With unemployment rates still sitting comfortably at around 6 percent in September, financial security is still a far reach for many families in the US. If you are unemployed or you are relying on an irregular income to support your family, there are resources available to ease financial pressures. What you qualify for will depend on your circumstances however there are programs to assist in most areas concerning finances.
Below is a list of programs to help with paying some bills and reduce your costs:
SNAP: The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (EBT, food stamps) provides a set budget for families, based on income and need, to be used for food. The program has changed a lot over the years and families can now use a debit-type card to make their purchases. To qualify, youâ€™ll need to apply for benefits through the state in which you reside. The program is designed for short-term help (you must recertify every 6 months). To qualify, you must meet income requirements including a maximum income of just over $2500 per month for a family of 4.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD): If you need assistance paying your rent, you can apply for assistance through HUD. The program will pay a portion of your rent. You are still required to contribute to the rent, but the program takes into consideration your income compared to the total amount of rent you owe. HUD provides assistance for low income families, seniors, disabled citizens and emergency rental assistance. For more information on application details visit the HUD website.
Utilities: There are several options for getting help with paying your utility bills including the LIHEAP program. Low-income families can receive discounted rates on their gas, electric and water bills. Additionally individual utility companies may provide special assistance, including help weatherizing your home to reduce utility bills. You can also look into the HEAP program which provides financial assistance to offset the cost of utility bills.
Telephone and Internet: If you need help with your phone bills, you can apply for assistance through Lifeline. Lifeline provides a discounted rate on local telephone services. Usually this discount is about $15 per month and does not include long distance or caller ID. The program also provides access to affordable cell phone plans for families that qualify.
If you apply for assistance for your utilities, and are granted help, you will most always qualify for telephone assistance through Lifeline or another program. Some states also offer assistance through Linkup which can help reduce or eliminate the setup fee for your telephone line.
All of the programs listed above have income restrictions. The programs are designed to help families who are working or attempting to find work. Additionally, you may be required to attend a class or employment services to continue qualifying for financial assistance.
In addition to the above programs, there are many private charitable organizations that can provide additional assistance for emergency situations. To learn more about different programs available in the United States, check out firstgov.gov for links to a variety of Federal government agencies that can provide assistance.