Low-income households sometimes need a little extra help to make ends meet. If you are struggling with your monthly bills, federal, state and non-profit organizations that can provide assistance. Some programs offer one-time help with a single payment, while others can help you reduce your expenses on a monthly or reoccurring basis.
If you need temporary assistance to help with your rent or mortgage payment, many national charities offer help in emergencies. Catholic Charities, Society of St. Vincent De Paul and The Salvation Army all assist families facing homelessness. If you are in need of long-term help with rent, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development runs the Housing Choice Voucher Program for low-income households. Public Housing Agencies administer the program on a local level. Through the program, you can find affordable private housing, such as a house, townhouse or apartment. You contribute a portion of your adjusted income, generally 30 percent and HUD pays the rest of the rent. For information, contact your local PHA.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides federal funding for states to help families with energy costs. Assistance typically is available during the summer and winter months when costs are particularly high, but in some states assistance is available year-round. Since each state administers its own program, the type of assistance available varies. For example, in North Dakota, the program pays a portion of the energy bill during fall, winter and spring months. The percentage the family pays is based on income. In Florida, a one-time payment is available for the year during the winter or summer months.
If you are in danger of having your utilities disconnected, you can contact a local charity or non-profit for help. Charities often partner with utility companies to provide assistance. In the Midwest, The Salvation Army teamed up with various energy providers to offer the Heat Share, Share the Warmth and People Care programs.
Lifeline is the government phone assistance program. Low-income households can receive a discount of $9.25 per month, as of 2015 . The discount is applied towards the local service portion of the bill only. Lifeline can be used for a wired home phone or wireless cell phone. To qualify, your income can't exceed 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Visit lifelinesupport.org to determine your eligibility.
- HUD: Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet
- Bridge to Benefits: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: About LIHEAP
- LIHEAP Clearinghouse: Florida
- FCC: Lifeline - Affordable Telephone Service for Income-Eligible Subscribers
- Need Help Paying Bills: Rental Assistance