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Low Income Resource Roundup | Dec 2, 2023

Low Income Resource Roundup | Dec 2, 2023

From holiday giveaways to cash you can claim, we’ve got the scoop on all the new financial assistance programs and programs that can help you. This week’s update includes foreclosure prevention, rent relief, Christmas giveaways, unclaimed cash, and so much more.

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Nationwide Low Income News

From USDA’s foreclosure prevention efforts to Tracfone’s lifeline violations, here are the latest updates and essential news impacting communities across the nation.

Help Prevent Medicare Scams

The federal government has finally decided it’s time to do something about those aggressive Medicare Advantage ads. They are asking you to become a fraud detective and report any misleading or deceptive sales tactics to 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). 

This is a 24-hour information hotline and they’re trying to gather intel on these companies that are cheating seniors out of their hard-earned Medicare benefits. 

You need to understand that the actual government-run Medicare program does not make unsolicited sales calls, so any call that you get from someone claiming or suggesting they are from the government is a scam. NPR also suggests that you report any company that claims to offer unrealistic savings, like $9,600 in drug savings, or that display the official Medicare name, logo, or membership card. They also say that you should watch out for companies that use words like ‘best’ or ‘most,’ or who rely on celebrity endorsements. 

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USDA Provides $208 Million to Prevent Foreclosures

The USDA has set aside around $208 million to help certain farm and emergency loan borrowers. This money will be used to cover delinquencies for about 210 borrowers whose loans were flagged for liquidation and another 1,120 borrowers who owe Emergency Loans. You can learn more about how this program works in the USDA Press Release.

TracFone Pays Up After Lifeline Violations

If you have used TracFone in the last few years, you’ll be interested to know that the company was found to have violated Lifeline rules. The company was fined more than $23 million for breaking the rules.

The company, which is owned by Verizon, discovered that 79 field agents had enrolled subscribers using falsified documents. These agents were paid on commission for new sign ups, which the government does not allow. It appears that the majority of the fraud took place in Texas and Florida.

If you have Lifeline, remember that you have choices! There are over two dozen Lifeline providers you can choose from. Safelink and TruConnect can even give you a free smartphone along with your monthly service.

Get Grants to Start or Grow Your Business!

If you have a side hustle or a small business, our sponsor Skip may be able to help you score some free money to help your business grow. Their comprehensive grants database even includes AI tools that make it easy to answer application questions!

Every week during our resource roundups, we cover the grants with upcoming deadlines so that you never miss a chance to win!

Open Entrepreneur Grants
The Coramino Fund – $10,000
If you are over age 21 and you own a business in the United States, you may be able to receive $10,000 from this program. You must apply by December 5.
$10k Skip Grant for Entrepreneurs – $10,000
All US-based entrepreneurs and small business owners who are at least 18 years old can apply for this grant. You must apply by December 15!
Atomic Grants – $1,500
Four women age 21+ will be awarded $1,500 to help bring their dreams to life! Winners will also receive coaching from Keystone International Group and a free year of Passion Collective On Demand. You must apply by December 15.
Galaxy Grants – $2,500
This program is looking for US-based women and minority business owners! You must refer a friend when you apply but don’t worry – if they win, you win! Apply by December 16.
December Skip Grants – $1,000
If you’re a US-based small business owner, you can 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 December 31.

You can apply right now! Start by claiming your free Skip account.

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Local Low Income News

We have new information for Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massahcusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

We also have reminders for California, Guam, Iowa and Wyoming.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC) has received funding to continue training and employing seasonal and migrant farmworkers throughout the state.

This program provides financial assistance to help eligible workers and their families with tuition, books, supplies and transportation. Participants also receive an hourly stipend while they’re working toward their goals.

The goal is to ensure that these people can get full-time work, whether that’s in farming or not. The definition of farming has been updated so that it includes food processing, working at fisheries or in forestry.

To get help from this program, visit your local Arkansas Workforce Center between July 1 and September 30, 2024.

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Remember these key dates!

California

Remember these key dates!

  • December: All Kern Transit routes are free for everyone
  • March 31, 2024: Deadline to apply for LIHWAP

Colorado

Governor Polis just signed a new law that provides $30 million in rental assistance money for Colorado renters. This program will help nearly 6,000 families avoid eviction.

The money must be used by June 30th. The state will send the funds to the Department of Local Affairs, which will distribute the money to local nonprofit groups that can help renters. Please contact your Community Action Council or the Department of Local Affairs for details on how to access these funds.

Remember these key dates!

Connecticut

Eversource customers will start to see the Winter Discount appear on their bills! This discount is available in the winter season and slashes bills by up to 50% if you meet income requirements. Make sure you reach out to the company to confirm your information and get that discount.

Florida

A new proposal in Florida would create a Swimming Lesson Voucher Program. This program would provide free swimming lessons to families who are low income. In order to be eligible, you would need to have a household income that is 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Level and have a child age 4 or under who would take the lessons. The state legislature will be considering this proposal when the new session begins in January, so please reach out to your state lawmakers and let them know if you support this bill.

Orlando has a new affordable housing complex as well. There are 149 units available at the Palm Gardens Apartments. The newly renovated apartments will cost $750 a month and include utilities. You will need to earn 80% of the Area Median Income or less to qualify.

It looks like some new affordable housing opportunities will be coming to Orange County in 2024. A new complex called Barnett Villas is expected to open in October 2024 with 156 affordable apartments. Silver Lakes Villages in Rosemont is going to be improved to help low income seniors.

Guam

Remember these key dates!

Idaho

Idaho homeowners will receive a reduction in their property taxes this year! The average savings will be around 18% for residential homes. Commercial property owners will see an average of a 14% reduction. Governor Little explained that the reduction is designed to help offset the increases caused by rapidly increasing property values.

Remember these key dates!

Illinois

The Minor Home Repair Program in Champaign provides free home repair services to those who qualify. They can help fix leaky roofs, sewage problems and broken heaters. You must have a household income that is 50% or less of the Area Median Income in order to qualify. Seniors and people with disabilities can earn up to 80% of the Area Median Income instead. Contact the city of Champaign for details.

Champaign will also get a new affordable health center and pharmacy soon. Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness plans to open a new clinic within the next 12-15 months. This is a federally qualified health center, which means that they help low income patients in their communities.

Iowa

Remember these key dates!

Kentucky

If you’ve ever wanted to start a food business, listen up! Chef Space in Louisville received a grant that will be used to train 50 entrepreneurs in Jefferson County. The classes will last eight weeks and will teach you how to run a restaurant, food truck or other food company. Applications will open in January.

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 15: Deadline to apply for LIHEAP

Louisiana

It appears that LIHWAP is still available in Louisiana! To help people register for these funds, The Jefferson Community Action Programs Department is hosting three events in December. At each event, they will help 150 people register for these benefits. You will need to bring documentation and probably register in advance to make sure that you can get help.

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 3: Free Christmas trees for veterans in Lake Charles
  • Dec 8: LIHWAP Outreach Event in Marrero
  • Dec 13: LIHWAP Outreach Event in Metairie
  • Dec 15: LIHWAP Outreach Event in Jefferson

Maine

A former sanatorium in Fairfield has been renovated into affordable housing for seniors. The new complex is called Mountain View Apartments. It’s available for those who are at least 55 years old and meet income requirements. As of this week, there are still 12 apartments available!

Maryland

Prince George’s County has decided to try a guaranteed income pilot program. They have called the program Thrive Prince George. This program will provide $800 per month to 125 seniors who are over the age of 60 and living on fixed incomes. There will also be 50 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who have aged out of foster care that will receive the money. There is no word yet on how to apply.

Don’t forget to claim your free $20 Rideshare Credit!

Massachusetts

Boston is considering a Guaranteed Income Program pilot. It is not clear if or when this program would move forward. If you live in Boston and would like to see this come to pass, reach out to the Boston City Council to express your support.

Martha’s Vineyard has decided to make the Vineyard Transit Authority busses free for everyone through the Try Transit program. The fares will remain free through March 2024.

Brockton also received a Try Transit grant. Their rides will be free through May 31.

There are some new luxury apartments have set aside 36 units for low income renters. The Hanover Hyannis apartments have a cinema-style theater, pet spa, exclusive dog park, pool and fitness center.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has received a $2.5 million grant to help low income students pursue degrees in computer science. Starting in 2024, the PASS-CS program will help up to 10 first-year students with up to $15,000 per year. Those students will receive that money every year for four years.

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 4: Deadline for Hanover Hyannis housing lottery
  • Dec 25: Free Christmas Meals in Falmouth

Michigan

Braveheart’s Pub in Alma will be giving away free Christmas trees on December 3rd. There will be 100 trees available starting at 11am. Some Christmas lights and tree stands may also be available while supplies last.

Remember these key dates!

Minnesota

A group of state lawmakers want to introduce a new proposal that would cap child care costs for low income families. This policy would ensure that families earning 150% or less than the state median income would only pay about 7% of their household income for child care costs.

Right now, expects estimate that Minnesota families spend about 20% of their income on child care. The average cost of infant care in the state is more than $16,000 per year.

Under the new proposal, families would pay 7% of their income for child care and the state would essentially pay the rest.

Nevada

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 3: Free Christmas tree giveaway in Las Vegas

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program opened on Friday. This is the state’s LIHEAP program, which provides financial assistance to low income residents. They can help with your electric, natural gas, propane, wood, oil, kerosene or other heating bills.

You may be eligible for help if you earn 60% or less of the state median income. To apply, you need to contact your Community Action Agency.

New Jersey

It’s hard to get housing when you have a bad credit score. Lawmakers in New Jersey know this, so they are considering a new bill that would guarantee rental payments for landlords who rent to people with bad credit.

This doesn’t meant that the tenants would not have to pay the rent. It just means that if the tenant didn’t pay rent, the government would make sure the landlord got paid.

The government fund could be used to pay for rent, property damage, legal fees, and other things that the tenant would normally be responsible for. If the government has to pay, the renter has to pay the government back within 90 days.

If this new proposal becomes law, the program would start by guaranteeing payments for just 1,000 renters who already receive help from the state’s rental assistance program. They would study the effect of the program for about 18 months before deciding whether or not the state should expand it.

New York

Low income residents in New York’s North Country may be able to get a discount from local Community Supported Agriculture programs. There are three farms in this area that have received federal funding to support their Fair Share program that helps low income people get free food for four months during the year.

In Syracuse, the planning commission is expected to vote about a new housing development proposal in the next few weeks. This new development would include five buildings with 68 homes. The project is called La Liga Westside Village.

North Carolina

It’s time to apply for Medicaid and LIEAP in North Carolina! Many legal aid organizations like Pisgah Legal are helping people apply.

Medicaid now covers people between the ages of 19 and 64 who have higher incomes. You can find the expanded eligibility criteria and applications on the North Carolina Medicaid website.

North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services has announced that you will automatically receive a LIEAP payment if you meet one of these requirements:

  • You are already receiving services from the Division of Aging and Adult Services AND you are either 60 years old or disabled.
  • You currently receive help from Food and Nutrition Services (SNAP).
  • You received LIEAP last year.

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 25: Free Christmas Day feast in Henderson
  • March 31: Deadline to Apply for LIEAP

Ohio

Seniors can get free monthly food boxes from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The box includes 30 pounds of food including two pounds of cheese and 15 pounds of pre-packaged produce.

This service provides one box every month for low income seniors who are at least 60 years old. If you are eligible, you can pick up the box every month, all year round.

There are many different organizations that provide these boxes through a partnership with the food bank. For example, the First English Lutheran Church has a distribution on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

In other news, the former director of the Clermont Metropolitan Housing Authority has been charged with two counts of federal program theft. He is accused of stealing more than $70,000 in 2018 and 2019.

Remember these key dates!

Oklahoma

The Salvation Army of Lawton offers a “Bridges Out of Poverty” program several times per year. This program brings a small group together to learn about budgeting, applying for work and connecting with resources. It lasts about 12 weeks. Contact the Salvation Army for details.

Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority had to scale back plans for the climate benefits they wanted to include in the Oregon Health Plan. That’s what the state calls Medicaid.

The federal government did not approve the state’s changes, which would have allowed eligible people to get heaters and air conditioners to help them deal with extreme weather. The federal government has told the state that they still have to file a formal declaration of emergency in order to distribute those items.

As a result, the Oregon Health Authority plans to roll out a more limited version of these changes sometime in March. They are trying to find a way to operate the program that aligns with the federal government’s requirements.

Remember these key dates!

Rhode Island

Governor McKee has recently announced that Rhode Island has over $90 million in funding available for affordable housing. This money will be provided to 13 different housing programs.

South Dakota

The Northern Hills Cinema will be showing free Christmas movies through the month of December. The schedule can be found here.

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 2: Free Christmas Movie in Spearfish
  • Dec 9: Free Christmas Movie in Spearfish
  • Dec 16: Free Christmas Movie in Spearfish

Tennessee

Applications are open for LIHEAP and LIHWAP in many areas. These programs can help you pay your energy and water bills. The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency (UETHDA) is one of the agencies that is accepting applications.

Texas

Texarkana has funds to help build new homes for low income homeowners! This program will help people who are living in substandard homes rebuild their homes. You don’t have to pay anything unless you sell your home within the next 5-15 years.

In order to be eligible, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must live in a home that you own.
  • Your home must be substandard.
  • You must be current on your property taxes.
  • You must have a clear title to the property.
  • You must have a household income that is 80% or less of the Area Median Income.

The city will host a two-day event later this month at the Bowie Health Center for those who are interested!

Remember these key dates!

Vermont

Comcast is expanding in Vermont but before you sign up, you need to see if you are eligible for a discounted plan through Internet Essentials. This discount is for new customers only, so if you sign up for Comcast service before checking if you’re eligible, you might miss out on it.

It’s also time to apply for LIHEAP. This fund can help you with your heating costs. You must have a household income that is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level in order to qualify. That’s around $55,500 for a family of four.

Virginia

In Henrico County, some government workers will be able to get up to $25,000 toward the purchase of their first home. through the Employee Home Purchase Assistance Program. If the worker hasn’t owned a home for at least five years, they will be counted a first time home buyer. In order to get the $25,000 amount forgiven, the worker will have to continue working for the county for at least five years.

Remember these key dates!

Washington

Growing Resilience in Tacoma (GRIT) just received more money to continue their program. This is a guaranteed income program that provides $500 per month to people who are struggling financially. They expect to select another round of participants in the next few years.

The Vancouver Housing Authority has set up a rental subsidy program for low income residents at the Rockwood Terrance Apartments in Washougal. The program helps pay rent for tenants who earn 30% or less of the Area Median Income.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources was recently awarded a $1 million grant to help support the Mothers and Babies Support Program. This program is designed to help pregnant women and new babies.

Wisconsin

Milwaukee County quietly scrapped a plan to wipe crippling medical debt. The plan would have used American Rescue Plan Act funds to wipe away around $153 million in medical debt for 67,000 Milwaukee County residents. However, the county Budget Director stated that there were “issues with health care providers” that prevented the plan from going through.

Fortunately, the discussion has led to an increase in the number of patients receiving charity care from area providers. Many health systems in the area, including Aurora Health Care, Ascension, Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert Health, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that their policies currently forgive all unreimbursed medical expenses for patients below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. At some hospitals, they forgive everything for everyone under 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Wyoming

Remember these key dates!

  • Dec 6: Deadline to apply for Jefferson County Christmas Neighbors
  • Jan 31: Wisconsin Fund application deadline

Relief Recap

This week’s roundup offers crucial aid for low-income families across the U.S., from rent relief programs to Christmas assistance. Settlement checks and class actions could provide extra cash for eligible individuals. Specific assistance with utilities, employment and low income housing were also included. Stay informed about all the low income news you need to know by subscribing to our channel or our email list!