In this week’s low income news update, we’re going to cover a lot of new programs. We’ll discuss the results of San Francisco’s guaranteed income program, how to get your TurboTax Settlement check if you’ve moved, the Build Housing with Care Act, the Family Self Sufficiency Program, the new free TVs from Teevee Corporation and so much more!
There are a lot of headlines that can affect low income Americans nationwide this week.
Guaranteed Income Program Results
Guaranteed Income Programs have been popping up all over the country over the last few years. These programs give hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars per month to low income families over the course of at least a year.
There are no strings attached to this cash assistance. Those who are selected can spend the money however they want.
Well, San Francisco was one of the first cities to do this and they released the results of their program this week. This is a big deal because a lot of people have said that these programs can’t possibly work, that people will just waste the money, that it’ll make people lazy or whatever… but that’s not what happened.
According to the results, the majority of the money went toward food and rent. The money was also used to pay for utilities, clothing, transportation, education, insurance and medical costs. The city has declared the program a huge success, and hopefully this will encourage other cities to start running programs of their own.
Triple Your SNAP Benefits
I’ve found some awesome programs that can help you TRIPLE your food benefits recently. I know I’ve been talking a lot about Double Up Food Bucks, but some states have amplified that so that you can actually TRIPLE your benefits.
For example, in South Carolina, the Healthy Bucks program will give you $15 in extra vouchers when you spend $5 in SNAP benefits! You can do this daily… which means you could turn the bare-minimum $23 food stamps allotment into $83 if you only used your SNAP card at participating markets. Just spend $5 per day, get that extra $15, and you can get an extra $60 per month through this program.
You can find programs in your area to help you double or triple your SNAP benefits in our nationwide directory.
More than 4.4 million Americans will receive a settlement check from TurboTax as a result of the settlement I told you about last week.
As promised, I reached out to the third party administrator in charge of sending those checks. I was told, “If you moved since filing your return, and have filed a change of address card with the United States Postal Service, we either already have your updated address on file or it is likely that the payment will be forwarded automatically to you. We… will not be processing address updates or reissue requests until all payments have been mailed and have allowed sufficient time for delivery.”
If you have not received your email or your payment by June, you can contact them at [email protected] to request that reissuance.
Build Housing with Care Act
Two federal legislators from Oregon have introduced a new bill called The Build Housing with Care Act. This act is actually really cool. It would connect child care with affordable housing by providing funding to construct child care centers inside affordable housing buildings.
The Act would also cover the cost of retrofitting existing low income housing to fit family child care centers. The bill would place priority on housing that exists in child care deserts and rural communities, so that the families living there can get access to child care. The bill would provide funding for more than 120 new child care centers, which would be a huge improvement for low income families.
If you support this initiative, be sure to tell your federal lawmakers to support The Build Housing with Care Act.
Family Self Sufficiency Program
JP Morgan Chase and other financial leaders have teamed up to support a program called Family Self Sufficiency. This program is designed to help low income households with one-on-one financial coaching and a managed escrow account. After five years, families will leave the program with an average of $8,100 in savings and a credit score that has increased by 69 points.
This program is managed by Compass Working Capital. According to their website, “you are likely eligible for the Compass FSS program if you receive financial assistance for housing, such as a Section 8 voucher, mobile housing voucher, or if your rent is based on your income.”
The program is rapidly expanding but appears to only be available in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Washington DC at this time.
Free TVs (with a Catch)
This next update is a little weird and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this. Would you want a free TV… if it came with a second screen dedicated to showing you ads continuously?
Pluto TV’s cofounder Ilya Pozin has created a startup called Teevee Corporation, which will produce TV sets that include a second screen exclusively for the purpose of showing ads. The TV sets will be free and the company will make money by streaming ads and informational widgets continuously on the secondary screen.
The company has not released exact dimensions yet, but Gizmodo reports that the TVs will be a “standard size” and that the advertising screen will be about the same height as a phone. The TVs are expected to be released later this year.
Get Help with Debt
I know that dealing with debt can be overwhelming. We’ve been getting a lot of messages lately from people who are being absolutely bombarded with harassing collection calls.
If you’re dealing with debt and want relief, call 866-530-9949 to reach our sponsors at CareConnect USA. They can help you contact your creditors, negotiate reduced payments, and even help reduce the amount you owe. They can also get those collection calls to stop.
Local Low Income News
Often, the most helpful programs we find are run locally. Since they aren’t relevant to everyone, we’ve divided that news up by state so that you can quickly and easily find the programs that can help you.
In Alabama, there’s still tons of money available to help with your heating and cooling bills. You can apply with your local Community Action Council.
In Alaska, a new documentary is highlighting the child care crisis in the rural parts of the state. The majority of Alaska is a “child care desert” and 61% of Alaskans cannot access child care due to licensure requirements that don’t make sense in the rural parts of the state.
The documentary is hoping to raise awareness of this and help people establish child care centers where they are needed most.
In California, low income Santa Barbara residents may be eligible for up to $15,000 in utility assistance through the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program. According to The Santa Barbara Independent, a family of four can earn up to $62,313 per year and still qualify for this.
The program will provide a one-time payment between $2,000 and $15,000 toward your utilities. It’s important to apply right away, because the city will be reinstating late fees in July and disconnections in September. It doesn’t look like you have to be late on those bills to receive that assistance.
Also in California, low income San Diego County families can apply for a one-time $4,000 grant through the Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow program. This program is designed to help low income families who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The application period opened this week, and you have to apply by May 21st. In order to be eligible, your household must have an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, which is about $30,000 for a single person or $60,000 for a family of four. Only 2,250 people will receive this grant, so if they receive more applications than they can fill the recipients will be chosen at random.
You can apply on the Jewish Family Services website – but please know that you don’t have to be Jewish to receive these funds.
In Florida, a new study by the Florida Policy Institute found that the state lost up to $5 billion or more in federal assistance by ending the Emergency Allotments early.
Since it’s notoriously difficult to find low income assistance in Florida, hopefully framing the situation this way will get the attention of local lawmakers and encourage them to participate in programs that help their residents and their economy.
In Georgia, the summer cooling assistance program has opened for all low income households. In order to be eligible, you must pay cooling bills (usually an electric bill), you must meet income limits and be a US citizen or a non-citizen admitted for lawful permanent residence.
In order to apply, you need to contact the Community Action Council for your county.
In Hawaii, a new bill has been passed that would increase low income tax breaks. They’ve doubled the maximum state earned income tax credit, doubled the food excise tax credit, and increased the child and dependent care tax credit as well.
It’s just waiting for the governor’s signature, but the governor has already said that he supports these measures. Earlier this year, he said that “every family of four could expect to get $2,000 in tax relief under this plan.”
In Iowa, Polk County has introduced a down payment assistance program for low income homebuyers. The county will loan you up to $30,000 with a 0% interest rate toward the purchase of your home. The loan does not have to be repaid until the home is sold, refinanced, or until the home is no longer your primary residence. You can apply with a participating mortgage lender, such as Neighborhood Finance Corp.
Also in Iowa, a new reentry house is being remodeled in Iowa City. The home, which is located at 719 Page St., will provide housing for six low income men for up to two years after their release from incarceration. The house will also provide on-site case management and supportive services to help with their reentry process.
In Kansas, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program will be distributing $50 in coupons for free fruits and vegetables to seniors.
In order to be eligible, you must be at least 60 years old (or at least 55 years old if you’re a member of an Indian Tribal Organization) and meet income limits. The income limits are currently about $27,000 per year for a single person, which is about $2,248.
You can apply starting June 1 with your local County Health Department.
In Massachusetts, Somerville has extended their free taxi service program for low income residents. This program is called Taxi to Health and it began during the pandemic. This week, it was announced that the program will continue through October 31, 2024.
The program provides 12 free taxi vouchers at a time to low income residents. These vouchers can be used to help you get to the grocery store, the farmers market, food pantries, or medical appointments.
Residents can reapply every three months for 12 more vouchers, meaning that low income residents can essentially get one free taxi ride per week through this program. You can appy online.
Also in Massachusetts, the Volunteer Lawyers Project is helping low income landlords. They can help process financial assistance applications and provide supportive services. In order to be eligible, you must be a Massachusetts resident who is renting out part of a home you live in. You must also meet certain income limits. The service is free for anyone who earns 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or less.
In Michigan, the Kalamazoo Humane Society launched a new program this week called VetReach Kalamazoo. The program is funded by grants and seeks to provide affordable veterinary care, free wellness clinics, free vaccine clinics and low-cost spay and neuter services to low income pet owners in the area.
Their first event will be hosted on May 15 at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. The event will run from 1 to 5pm.
In Minnesota, a new bill has been passed that would provide free college tuition to low income students at public colleges and universities in the state. The plan is called North Star Promise and would help families who make $80,000 or less per year. Students would have to remain in good academic standing to continue receiving the scholarship.
Also in Minnesota, a free legal aid clinic for veterans will be held at the American Legion Post in Shakopee on June 1st. The clinic will run from 10am to 1pm. They will have Veteran Service Officers, attorneys and child support officers there to help provide assistance. It’s all free and you do not need to preregister.
The event plans to help veterans solve legal concerns, as well as get help with housing, benefits, debt collection, expungement, family law, taxes and other concerns.
In Missouri, state lawmakers are hoping to set aside more money to help pay for child care for low income families. The bill is waiting for the governor’s signature.
In New York, you may be able to get a free air conditioner! In order to be eligible, you must meet HEAP income limits and have at least one household member that is over age 60, under age 6, or has a medical condition that is worsened by extreme heat. The income limits vary, but a household of four can earn up to $5,485 per month and still qualify for assistance.
If you are eligible, the program can pay for the air conditioner and the installation charges. Applications are open now and will remain open until August 31 or until funding runs out, whichever happens first.
If you live in New York City, you can apply online at access.nyc.gov or by contacting your local HRA Benefit Access Center. If you are outside New York City, you will need to contact your local Department of Social Services.
In other New York news, a new low income housing tower in the Bronx has opened a housing lottery. There are 106 senior apartments available in the lottery. In order to be eligible, you must have at least one household member who is age 62 or older. You must also qualify for Section 8 and earn no more than $60,050 per year. Those who are selected will pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent for the studio and one-bedroom apartments. Applications are open until June 30. You can apply online for the Casa Celina Senior complex at housingconnect.nyc.gov.
Also in New York, the MTA has announced that they will provide a 25% toll discount to low income frequent drivers who earn less than $50,000 per year or who receive federal benefits.
In North Carolina, Pitt County residents need to know that the deadline to apply for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is May 31. This program will pay part of your water bill as long as you meet the income limits and pay for water. You do not have to be disconnected or at risk of disconnection in order to receive assistance.
You can apply at epass.nc.gov.
In Pennsylvania, the value of SFMNP has doubled this year. If you are a low income senior over the age of 60, you can get up to $50 in free food vouchers through this program. The income guidelines have also increased, so you may be eligible this year even if you weren’t eligible last year.
It is open now in most counties, but you need to contact your local Area Agency on Aging to get those vouchers.
In Washington, a new low income housing complex for seniors is being built next to the Sno-Valley Senior Center in Carnation. There will be 15 apartments available and they are expected to be ready next year. In order to be eligible, you will need to be at least 55 years old. Eight units will be reserved for those with very low incomes and another five will be reserved for low income veterans.
In Washington DC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is offering more assistance to low income riders. in their new budget. If you receive SNAP benefits, you will be able to get a discount.
In this week’s low income news update, we discussed a lot of things that can affect low income individuals and families across America. We discussed the results of San Francisco’s guaranteed income pilot program, as well as how to get settlement checks from TurboTax if you’ve moved. We’ve also discussed exciting new programs, like the Build Housing with Care Act, the Family Self Sufficiency Program, the Recovery Action Fund for Tomorrow and so much more!