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Expanded WIC Benefits, Medicare Savings, and More Low Income News

Expanded WIC Benefits, Medicare Savings, and More Low Income News

In a week filled with economic ups and downs, it’s crucial to stay informed about the news that directly affects you and your community.

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From national policy changes to local initiatives, this week’s recap covers the essential stories that impact low income Americans. We’ll delve into new programs and opportunities, explore legal developments, and shed light on the challenges many face in accessing essential resources. Let’s get started.

Nationwide News

From changes in food assistance programs to Supreme Court decisions and unexpected corporate kindness, this week’s news brings a mix of hope and challenges for those struggling to make ends meet. Let’s delve into the stories that are shaping the landscape for low income Americans.

WIC Income Limits Increased

Starting July 1st, more families can qualify for WIC benefits! The income limits have been raised to help families struggling with higher living costs.

WIC provides free healthy food, nutrition counseling, and other support services to pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and children under 5. WIC gives you access to nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and more. They also offer health screenings, breastfeeding support, and help from nutrition experts.

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If your family income is at or below 185% of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines, you may qualify. For example, a family of three can now earn up to $47,767 annually and still be eligible.

If you think you might qualify, contact your local WIC office to apply. Don’t miss out on this valuable program that can help you and your family stay healthy.

Medicare Rebate

If you use Medicare Part B, you might pay less for certain medications starting this month. This is thanks to a new rebate program that lowers costs for 64 different drugs used for various conditions like cancer and osteoporosis. Here’s the full list. These are usually medications given by a doctor or at a clinic, not the ones you take at home.

If you have Medicare Part B, you’re automatically enrolled in this program. You don’t need to do anything special to get the discount. It’s available until September, so check your bills to see if you’re saving money.

Supreme Court Decision on Homelessness

The Supreme Court recently made a decision that could affect people who are homeless. The court said it’s okay for cities to enforce rules against camping in public, even if homeless people have no other place to go.

This ruling might make life harder for those without homes. Cities can now more easily remove homeless camps and give out tickets or even jail time for sleeping in public.

This decision is a big deal because it changes how cities can handle homelessness. It takes away some protections for homeless people and gives more power to cities to control where they can and cannot stay.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with homelessness, there are resources available. Call 211 and reach out to local shelters, charities, or government agencies for help.

Tax Refund Delays Hurt Identity Theft Victims

If you’re a victim of identity theft and waiting for your tax refund, you could be in for a long wait. According to a new report, some people are waiting almost two years to get their money back from the IRS.

This problem is even worse for low income families who rely on tax refunds to pay bills and make ends meet. They’re often hit hardest by these delays, as they need the money sooner to cover basic living expenses.

The IRS says they’re working on the issue, but the backlog of cases keeps growing. There were about 500,000 unresolved cases in the backlog as of April. This is a major problem that needs attention, as identity theft victims are left struggling financially while waiting for their rightful refunds.

Digital Lending Library Removes 500,000 Books

The Open Library Project run by the Internet Archive has recently removed more than 500,000 books as the result of a lawsuit. This is a devastating loss to low income users around the world who use this digital library.

The Internet Archive is currently appealing the decision. Their library still contains over one million books and other published materials. They have asked users to sign the open letter encouraging the publishing companies to restore access to those books.

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Arizona Tea Refuses Inflation

Here’s a refreshing piece of news amidst rising prices: your favorite Arizona Iced Tea cans are still just 99 cents! That’s right, the company’s has been selling their products for 99 cents for the last 32 years and the CEO recently stated that they don’t plan to raise prices any time soon.

While some stores might charge more, the company encourages them to stick to the 99-cent price. So next time you’re looking for a budget-friendly thirst quencher, remember that Arizona Tea is still a sweet deal for your wallet.

Local News

Across the country, states and cities are stepping up with initiatives to support their residents, from hurricane preparedness programs in Florida to eviction prevention efforts in Atlanta. Let’s take a closer look at the news happening closer to home that could impact your wallet and well-being.

California

Applications are now open for affordable housing in Sonoma County. These Project-Based Vouchers can only be used for a three-bedroom unit at one of seven apartment complexes in the county.

In order to be eligible, you must be considered an extremely low income renter. That means you must make 30% of the Area Median Income or less. That’s around $41,500 or less for a family of four.

If you are interested, you need to apply before July 31. You can apply online or in-person at the local Housing Authority.

Florida

Florida homeowners can now apply for the My Safe Florida Home program, which provides free home inspections and financial assistance to make their homes more resistant to hurricanes. Low income seniors can apply until July 15th, while low income homeowners of any age can apply from July 16th to 30th.

Through this program, you can receive up to $10,000 to upgrade features like doors, windows, and roofs. The state will even match your spending $2 for every $1 you put in! This can lead to significant savings on insurance premiums and repair costs in the long run.

If you’re a Florida homeowner, don’t miss out on this opportunity to protect your home and save money. Apply for the My Safe Florida Home program today!

Tampa homeowners may be able to get even more help! If you’re struggling to afford critical repairs, the city might have a solution. The Healthy Homes Program is offering up to $100,000 in assistance to eligible homeowners. To qualify, your household income must be below a certain limit, and you must own and live in your Tampa home. The deadline to apply is August 2025, so don’t delay!

Meanwhile, Florida families with young children now have access to free swim lessons thanks to a new law. This program aims to reduce the state’s high rate of child drownings by teaching kids under four how to swim. If you’re a low income family and interested in getting free swim lessons for your child, here’s what you need to know.

In Lee County, families can get free back-to-school physicals and backpacks for their children at two upcoming events. A mobile health clinic will be offering these services at:

  • Mount Hermon Church on Saturday, July 27th, from 3-7 p.m. This event will also feature fun activities for kids.
  • Pine Manor Community Center on Saturday, August 3rd, from 10 a.m. to noon.

These events are a great opportunity for families to get their children ready for the school year while saving money on essential supplies and healthcare.

Georgia

Atlanta is stepping up its efforts to help families facing eviction. The city is giving an extra $2 million to the Star-C Corporation to continue its eviction diversion program, which provides assistance to low income families at risk of losing their homes.

The initial $2 million funding has already helped over 220 families avoid eviction, and more than 500 others have applied for help. This additional funding will allow the program to continue its crucial work, potentially preventing hundreds more families from becoming homeless.

If you’re struggling to pay your rent in Atlanta, reach out to Star-C Corporation to see if you qualify for assistance.

Hawaii

Kauai County has a new program to help low income residents, nonprofits, and small farmers get rid of old or unwanted vehicles. If you qualify, the county will haul away your vehicle for free.

To be eligible, you must be a resident with a very low income or a nonprofit organization that serves the Kauai community. This includes churches, community centers, and homeless assistance programs.

To apply, visit the county website and submit a request under “Public Works/Solid Waste.” This program is a great way to clear out unwanted vehicles and help the environment.

Illinois

Illinois residents struggling with medical debt may soon find relief thanks to a new law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. The Medical Debt Relief Act establishes a pilot program to purchase and forgive medical debt for hundreds of thousands of low income households.

Individuals with household incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level, or those whose medical debt exceeds 5% of their annual income, may be eligible. The program aims to alleviate financial strain and promote economic stability across the state.

Now that the bill has passed, the Department of Healthcare and Family Service now has to set up the pilot program. It is expected to start reviewing applications by January 1, 2025.

That’s the same day that another bill that Governor Pritzker signed will take effect. This other law will block credit agencies from listing medical debt accrued in Illinois.

In the meantime, seniors can receive up to $50 in SFMNP vouchers from the Illinois Area Agencies on Aging. You can use these vouchers to buy fresh local produce and honey from farmers markets across the state. These vouchers can be used between July 10 and October 31. You must contact your local Area Agency on Aging for details.

Iowa

If you’re an Iowan struggling after the recent flooding, you might be eligible for extra food assistance through D-SNAP. This program helps low income households who don’t usually qualify for SNAP (food stamps) get groceries while they recover from the disaster.

You can apply for D-SNAP between July 8th and 13th, 2024. Call 211 or keep an eye on local news for more information on how and where to apply.

Missouri

Many daycare centers in Missouri are struggling to stay open because the state is late on paying them for helping families with low incomes. The problem started with a new payment system that has been causing delays since December.

Some childcare providers are owed a lot of money and may have to close if they don’t get paid soon. This is causing big problems for families who need help paying for childcare, especially those with children who have special needs or are in foster care.The state says they’re working on fixing the problem, but it’s still not clear when the payments will catch up. This is a major crisis for Missouri families who need childcare and the people who provide it.

Nebraska

Heartland Bike Share, operated by ROAM, is offering a discounted membership program for low income residents. The program, called RCM, gives eligible community members access to the bike share program for just $5 a year.

To qualify for RCM, you may be eligible if you participate in federal or state assistance programs. This affordable option makes biking more accessible for transportation, exercise, or leisure activities.

Meanwhile, a new lawsuit claims the Omaha Housing Authority (OHA) treated low income residents unfairly. The lawsuit says the OHA hid information about a program that could have helped tenants lower their rent. Some tenants were even charged late fees and faced eviction when they couldn’t pay the full amount.

The people who sued are hoping for a jury trial and want to be paid back for the harm they suffered. This case is important because it could affect how the OHA treats its tenants in the future.

Nevada

Good news for Nevada workers! The state’s minimum wage is now $12 an hour. This change took effect on July 1st and applies to all employees, unless specifically exempt by law.

This increase is the final step in a plan that has been gradually raising the minimum wage since 2019. It’s a positive development for low-wage workers in Nevada, helping them earn a more livable income.

North Carolina

North Carolina is taking a big step to help residents with medical debt. The state government is offering hospitals more money if they agree to forgive old medical debts for low- and middle-income patients. Hospitals would also have to offer discounts to these patients and limit interest rates on any remaining debt.

This could be a huge relief for many people in North Carolina, where medical debt is a serious problem. If all hospitals participate in this new program, around 2 million people could have as much as $4 billion in debt forgiven.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is getting a new tech repair program with a twist! A local group received a big grant to train formerly incarcerated people to fix computers, phones, and other devices. This program, called ReConnex, helps people who were once in jail find jobs and learn new skills. At the same time, it provides affordable tech repair services for low income families who might not be able to afford expensive repairs.

Ohio

Families in Belmont County, Ohio who are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level can get help buying school clothes for their children through the 2024 School Clothes for Kids Program. The program is available at the Ohio Valley Mall and typically helps 1,500-1,800 children each year.

Applications are due by July 17th and can be submitted at Job and Family Services locations in Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville or online through the Belmont County Job and Family Services website.

Oregon

Great news for Oregonians! The state is expanding its Medicaid program to cover even more people. The new OHP Bridge Plan will provide free healthcare for those earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level. This means more people will have access to essential medical, dental, and mental health services at no cost.

If you think you might qualify, contact the Oregon Health Authority for more information. This expansion is a big step towards ensuring all Oregonians have access to the care they need.

Meanwhile, Klamath County residents can now get free help upgrading their old wood stoves to cleaner heating systems. This program aims to improve air quality and is available to low income households in the Air Quality Zone in Klamath Falls.

The program covers various cleaner options like heat pumps, propane, natural gas, and even EPA-approved wood or pellet stoves. If you’re interested in making your home more energy-efficient and reducing pollution, check out the Woodstove and Weatherization Changeout Program on the county website.

Tennessee

Good news for Memphis residents who need legal help: both Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) and West Tennessee Legal Services are now offering free legal assistance in the city.

This means more options and potentially easier access to legal aid for those who qualify. If you need help with a legal issue and have a low income, reach out to either organization to see if they can assist you.

Utah

Bad news for Utah residents! Rocky Mountain Power is asking for permission to implement the biggest rate hike in over 30 years. This change could potentially adding over $24 to your monthly bill by 2026.

But that’s not all. On top of this increase, the company could also charge an extra $3.70 per month for a new wildfire mitigation fund. This means your electricity bills could go up even higher in the future.

This is a major concern for Utahns, especially for those struggling to make ends meet. If you’re worried about these potential increases, consider contacting Rocky Mountain Power or your local representatives to voice your concerns.

Vermont

Vermont residents could now access more affordable healthcare under a new law that went into effect on Monday. This law standardizes how hospitals determine who is eligible for free or discounted medical care, also known as charity care.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the income requirements:

  • Up to 250% of federal poverty level: Free medical care
  • Up to 400% of federal poverty level: At least 40% discount
  • Up to 600% of federal poverty level: Maximum 20% of household income for medical bills

This means a family of four making $78,000 or less per year would qualify for free care, while those making up to $124,800 could get a significant discount.

Washington 

Seniors can apply for SFMNP in many areas of Washington until August 31. This program provides $80 in vouchers that can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and honey. In order to be eligible for this program, you must have a household income that does not exceed 185% of the Federal Poverty Level for your household size. You also need to be at least 60 years old, or at least 55 years old if you are a Native Alaskan or Native American. Apply with your local Area Agency on Aging.

West Virginia

West Virginia families can now apply for a $200 allowance to help buy school clothes or fabric for their children. This benefit is available for eligible students enrolled in West Virginia schools.

Families already receiving WV WORKS assistance, foster care payments, or SNAP benefits for children ages 4-18 who are enrolled in school and whose household income is under 130% of the Federal Poverty Level, automatically get the allowance.

Others may still be eligible, but there are income limits. A family of four cannot exceed a monthly income of $3,250.

You can apply online or contact your local Department of Human Services office. The deadline to apply is July 31st, so don’t miss out!

Wisconsin

Healthy Food For All (HFFA) is bringing back its “Buy One for a Neighbor” program, which makes it easier for low income families in Dane County to get fresh produce.

The program encourages shoppers at farmers’ markets to buy an extra item and donate it. These donations will be given to families in need right after the markets close. This simple act of kindness can make a big difference for those struggling to afford healthy food.

Relief Recap

This week’s Relief Recap reveals a mix of progress and ongoing challenges for low income individuals and families. As we navigate these changing times, it’s crucial to stay informed about the resources and opportunities available in your community. Remember, knowledge is power, and by staying connected and advocating for ourselves, we can create a brighter future together.