There are new grants, financial assistance tools and programs to help low income Americans! We scoured this week’s headlines so that we can tell you about all the new programs and things you need to apply for.
In this week’s low income news roundup, we’re going to talk about the new Walmart+ EBT discount, as well as helpful programs that can assist with your housing, utilities, medical, and other expenses.
Walmart+ Low Income Discount
The retail giant Walmart has launched a 50% discount for its premium service, Walmart+. Now priced at an annual $49 or around $6.50 per month, the service provides benefits such as free shipping, savings on gas, access to the Paramount+ streaming service, and unlimited home deliveries for orders above $35.
In order to be eligible for this discount, you must be eligible for SNAP, Medicaid or another means-tested government program. This is similar to the 50% discount that Amazon offers low income customers through Amazon Prime Access.
Back to School Assistance Programs
With the new school year right around the corner, there are programs all across the country providing much-needed help with school supplies.
Let’s start with Tennessee, where an extra cash payment has already been sent out to 13,000 families under the Family First program. This funding is intended to ease the burden of purchasing essential school supplies and clothing.
Over in West Virginia, a similar initiative is currently accepting applications. If your children receive West Virginia WORKS benefits, you’re eligible to apply for a school clothing allowance. But remember, the clock is ticking and you need to apply by July 31. To get started, simply reach out to your local DHHR office.
Of course, there are free school supply events happening all over the country too. A great example is the event organized by Manos de Cristo. This organization will provide 1,500 children with new clothes, backpacks, and supplies, along with access to low-cost dental care, food resources, and more. Mark your calendars, it’ll be held at the North Austin YMCA in Austin, Texas, from July 25 to July 28.
For more events like these, check out our comprehensive School Supply Giveaway List.
Now let’s talk about a big step forward for Indiana families. Applications have just opened for the On My Way Pre-K grant program. If you’re a family of four earning up to $45,000 a year, you could qualify for this assistance. To apply, head over to the Indiana State website.
We’ve found another helpful program called Every Kid Sports that can help your child get out there and play. This organization is dedicated to covering sports registration costs for families who can’t afford them. You’re eligible if you are on Medicaid or SNAP. So, get your game face on and head over to their website and apply right away.
New Food Programs
On a national level, Senators Peter Welch of Virginia and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico are looking out for low-income college students. They’ve proposed The Food for Thought Act, aiming to launch a free meal program for students attending community colleges or minority-serving institutions. It’s exciting to see such initiatives aiming to provide relief and assistance to students.
Another exciting new proposal was made by Representative Marc Molinaro of New York, who proposed the Delivering for Rural Seniors Act. This pioneering program aims to channel federal funds to food banks for the creation of home delivery programs that can bring food right to the door of seniors all over the United States.
There are actually a few food-related announcements this week, so let’s go over those very quickly before we move onto housing and other resources.
In Oregon, a fantastic initiative is taking place at the Forest Grove and Cornelius Farmers Markets. Picture this: On the first Wednesday and first Friday of the month, you answer two easy survey questions and walk away with $20 in free food. But that’s not all – they’ve also launched a fresh Produce Prescription Program for those who qualify.
Over in Missouri, Joplin School District just scored a $3,000 grant, which is set to bolster their Snack Packs program. This program provides extra food for low income students to take home, ensuring they don’t go hungry over weekends and holiday breaks. This program reaches about 520 students each year.
However, it’s not all good news. In Washington, the Snohomish County Meals on Wheels program is in a dire situation. They’re on the verge of losing 20% of their funding – that’s a whopping $50,000 – which goes towards feeding low-income seniors. They’re now in a race against the clock to raise these crucial funds to prevent a scale-down of their services. Let’s hope they’re able to overcome this hurdle and continue their essential work.
New Housing Resources
A new study conducted by the University of Notre Dame has found that homeless prevention assistance is extraordinarily effective. Families and individuals who receive emergency financial assistance are a whopping 81% less likely to experience homelessness within six months. It appears this money helps long-term because recipients are still 73% less likely to experience homelessness after a year. And the community wins as well, with an average economic benefit of $2.47 for every dollar spent on emergency financial aid. So, the evidence is in – this approach truly works!
Let’s talk about some other new housing assistance programs that are popping up.
In Massachusetts, the Lift Up Homeownership Program has expanded to collaborate with four banks and credit unions in Franklin County. This initiative offers an impressive up to $50,000 in down payment assistance for low income first-time homebuyers from minority backgrounds. Head over to Greenfield Cooperative Bank, Greenfield Savings Bank, Freedom Credit Union, or Athol Credit Union to apply.
Down in Florida, Gainesville is offering a helping hand to low-income homeowners in need of some home improvements. If your roof has seen better days or your house needs some repairs, there’s help available through the Alachua County Housing Division.
If you’ve been affected by a natural disaster, there’s help for you too. FEMA is hard at work in several counties in Vermont, Governor Hochul of New York has announced $50,000 in grants for New Yorkers who need help fixing their homes, and American Samoa is benefitting from a new pilot program that makes it easier to get help from the Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants program.
All Florida residents can get a free hurricane inspection from My Safe Florida, as long as they own a site-built, single-family residential home or townhome. These inspections can help you be more prepared and even strengthen your home against hurricanes. Sign up at MySafeFLHome.com.
Lastly, let’s talk about some promising developments in affordable housing. New projects designed for low-income residents have been proposed in Anacortes and Pierce County in Washington, and Lewiston, Maine.
New Utility Assistance
Utilities are a major housing-related expense, so let’s talk about some utility-related resources now.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has issued an order that prevents utility companies from disconnecting your service for a period of 30 days if you’re actively seeking financial assistance. This move is designed to give you a buffer to secure help from resources like LIHEAP. All you need to do is inform your utility provider that you’re applying for energy assistance, and you’ll be granted 30 extra days to pay.
Down south in Louisiana, CLECO is shedding light on a brand new energy efficiency program aimed to help you keep cool and save money during the hot summer months. The Power Wise program is open to low income customers. Interested? Make your way to the CLECO website to apply.
If you live in Louisville, Kentucky, you may be able to get an extra $250 for your utility bills but you have to act fast! The government has announced the summer utility bill subsidy will begin accepting applications starting July 25. But here’s the catch – the application period ends as soon as the funds run out, or on September 22, whichever comes first. Apply right away so you don’t miss out.
Help for Veterans
We’ve also got some resources for our veterans today, too. Any veterans who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, or other toxic substances need to act fast. Time is ticking to claim your 12-month backdated compensation under the PACT Act. The VA is sounding the alarm because a critical deadline is coming up that could cost you a year’s worth of compensation.
Here’s how it works: If you get your application in by August 9, you’ll be granted 12 months of compensation, backdated to August 10 of last year – the day President Biden inked the PACT Act. But if you procrastinate till August 10, your claim will not be backdated and you will miss out on an entire year’s worth of backpay. That’s a lot of money, so don’t wait, head over to the VA website to learn more and apply.
And speaking of veterans, over in Williamson County, Texas, a new program has been launched to provide emergency financial assistance to vets in need. Veterans in this area can get help with rent, mortgage payments, utilities, food, even funerals. To access this, all you need to do is swing by the Veteran Services office situated in the Georgetown annex building. Be prepared to prove identity, income and residency.
But hold on – this help isn’t just limited to Texas. Lots of counties across the United States have similar initiatives, so do check in with your local or state veterans department if you’re a vet in need of assistance.
Outrageous Medicaid Denials
In healthcare news, South Dakota has expanded Medicaid to cover all low-income adults, making it the 39th state to do so. Enrollment is open, so apply right away if you’re eligible.
However… it’s important to remember that Medicaid isn’t flawless. A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General’s office found that private insurance plans tend to reject claims from low-income Americans more frequently. The investigators found that for-profit companies like Aetna, Molina, and United Healthcare consistently deny Medicaid authorization claims at higher rates. All these companies have a track record of denying over 25% of requests but Molina’s rates are particularly high. In Illinois, they denied 41% of requests – that’s almost half!
It’s not just a Medicaid issue, either. The same investigation found that Medicare Advantage Plans often reject claims that are, in fact, medically necessary.
Remember, though, you have the right to push back. If your claim is denied, challenge it. Appeal. Request a hearing. Collaborate with local news providers or advocacy networks to highlight the issue and advocate for change. Never underestimate the power of your voice.
Take, for example, the case of Bri Moss from Iowa. She had to appeal, with the assistance of two community organizations, before Medicaid in Iowa would approve her new insulin pump. Yet, she fought tirelessly for it, and ultimately, she won.
Other Low Income News Updates
Illinois’ state Supreme Court has ruled that the state can abolish cash bail, which kept low income people incarcerated while the wealthy easily bought their way out.
Michigan’s Genesee County is breaking down financial barriers for its low-income residents. Fees for obtaining birth, death, or marriage certificates are now waived for those with lower incomes, making it easier to get those essential documents when you need them.
This article reviews low income news updates from around the United States for the week ending in July 22, 2023. Among other things, we discussed the new Walmart+ discount, school supply giveaways, housing and utility grants, help for veterans and more.