Government Assistance for Low-Income People: How to Find Help When You Need It

Financial hardship is a daily part of life for millions of Americans. According to the United States Census Bureau, the poverty rate in 2019 was 10.5%, which translates to 34 million people.

If you’re living in the United States and your income is no more than 200% of the poverty rate, then you may be interested in finding government assistance for low-income people.

When start to do your research on the variety of programs available, there’s so much information available that it can get overwhelming.

How do you know which government assistance options are best? How do you choose which type of housing, health, or other assistance are right for you? These are tough questions, and that’s why we’ve put together this article. In it, you’ll learn about several different government assistance programs and how they work.

With these programs, you may be able to get support for you and your family that can help you live healthier, happier, and better lives. Read on to learn more.

Housing Government Assistance for Low-Income People

The US government has several options available when it comes to providing housing to low-income people. Some of these include the Public Housing Program, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Public Housing Program

The Public Housing Program is available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, otherwise known as HUD. This department provides money to public housing agencies throughout the country, who then create public housing for:

  • Families with lower incomes
  • Senior citizens
  • People with disabilities

To find out about public housing options in your area, contact the public housing agency, or PHA, in your area. Note that the process can take a little while, so you should check back with your PHA regularly about openings on their wait list for public housing.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

If you have a low income but want to have more choices when it comes to where you live, then you might benefit from the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program is also supported by HUD and run by your local PHA.

When you get one of these vouchers, you can use it to pay for an eligible rental property in your area.

Instead of moving into public housing, you can choose a property that may be a better match for you and your needs.

Just like you would with the public housing program, you should contact your local PHA to find out more details.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

If you qualify and need help paying your energy bills, you can take advantage of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, otherwise known as LIHEAP. You can get funding to make home improvements that will lower your energy costs.

Additionally, you can get help paying for your air conditioning and heating bills.

Low Income Food Government Assistance

The US government also provides low-income food government assistance. These programs include the National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the WIC Program.

Note that all of these programs are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture or USDA. To find out if you’re eligible for any of them, visit the USDA website.

The National School Lunch Program

If you have children who are at school and you have a low income, you can benefit from the National School Lunch Program. This program gives your children school lunches that are free or available at a discounted rate, which can help balance the costs of buying food.

The Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program

This program, also known as the SNAP program, is often referred to as the food stamps program. If you have a low income, you can receive a card through this program, which you can use to buy some of your groceries in certain stores.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program

If you’re a low-income senior citizen, you can benefit from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Through this program, you’ll receive healthy food every month in a package. This can help you ensure you stay healthy even on a low income.

The WIC Program

If you’re a mother with children, you can get assistance through the WIC program to get healthy food for you and your children. Additionally, you’ll get access to nutritional counseling and social services, welfare, and health programs.

Low Income Financial Assistance From the Government

If you need money, then there are low-income financial assistance programs provided by the government that you can use. They include the Supplemental Security Income program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

The Supplemental Security Income Program

To qualify for getting money through the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, Program, you need to not only have a low income but also be a person with a disability or a senior citizen. If you qualify, you can get cash directly through this program.

To learn more, go to the Social Security Administration website.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) is a critical lifeline for many people living in poverty. Through this program, you can get cash, job training, and child care. If you want to enroll in these temporary benefits, you can call your state’s TANF office.

You can also go in person to your county or local social services agency.

Medical Government Assistance for Low-Income People

When it comes to health insurance, there are two medical government assistance programs designed to help out people with low incomes. These include the well-known Medicaid program as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).


Through Medicaid, you can get access to health benefits for free or at discounted rates. This is available to anyone who meets the low-income requirements, as well as families with low incomes. To learn if you have Medicaid eligibility, visit the Medicaid website.

Children’s Health Insurance Program

This program, also referred to as CHIP, can help you if you have children and make too much money for your family to qualify for Medicaid. Note that eligibility for this program varies by state, so you’ll want to check out what the requirements are in yours.

Additional Types of Government Assistance

There are additional types of government assistance you can use if you have a low income or no income at all (if you’re unemployed, for example). These include unemployment insurance, low wages assistance, and student financial aid.

Unemployment Insurance

If you’ve lost your job and it wasn’t your fault, you can get unemployment insurance. This program is backed by both the federal government and your state government. Because it’s run through states, eligibility varies depending on where you live.

Usually, you’ll get these benefits for around 13 weeks during periods of high unemployment. Most states make it possible to file in-person, over the phone, and online.

Student Financial Aid

If you’re a low-income student, you can get financial aid for your studies through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. If you have a child going off to college, they can also use the FAFSA.

After using FAFSA, you can get access to work-study programs, student loans, scholarships, and grants.

Note that to be eligible for this type of student financial aid, you need to meet certain requirements. First of all, you need to demonstrate financial needs and be an American citizen (or be an eligible noncitizen).

Additionally, you need to maintain good standing when it comes to your federal student loans, be accepted into an eligible degree program, and maintain academic progress that’s deemed adequate once you start your education.

Now You Can Get Started

Now that you know about some of the different types of government assistance for low-income people, you can get started on your journey to a better situation. You can get help finding affordable housing through the public housing program and housing voucher program.

You can also get help affording the food your family needs, financial assistance, government healthcare, and other types of government assistance like unemployment insurance, low wages assistance, and student financial aid.

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