Every week, the Low Income Relief team gathers important news stories from different parts of the country. We put them together so you can easily find all the information that low income Americans need to know in one handy place. This week’s collection includes the following updates.
Nationwide Low Income News
Many things are going on in the national government that could affect low income Americans. It doesn’t matter where you live, the news we share in our Nationwide segment is important for everyone.
Student Loan Forgiveness Denied
Yesterday, the Supreme Court shut down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that the HEROES Act did not give the President the authority to implement that program. The Court stated that Congress would need to endorse a program like this.
Student loan payments will resume in October, according to the Department of Education.
Even though this forgiveness plan was not approved, there are other programs out there that can help you. For example, my husband had $50,000 in student loan debt eliminated through the Total & Permanent Disability Discharge program.
If you have student loans (or co-signed on student loans for your child or grandchild), you can call the Student Aid Relief Line for help. This helpline is staffed by student loan specialists who can help you navigate all of the different relief programs and help you determine what you are eligible for. The helpline is managed by our sponsor CareConnect USA. That number is 888-201-0431
According to President Biden’s recent press conference, there will be also be a 12-month on-ramp repayment period that will give borrowers protection from default. You will be expected to make those payments and interest will accrue. However, if you cannot make those payments, the company will not send you into default or refer your file to a credit agency for at least 12 months.
Senior Housing Resources
A recent study showed that more than half of California’s homeless population is over age 50. This study, which was conducted by the University of California, found that older residents are being consistently priced out of the housing market and pushed onto the streets.
As one expert who has been researching this observed, “the only solution to homelessness is housing.” America has a huge shortage of housing right now.
This week, HUD announced that the cap on loans for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program will be lifted. This is great, because it means more money will be available to help developers build and renovate more low income housing.
In the meantime, if you need assistance with housing, please call the Area Agency on Aging’s Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116.
Food Insecurity Rising
Around 26.5 million low income Americans have reported food insecurity between June 7 and June 19. These people answered that they either “sometimes” or “often” did not have enough food to eat during that time. That’s an increase of 4% from last month and an increase of 12% from this time last year.
This is a huge problem. Statistically, 26.5 million is about 8% of the population. That means that about 2 in every 25 people are going hungry.
Meanwhile, the programs that are supposed to provide food are experiencing catastrophic delays and, in some cases, lawmakers are just refusing to issue that help.
SNAP benefits have been delayed for months in Georgia. According to local news provider WJCL22, “a problem that started in November is still happening now, seven months later.” Families are experiencing delays that range from days to months, depending on their account.
In Pennsylvania, SNAP is running on time but the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is experiencing delays. According to New Castle News, a printing problem has stopped more than 2,000 eligible seniors in Lawrence County from being able to buy healthy food with those vouchers. The county hopes to send them sometime in July.
In Montana, the state has decided that it’s just too hard to send P-EBT payments so they aren’t even going to try this year. According to the Montana Food Bank, that’s going to leave about 73,000 kids at risk of increased hunger.
If you are experiencing hunger, please look for additional resources in your area. There are many programs that can help with food: SNAP, WIC, SFMNP, FMNP, the Commodities Supplemental Food Program and more. There are Double Up programs, food banks, soup kitchens and other resources that can help you. You can even help your food budget stretch farther at salvage stores or by using the FlashFood app. Please call 211 and ask what food resources are available in your area.
Students Losing Food Benefits
As the pandemic-era waivers wind down, the rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other benefit programs are going back to the way they were before. One of those changes is having a big impact on college students.
Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are expected to work at least 80 hours per month in order to receive food benefits. This rule is designed to ensure that anyone who can work is working while receiving benefits.
Unfortunately, that means that many full-time college students cannot receive food benefits. Pursuing higher education doesn’t count as work and many students find that they can’t maintain their grades while also working at least 20 hours each week. The income they earn from a job can also reduce other benefits that support their education, like Pell Grants.
The Hechinger Report found that the work requirements in programs like SNAP and TANF are perpetuating generational poverty by discouraging low income students from pursuing higher education. Even though getting a degree is statistically shown to increase how much money you will make over your lifetime, it’s not an option for people who can’t eat while also going to school.
As a result, some lawmakers are trying to change the work requirements for students. A group of 123 members of Congress are backing new legislation called the Enhance Access to SNAP Act of 2023, or the EATS Act of 2023. This new act would permanently remove the work requirements for college students, ensuring that students could receive food assistance as long as they are pursuing an education.
2024 COLA for Veterans
Every year, Congress has to decide whether veterans get a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase on their benefits. This is not something that happens automatically.
Fortunately, Congress passed the annual COLA bill with bipartisan support and President Biden signed it on June 14. That means that at the end of this year, all veterans who receive disability benefits, clothing allowances, and DIC benefits will see a COLA increase that is equal to the COLA awarded to Social Security beneficiaries.
The amount of that increase has not yet been determined. The amount of the increase is expected to be announced on or around October 1, 2023.
Persistent Poverty Initiative
The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a new initiative called the Persistent Poverty Initiative. The goal of this new program is to help improve cancer outcomes in low income communities.
A persistent poverty area is defined as an area where at least 20% or more of the population has lived below the federal poverty line for at least 30 years. That doesn’t mean that the same people have to be living in poverty that long. It just means that poverty measurements have to show that the area has consistently experienced high rates of poverty over at least three decades.
The reason this initiative is focusing on persistent poverty areas is because studies have shown that people who live in these areas are more likely to have bad cancer outcomes. They are more likely to experience cancer but they are also more likely to experience delays in getting diagnosed and treated for it. Thus, they are more likely to die from cancer than people who do not live in persistent poverty areas.
You can learn more about the Persistent Poverty Initiative on the National Institute of Health website.
Community Solar Expansion
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $7 billion investment into community solar programs. The goal is to expand solar power resources in low income and disadvantaged communities so that people in those communiites can also experience the benefits of solar.
Over the next several years, the agency plans to study these pilot programs to see if they produce at least 20% bill savings for these communities. The EPA is currently accepting applications from interested companies who want to participate in the Solar for All initiative.
More Farm Bill Updates
As we’ve repeatedly stressed, Congress is obligated to pass another Farm Bill by the end of this year. The Farm Bill is the legislation that controls food stamps and other food benefit programs. Each Farm Bill lasts for five years. The current Farm Bill expires this year.
Representative Stansbury from New Mexico has introduced some requests for the upcoming Farm Bill. She is specifically seeking additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides funds for food banks and other emergency food sources.
Don’t Forget These Deadlines!
If you missed one of our prior news updates, then there’s a lot of important information that you may have missed. Here are some upcoming deadlines and things you need to know.
July 31, 2023 – Google Settlement Deadline
Claim your Google settlement payout by July 31st! You need to either claim your check or exclude yourself from the settlement by that deadline.
If you used Google Search between October 25, 2006 and September 13, 2013, then you may be eligible for a settlement check. The check is expected to be worth about $7 per person. Apply here.
October 2023 – Student Loan Payments Resume
Student loan payments will resume in October. Call the Student Debt Relief line at 888-201-0431 right away to find out how you can lower those payments, keep them paused, or even pursue student debt forgiveness through one of the already-approved student relief programs.
Local Low Income News
We have numerous updates on local news this week! Take a look at the headings below and find your state by scrolling through.
The City of San Francisco has purchased five sites that will eventually be turned into low income housing for seniors, families and homeless people. More than 550 new housing units will be available when the renovations are complete. The new homes will be located in the Bernal Heights, Sunset, Potrero Hill, Alamo Square and Forest Hill areas.
The Los Angeles Public Library has Chromebooks and internet hotspots that you can check out for six months! All you need is a valid photo ID and an adult library card in good standing. We’ve got the scoop on this and other benefits in this article.
Also in LA County, applications are still open for the new Breathe guaranteed income program in LA County! You could receive $1,000 per month for three years if you are accepted into this program. Apply online.
In Stockton and Modesto, pet owners can get help from the ElleVet Project. This project comes into town every year to provide free veterinary care. Their 2023 event happened this week, but be sure to follow The Record and ElleVet so you don’t miss next year’s event!
The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley was recently affected by a ransomware attack. The firm has announced that over 40,000 people may have had their information compromised in this attack.
The Danbury Farmers Market Community Collaborative has received a significant donation to expand their programs. The grant will be used to provide basic health screenings and boost the market’s benefit matching programs that help low income customers buy more food.
If you need help with your utilities in Delaware, we’ve found some great ways that you can save money on your electric bill. From government programs to local charities that will help pay your bill, here’s what you need to know.
In Jacksonville, low income pet owners can get up to six pets spayed or neutered for free through SpayJax. This program completely covers the cost for low income pet owners. You will need to schedule an appointment with First Coast No More Homeless Pets by calling (904) 425-0005.
In North Naples, Habitat for Humanity has received approval to build low income condominiums. The mixed-use development will have 58 low income apartments.
In Miami, a new affordable housing complex is being built in Miami. It’s being advertised as a luxury affordable housing complex for seniors with “world-class amenities.”
Unfortunately, many seniors will find that the price tag isn’t that affordable at all. All 578 apartments will be rented to seniors who earn less than 60% of the Area Median Income, but that means that they expect residents to earn up to $49,560 per year.
The average price for an apartment is expected to be around $1,546 for a one-bedroom or $1,923 for a two-bedroom, according to Miami Times Online. These rates are still much higher than most seniors can afford but they are admittedly lower than Miami’s average of $2,937 for a one-bedroom apartment.
If you are interested, please follow Overtown’s Block 55 for updates on when that structure will be complete.
Georgia Pathways to Coverage is a new Medicaid program that eases up on some of the state’s strict Medicaid guidelines.
Adults who earn less than $14,600 may be eligible for coverage through this program. Eligible adults will need to complete at least 80 hours of work, job training or other qualifying activities (like volunteer work or community service) in order to maintain that coverage. Every month, participants will have to upload documentation proving that they met the work requirements. That paperwork will be due on the 17th of each month.
The state expects to enroll around 100,000 people in this program even though around 350,000 should be eligible. It’s important to apply as soon as the program launches. Applications will be found on the DCH website as soon as the program launches. It is expected to launch in July.
The USDA has partnered with Hawai’i Community Lending to make it easier for low income residents to purchase homes in rural areas. Assistance with home purchases and home renovations will be available through this partnership.
The Native Hawaiian home loans program can also help with home purchases and renovations on Hawaiian home lands.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has adjusted the income guidelines for WIC in the state. The new guidelines are a little higher, to help offset the effect of inflation. The new changes take effect on July 1.
Two new low income housing complexes have been announced in the Peoria area! Phoenix Manor will offer 55 affordable housing units for low income families. The Churchview Garden Homes will provide another 50 units for for those who are currently homeless.
Don’t forget! Applications open on July 17 for the six low income homebuyer opportunities in Fischer Village.
In Goshen, a new affordable housing complex has been completed. There are four one-bedroom apartments available for families that earn 60% or less of the Area Median Income.
Hamilton County seniors may be able to get help from Shepherds Center of Hamilton County (SCHC). This organization is working with the United Way to help meet the needs of area seniors. They offer several programs that can help seniors who are at least 55 years old with a variety of needs.
They recently distributed care packages valued at $35 each. These packages included personal care items like toilet paper, soap, shampoo and other items that cannot be purchased with food benefits.
The organization intends to distribute these care packages every three months or so. According to The Hamilton County Reporter, you can call (317) 674-8777 to connect with SCHC’s services for seniors.
Governor Kelly has continued to push for the state to expand Medicaid but the lawmakers in the state legislature have not moved. The Governor states that expanding Medicaid could make mental health treatment available for thousands of Kansans. She stated that she refuses to give up on the issue and is going to propose Medicaid expansion for the sixth time when the Legislature meets again in January.
The Perfetti Van Melle candy factory in Erlanger, Kentucky, is helping to process diaper packs and hygiene kits for low income families. These will be distributed by Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank to low income families in the Greater Cincinnati Area.
The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission has provided approval for a new low income housing complex. The development, which will be called The Villas at Lexwood, will be located in Lexington Park. There will be 40 townhomes available, ranging from one to three bedrooms.
The Job Corps is looking for low income youth between the ages of 16 and 24. They have immediate openings and free career training for eligible youth. The jobs are in high-growth sectors like manufacturing, construction, finance, health care, IT and more. Applicants may be eligible if they receive benefits through SNAP, TANF, NSLP or other programs. Homeless and foster youth are also eligible. Call the Job Corps at (800) 733-5627 for details.
If you live in Somerville, don’t forget to apply online for your free MBTA passes! The city is giving away 500 free passes to low income households. The passes last a year and are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Apply now!
The Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska is helping low income seniors connect with the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. This program provides two free boxes of food every month to those who qualify. If you are interested, you can request an appointment by calling 308-865-5683 extension 2.
In Reno, authorities have officially broken ground for a new housing complex called Dick Scott Manor. This building will provide housing for low income veterans. The building should be ready by next June.
Tops Friendly Markets have also expanded the number of stores that accept SNAP through the FlashFood app. This app can help you save 50% on food items from your local grocery store.
If you are an immigrant work in New York who has experienced wage theft, you may be able to use the Reclamo app to help you get those lost wages. This app was created by Justicia Lab and can help you understand your rights and even prepare your legal paperwork. According to MIT Technology Review, the app helps immigrant workers file their claims within an hour.
Undocumented immigrants can also get help with child care in New York City. This pilot program, called Promise NYC, will provide up to $700 per week in child care subsidies for undocumented children with low income parents.
The City of Raleigh is hosting a Homeownership Information Fair for anyone who is interested in purchasing a home for the first time. You can drop by any time during the event to learn about the City’s homebuyer assistance programs and other resources that can help you purchase a home.
If you already own your own home, the event will also have information about local home repair grants.
The event will be held on Saturday, July 15, between 10 am and 1pm at the Carolina Pines Community Center. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments and childcare will also be provided.
Oklahoma Human Services is now accepting applications for water assistance and summer cooling assistance! These programs can help pay your utility bills.
The cooling program benefits can be used to purchase cooling equipment like fans or air conditioners. It can also be used to repair your equipment or pay an amount toward your cooling bills. The maximum benefit is $150 per year through this program.
You can apply for both programs on the Oklahoma Human Services website.
Senate Bill 3 has officially passed through Congress. This bill will give Oregon high school students expanded access to personal finance and career path skills. The new finance education courses will include information on budgeting, building and managing credit, opening bank accounts, taxes and more. Courses on resumes and job applications will also be offered. These credits will be required for students who graduate in 2027 and after.
Governor Abbott has approved supplemental D-SNAP benefits for anyone who was affected by the severe storms that occurred between June 14 and 16. These benefits are intended to help replace food that was lost due to the extended power outages.
These extra benefits are available in the following counties:
You can request replacement food benefits by calling 211 and selecting option 8. Alternatively, you can print this form and mail it in. The deadline to request replacements is July 14, so make sure you apply by then.
In the HEB Area, a new food pantry is being built in Euless that will provide food, clothing and other resources to low income residents. The center, which will be run by the nonprofit 6 Stones, is expected to open in 2024.
The Low Income Relief team compiles important news stories from various parts of the country, making it easier for you to access all the information low-income Americans need in one convenient place. This week’s collection includes updates on nationwide low-income news, senior housing resources, rising food insecurity, students losing food benefits, student loan forgiveness denied by the Supreme Court, the 2024 COLA for veterans, the Persistent Poverty Initiative, community solar expansion, and more. Additionally, the post provides local news updates for different states, including updates on housing, assistance programs, events, and resources. Be sure to check the deadlines and upcoming events relevant to your area.