all of this week’s financial assistance programs for low income Americans!

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Nationwide Low Income News

This section contains our nationwide updates, which include good news about rising minimum wages, checks you can claim and so much more!

Trust Funds for Medicaid Kids

Several states have either created or have started considering proposals that would create trust funds for low income children whose births are covered by Medicaid.

Washington State has recently announced a proposal they call the Washington Future Fund. This program would create an initial trust fund of $4,000 for every child born under Medicaid in the state. That amount is expected to grow to around $15,000 by the time the child is 18. It would continue to grow until the child withdraws it, and the child could wait until age 35 to pull that money out. The money would have to be used for things like college, buying a home, or starting a business. The goal is to help kids from poor families break cycles of generational poverty. 

This is modeled after similar programs that have already been implemented in Connecticut and Washington DC. 

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The Connecticut Baby Bonds program provides children born under Medicaid in that state with an initial deposit of $3,200. That money is expected to grow to up to $24,000 by the time the child is 30. The child has to take a financial literacy course before they can withdraw the money, and the money can only be used for college, job training, retirement savings, or for buying a home or starting a business in Connecticut. 

The program is a little more complicated in Washington DC. There, children are given an initial deposit of $500, followed by $1,000 for every year that they live in the city and meet the income limits. If the child becomes ineligible later on, the deposits will stop but any money that has already been deposited will still be theirs. The money can be withdrawn for investing, going to college, buying a home or starting a business once the child has turned 18. 

Other states, including California, Massachusetts and Nevada, are considering implementing a program like this as well.

Nearly 10 million low income workers get raises.

In the upcoming year, minimum-wage employees in 22 U.S. states are set to receive higher pay. This wage boost is expected to benefit roughly 9.9 million workers, resulting in an estimated total income increase of about $6.95 billion, as reported by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Furthermore, on January 1, 38 cities and counties will raise their minimum wages above the state-mandated minimums.

Here is a list of some of the states with their new minimum wages:

  • Alaska: $11.73 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Arizona: $14.35 (Inflation adjustment)
  • California: $16.00 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Colorado: $14.42 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Connecticut: $15.69 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Delaware: $13.25 (Legislation)
  • Hawaii: $14.00 (Legislation)
  • Illinois: $14.00 (Legislation)
  • Maine: $14.15 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Maryland: $15.00 (Legislation)
  • Michigan: $10.33 (Legislation)
  • Minnesota: $10.85 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Missouri: $12.30 (Ballot measure)
  • Montana: $10.30 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Nebraska: $12.00 (Ballot measure)
  • New Jersey: $15.13 (Legislation)
  • New York (remainder of state): $15.00 (Legislation)
  • New York (NYC, Long Island, and Westchester): $16.00 (Legislation)
  • Ohio: $10.45 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Rhode Island: $14.00 (Legislation)
  • South Dakota: $11.20 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Vermont: $13.67 (Inflation adjustment)
  • Washington: $15.74

Please note that increases to the minimum wage can impact your eligibility for means-tested programs like SNAP and Medicaid. If your income increases, it can cause you to lose benefits.

FAFSA is Open for Applications

The long-awaited Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) overhaul is nearly complete! It’s open for a soft launch, which means that they are accepting a small number of applications while they test the system. The soft launch allows for improvements and updates to ensure a smoother application process.

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During this phase, the FAFSA form will be accessible only at certain times. This is to monitor and enhance the website’s performance. Don’t worry if you can’t access the form at times; your information will be saved once you submit it, and you won’t have to re-enter it later.

Hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait because the 2024–25 FAFSA form was designed to be more inclusive and user-friendly. It expands eligibility for federal student aid, like Pell Grants, meaning that many more low-income students can receive this aid. Also, the form is now shorter, with some applicants needing to answer as few as 18 questions in less than 10 minutes.

Claim Your Portion of Class Action Settlement Funds!

Class action settlements can be an important opportunity for individuals, especially those with limited income, to receive compensation without the need for separate legal action. If you find that you’re eligible for any of the class action settlements listed below, you may have the right to file a claim and potentially receive a monetary payout.

Open Settlements
Apple Gift Cards
If you bought an App Store or iTunes gift card between May 2017 and July 2020 and your gift card was redeemed by someone else before you could do it yourself, you may be eligible for a settlement check. Claims due January 8.
Choice Health Insurance
If you’ve been notified by Choice Health about a potential compromise of your information in a May 2022 data breach, you might be able to claim a check. Claims due Jan 9.
Family Dollar Pest Infestation – $25
If you bought products from a Family Dollar store serviced by the West Memphis Distribution Center between January 1, 2020 and February 18, 2022, you may be able to get a check. This distribution center serves locations in  Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Claims due Jan 9!
Panda Express Delivery Fees – $10
If you were charged a service fee when you placed a delivery order from Panda Express between July 17, 2020, and February 16, 2022, you may be eligible for a check. Claims due Jan 10!
Cottonelle Flushable Wipes
If you bought Cottonelle Flushable Wipes in 2020, you may be eligible for a check from this settlement! Claims are due January 16.
Snap Finance Data Breach
If you shared your personal information with Snap Finance and received a notification that your data might have been exposed in a data breach that occurred from June 23, 2022, to September 8, 2022, you could be eligible for inclusion in this settlement. Claims are due January 16.
Fortnite Unwanted Purchases
If you’re a Fortnite player in the United States who was billed for unwanted purchases, you might have the option to request a refund through this settlement. Claims are due January 17.
Equifax Data Breach
If you are among the roughly 147 million individuals impacted by the Equifax data breach in September 2017, you may be able to claim a check from this settlement. Claims are due January 22.
Bank of America Collection Calls – $500
If you are a Florida resident who has received communication from Bank of America about your account between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in your local time zone since April 22, 2020, this settlement may apply to you. Claims are due January 26.

Claiming your portion of a class action settlement is usually a simple process. Just click the links in the table above to go to the settlement website and fill out the claim form with your information!

Get Money for Your Personal Injury Claims

If you qualify for a personal injury claim, you could be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Knowing where to begin can be challenging, but our trusted partners at Injury Claims make it easier.

If you believe you might be eligible for any of their ongoing mass tort campaigns, they provide a complimentary claim review to get you started.

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Open Mass Torts
Hernia Mesh
If you or a loved one suffered from abdominal pain, intestinal blockage, or other severe injuries caused by a defective Hernia Mesh implant placed after January 1, 2010, you may be eligible for substantial financial compensation.
Talcum Powder Cancer
If you used talcum powder for feminine hygiene and were diagnosed with cancer as a result, you may be eligible for financial compensation. There’s a quick five-question survey that will help you determine if you are eligible.
Auto Accident Injuries
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a non-fault auto accident, you could be eligible for financial compensation to help with the physical, emotional, and financial aftermath. Fill out this quick five-minute survey to see if you’re eligible for a free case review.

Supercharge Your Side Gig with Skip Grants

If you run a side hustle or a small business, our partner Skip is ready to assist you in securing free funding to grow your business. They offer a user-friendly AI-powered platform that simplifies the grant application process, along with a comprehensive database of available grants.

In our weekly resource updates, we highlight grants with approaching deadlines, ensuring that you’re always informed about opportunities to secure funding for your business!

Open Entrepreneur Grants
January Skip Grants – $1,000
Apply for this grant in just two clicks! You just need to register for a Skip account and subscribe to the Skip YouTube channel. Apply by January 29.
Skip 2024 Kickoff Grant$10,000
Start 2024 with an investment in your side gig or business! Skip is offering $10,000 to a US-based entrepreneur or small business owner. It only takes a few minutes to apply! Apply by January 31.
2024 Veterans Business Battle$15,000
Veterans with small business or entrepreneurial ideas may be able to get up to $15,000 from this grant program. Apply by February 13!

Get started with your application by applying for a free Skip account today!

Local Low Income News

We have extra updates for Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC and West Virginia this week!

Arizona

A new project called the Hearing Healthcare Assistance Project is helping low-income adults in Arizona get free hearing health care. This project is a partnership between the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing and the state’s three universities.

This program offers free hearing care, including hearing aids, to eligible individuals aged 21 and above who don’t have insurance. If you require hearing health care services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing to connect with this program.

Arkansas

The Central Arkansas Development Council is now accepting applications for LIHEAP! This program can help pay your home energy bills. You just need to have a household income that is at or below 60% of the Area Median Income or 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.

California

California is making history by offering free healthcare to over 700,000 low-income immigrants living in the state without legal status. Starting this year, immigrants will have access to healthcare through the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal.

This initiative, agreed upon by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers in 2022, makes California the most populous state in the country to provide such coverage, following in the footsteps of Oregon, which started a similar program in July.

Meanwhile, Bay Area Regional Transportation increased the rate of their low income transit discounts. The discount has increased from 20% to 50% at the start of the year. If you qualify, you’ll get half-off your fares!

Also, the Long Beach First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program grants have increased from $20,000 to $25,000! They have also increased the income limits to 200% of the Area Median Income for Los Angeles. That means a family of four could earn up to $196,400 per year and still qualify for help!

Don’t miss these events and deadlines!

Colorado

Denver’s Temporary Rent and Utility Assistance Program is accepting applications again! This program can help you with your rent and utility expenses. If you live in Denver and have a household income that is 80% or less of the Area Median Income, you may be able to get help!

Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Sport Office offers a fee-free registration option for low income residents who can’t afford the cost of youth sports leagues. However, you need to contact them right away to claim your spot because they only allow a certain number of free registrations for each season.

Connecticut

Connecticut has a special program that helps low income homeowners fix crumbling home foundations. This program serves people who have a household income that is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. You can apply online at CrumblingFoundations.org.

Florida

Habitat for Humanity in Central Florida is accepting applications from low-income families who want to own a home. You can apply for this opportunity through our application portal. However, please note that spots are limited, so don’t wait. Applications are processed in the order they are received.

You’ll need to start by going to their website and clicking the Begin Orientation and Apply Now button. Orientation takes just 15 minutes. You’ll have to pay a $50 non-refundable application fee in order to submit your application.

If you have any questions or face any barriers in completing the application online, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or call 407-648-4567.

Idaho

The Department of Health and Welfare announced that Idaho provided weatherization services for 270 homes last year. They also provided LIHEAP benefits to more than 40,000 households. The average amount of benefits was around $400. You can apply for both of these programs with the Department of Health and Welfare.

Don’t miss these events and deadlines!

Illinois

Naperville is distributing free sharps containers to residents who need them. The free containers are available for pickup between now and June 30th. You can get them from the Naperville Fire Department Administration Center during their open hours.

Indiana

Portage has expanded the eligibility guidelines for their rent and utility assistance programs. The new income limits have been increased to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. That means a family of four with a household income of $3,750 per month may be eligible.

If you need help with the new FAFSA application, Purdue University Fort Wayne can help! They are hosting support sessions over the next two months to help people complete the forms. The events will be held at the Classic Ballroom at Walb Student Union on January 10, January 18, February 7 and February 20. You will need to register in advance for these sessions.

Kentucky

If you’re a low-income resident in Kentucky, you can apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from January 9 to March 31. LIHEAP helps households facing heat emergencies, like running out of heat, low fuel, or eviction because of unpaid utility bills.

To apply, you’ll need your Social Security card, proof of income for one month, your most recent heating bill, and your heating and electric bill account number and name. If you’re at risk of losing gas and electric service, include the overdue or disconnect notice.

The program operates on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds run out, and getting help before won’t affect your eligibility. You can get an application at your local Community Action Kentucky office. There’s one in all 120 Kentucky counties.

Maryland

Some new state laws have taken effect. Under the new rules, the income limits for the state’s utility assistance programs have been increased to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Telemarketers are also prohibited from using robocallers without prior written consent of the people they are calling.

Montgomery County is offering free RecFit passes to residents this year! This pass can give you free access to the county’s 22 recreation and fitness centers. You can sign up in-person at any of their rec center locations. You just need proof of residency and a photo ID. If your photo ID has a Montgomery County address, that’s all you need.

Massachusetts

Norfolk is accepting applications for a new program called the Retire in Place Assistance Program. This program provides up to $5,000 in financial assistance to low income seniors and people with disabilities who need to repair or rehabilitate their homes. You must own your own home in Norfolk and have a household income that is at or below 50% of the Boston Area Median Income.

Minnesota

Kaitlyn’s Kloset in Eagen recently received an $18,000 grant to expand their services for low income families. This organization provides a food bank and clothing closet for local families.

Montana

Six Montana towns have received a $750,000 grant from the Montana Department of Commerce. This money will be used to rehabilitate 68 homes for low income residents. The towns are Billings, Butte, Hamilton, Helena, Missoula and Kalispell.

Nevada

Las Vegas is offering financial relief to low-income seniors by providing rebates on utility taxes. Seniors aged 60 or older, earning less than $16,500 (individuals) or $18,900 (married couples/head of households) annually, can qualify. This rebate covers franchise taxes on utilities like electric power, landline phones, and natural gas, along with partial sewer bill rebates for eligible homeowners in the city.

Applicants must bring specific documents, but application forms are not online. They need to make appointments at designated centers between January 2nd and March 15, 2024, to apply. This program aims to help seniors with their utility expenses.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Human Services Department is providing an extra $200 payment to households that received utility assistance between October 2022 and September 2023. You do not need to apply for this benefit.

Meanwhile, Bernalillo County is introducing an exciting initiative to encourage landlords to rent to low-income tenants eligible for federal Section 8 rental assistance and the county’s housing program. Through the Landlord Incentive Pilot Program, landlords can receive reimbursements of up to $7,500 per unit to cover damages caused by voucher participants. Additionally, landlords will be eligible for up to a month’s rent if their unit remains vacant during necessary repairs.

New York

Governor Hochul has announced more than $46 million in grants that will be used to help low income families secure safe and affordable housing. The money will be used to provide free home repair grants, down payment assistance grants and even replace manufactured homes.

Some of the programs that received grants include:

  • NYS HOME Program will provide down payment assistance grants, replace old mobile and manufactured homes that are falling apart, and provide rental assistance. You must have an income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income to qualify.
  • Access to Home helps people with disabilities afford their homes. They have special programs for veterans and people on Medicaid as well.
  • Mobile and Manufactured Home Replacement Program helps replace homes that are too damaged to repair. In order to be eligible, you must own the land underneath the home. They can provide you with a new manufactured, modular or site-built home.
  • RESTORE helps seniors with urgent repairs that are needed to improve safety or fix code violations.

In other news, the state has also streamlined the application for services from the Office of Victim Services. This department can help you if you are affected by a crime and need financial assistance with crime-related expenses such as medical bills, counseling, funerals, lost wages, or similar costs. The new application has eliminated a lot of questions, making it easier to get help.

Ohio

Summit County has a program called the First Home First Loan Payment Assistance Program. This program was relaunched in November 2023 with the goal of encouraging homeownership in the area. The program provides a 3-to-1 dollar match for up to $12,000. That means that for every $100 you invest, Summit County will give you an extra $300 toward your home. You must have a household income that is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income in order to qualify. You can download the application to get started.

Oregon

The ReOregon Program can help people who were affected by the wildfires and straight-line winds on Labor Day 2020. This program helps people repair, replace or rebuild their homes. There is also an assistance program for renters that may be able to help you buy a home. The state is expected to begin processing applications in March.

Pennsylvania

The pilot program offering fare breaks for Pittsburgh Regional Transit riders who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been extended. While the fares won’t be free, they will be available at half price initially.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is accepting applications for the Real Estate Tax Installment Plan, which allows you to pay your property tax bill in monthly installments without extra charges. Eligibility is open to all Philadelphia seniors who own and live in their homes, regardless of income. If you’re not a senior, you can still qualify based on your household income and family size.

Applications for the 2024 Real Estate Tax Installment Plan are now being accepted until March 31. Seniors need to be at least 65 years old (or have a spouse of that age) to apply. There are no income requirements for seniors. Non-senior residents can check if they qualify as low-income taxpayers based on family size and income guidelines.

To apply quickly, visit the Philadelphia Tax Center online, which is also accessible in Spanish. Alternatively, you can use the paper application available in Spanish and Simplified Chinese. Applying for this program is a one-time process, and new participants can spread their payments over eight installments in the first year.

Don’t miss these events and deadlines!

South Dakota

South Dakota lawmakers are considering a proposal that would stop schools from charging low income families for meals. Under the new rules, families who qualify for reduced-price school meals would not have to pay. Instead, that charge would be subsidized by the state.

Tennessee

If you live in Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery or Sumner Counties and you sustained damage or losses from the December 9th tornadoes, you may be eligible for FEMA assistance. They can provide financial help for temporary lodging, home repairs, and other disaster-related expenses. You need to call (800) 621-3362 or visit DisasterAssistance.gov to apply. The deadline is February 12, 2024.

Texas

The Community Council of South-Central Texas has money available to help you with rent, utilities, deposits or temporary housing! If you have been financially affected by COVID-19 and you meet income requirements, you may be eligible. Contact CCST for details.

Don’t miss these events and deadlines!

  • Jan 8: Applications open for Uplift Harris Guaranteed Income Program
  • Jan 26: Deadline for Uplift Harris applications

Virginia

Culpeper County residents can get reimbursed for up to 80% of the cost of pumping, maintaining, repairing or replacing their private septic systems through a new program from the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District! You need to apply before getting the work done, because advance approval is required. For more information, call CWSCD at (540) 825-8591.

Loudon County may soon open their wait list for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The supervisors are supposed to make a decision about this on January 10.

Don’t miss these events and deadlines!

Washington 

Lawmakers are considering a new proposal called the Washington Future Fund. This program would create trust funds for children who are born under the state’s Medicaid Program.

Each covered child would receive a trust found with at least $4,000. That amount is expected to grow to $15,000 by the time the child is 18. The money wouldn’t be accessible until the child is between the age of 18 and 35 years old, when they could use the money to purchase a home, start a business or go to college.

Other states like Connecticut and Washington, D.C., have passed similar programs, and several, including California, Massachusetts, and Nevada, are considering adopting this model as well.

In other news, Treehouse offers Driver’s Assistance to foster care youth. This program can provide assistance covering the cost of tab renewals, gas cards, comprehensive auto insurance, car maintenance, driver’s education fees, licensing and testing fees and more!

In order to be eligible for this program, foster youth must be between the ages of 15 and 20 years old. They must have an open State or Tribal dependency case. Extended Foster Care cases are included. No referral is required! You can request assistance directly on the Treehouse website.

Washington DC

Mayor Bowser has announced that the Safe at Home Program will receive an extra $1 million in funding this year. They will also raise the income cap to 100% of the Area Median Income. That means that seniors who earn $99,600 or less for an individual or $113,850 for a couple may qualify for assistance with home repairs.

Homeowners over the age of 60 may also qualify for free snow removal through the Volunteer Snow Program. You need to call (202) 727-7925 to register for this program.

West Virginia

West Virginia residents can claim free seeds from the Grow This! Garden Challenge by the West Virginia University Extension Service. You need to register now to get your seeds, which will be sent to you in April. Each household can only claim one pack.

Meanwhile, West Liberty University has announced that they will begin the Tuition Free Toppers Program in Fall 2024. This program will cover the cost of in-state tuition for low income students who meet academic qualifications and are eligible to receive the Pell Grant each year.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has implemented new rules designed to help children keep consistent health care coverage. If your child becomes eligible for the BadgerCare Plus or other Medicaid programs, they will be able to keep that coverage for 12 months even if your household income increases or you are no longer eligible.

Relief Recap

In this week’s resource recap, the Low Income Relief team reports on everything from minimum wage increases to home repair grants. The financial assistance programs discussed in this article can help everyone, regardless of where they live in the United States. Don’t hesitate to contact the agencies listed in this post for help!

Michael

Thursday 1st of February 2024

There is nothing in the state of Alabama that affects or helps me. I'm in need of financial help with reliable transportation and financial aid.

Catherine Marucci

Thursday 1st of February 2024

Hi Michael. Have you tried calling 211? Sometimes, they'll know of other programs.

Brittany

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Every time I'm hoping Oklahoma will be in the list for any kind of help or low income or disabled people, it never happens. Anyone reading this never move here lol

Angie Murrell

Friday 12th of January 2024

What financial assistance is available for people in Florida? Because I really need help.

Catherine Marucci

Friday 12th of January 2024

Hi. Here's what we've found so far for Florida: https://lowincomerelief.com/category/florida/ I hope some of it helps!

Tracy

Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Hi, Just wanted to say thanks first and foremost your site is very informative. I've actually sent it out to people I know in other states. I did wanna say though I know you research your stuff very well. I noticed the advertising on this page and it has to do with the $6400 subsidy card. I see this advertised on youtube all the time as well. Now I have some cognitive issues. So I could very well be wrong. However, everything that I have looked up and seen on. This subsidy says it's a scam. I would like you to confirm that if you would be so kind. I actually wrote YouTube about it. But of course, you know I never hear anything back. However, if you research it and it is a scam, it would be nice to have those advertisements removed from your site as well. If I'm wrong, i'd like to know. I'd like to know why I'm wrong. And maybe get some clarification on how exactly this thing works. I mean, the general rule is when it sounds too good to be true, it is. This definitely sounds too good to be true and like I said. I'm seeing that it's a scam. I don't know why they allow this. Thanks again for all you do!

Nicole Thelin

Thursday 11th of January 2024

Hey Tracy! The ads on our site are placed automatically, so I didn't see the ad for the subsidy card. I can tell you that I have not heard anything about it from any legitimate sources, so I would not trust it. I'll see if there's some way to remove it from the site but I have very little control over the ads that show on YouTube so it will probably continue to show there, unfortunately. -Nicole