Help Paying Bills for Low-Income Families: What You Need To Know
Many people renting apartments in America are paying around $240 per month in utilities. For those living in other types of homes, expenses can be much more.
It can be a struggle for some families to keep the lights on every month, and the above cost for utilities doesn’t even include things like rent, hospital bills, or car payments. Living is expensive.
Whether a family is struggling due to a loss of a job, an illness, or one of a hundred other reasons, anyone who has been there can tell you that it’s terrifying not knowing whether you can pay your bills for the month. Those searching for help paying bills for low-income families know it’s difficult to find consistent financial assistance.
For those needing help, we’re here to help with a guide below. You’ll find plenty of helpful resources to make sure your lights stay on.
First Step: Create a List of Costs
Before filling out anything for financial aid, create a list of costs within your household. This list serves several purposes. Include the costs for things like utilities, rent, car payments, doctor visits, vet visits, groceries, and baby supplies.
It first helps you to mentally organize yourself. Many of us don’t realize how much we spend on different pockets of our life, and it can be very helpful to see it all written down on a piece of paper.
Certain organizations giving financial help only allocate money to specific things, such as groceries or utility payments. If an organization asks you how much specific things cost for you, you’re already prepared with an answer.
Lastly, writing everything down will help you budget more effectively.
Being a homeowner is costly, and there’s financial assistance available for those struggling to make housing payments.
The first step in housing help is knowing your rights as a tenant. Read information from credible sources in your state regarding payments and evictions. Keep in mind eviction laws may vary by state.
Community Action Partnership
Peek at the Community Action Partnership if you need help with finding housing or making housing payments. It’s a national non-profit organization fighting poverty and houselessness.
Their site offers quick ways to find your nearest resource and provides needed contact information. You’ll also find plenty of anti-poverty resources, including resources on racial equity and financial empowerment.
Mercy Housing’s goal is to rid the growing issue of housing insecurity and houselessness. It helps families find affordable housing.
Much of their model centers around renovating homes and managing them in a highly affordable manner so low-income families can rent. They also build new, affordable properties for families.
Promoting inclusivity, their three values are respect, justice, and mercy. Learn how to apply through their application process.
Find Local Resources
The National Low Income Housing Coalition official site offers quick ways to find your local resources. Scroll through their database to find rental assistance near you.
While you’re looking at local resources, you should also check out resources provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This Federal agency enforces fair housing laws and improves communities. They also provide help in finding local housing counseling agencies.
Utility costs quickly add up. Almost everything we do at home requires electricity, especially if you’re working from home, and necessary things like broadband service can represent major expense.
Before diving too deep into help for paying utilities, start by calling your utility companies. Many companies offer financial assistance in the form of extending payment periods or providing small grants.
If your utility company isn’t able to help, we have some resources for you to investigate. You might also ask them if they can transfer you to any local resources.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This program aims to keep families warm in the winters and cool in the summers. They’re federally funded and can use those funds to help weatherize your home, offer repairs after emergencies, and aid in managing energy costs.
Weatherization is not something many of us think about, but it helps greatly when managing energy costs. The process of weatherization includes home improvements and repairs that help you save money on energy.
These improvements include sealing windows, installing insulation, creating more effective ventilation, and providing energy assessments for your home.
As you check out LIHEAP, look at the application requirements. You may also be asked to provide documentation regarding income statements.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is a federally-funded program that helps low-income families pay their utility bills and housing payments. States can use TANF grants to aid in giving cash assistance to families.
You do have to have children to receive help from TANF, and they promote the care of children in an assistance recipient’s own home. They also offer resources in job preparation and work to lower government dependence.
Their site offers quick ways to learn more about TANF in your state.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army’s HeatShare program provides help with energy to those struggling to keep their home warm. Typically, the Salvation Army teams up with local energy companies to help families in various communities in Minnesota and South Dakota.
Serving those mainly in Northern Indiana and Western Michigan, the Salvation Army also offers the Energy Assistance Service. This service helps with case management in the case of an emergency and helps to pay bills.
Even if you aren’t located in any of the above-mentioned regions, your local Salvation Army may be able to offer financial assistance for utilities, housing, and transportation.
Many low-income families are postponing necessary medical care or grappling with huge bills due to outrageous health care costs. Unfortunately, most medical companies aren’t the first to offer any help in paying them back.
Luckily, there are several resources willing to help with health care and medical bills.
The HealthWell Foundation
Under-insured patients with chronic illnesses may find themselves swimming in debt. Many times, the family has to take on this financial burden.
The HealthWell Foundation offers assistance with paying for things such as prescription co-pays, insurance deductibles, and travel costs to health care facilities. You can contact the foundation to inquire about resources available to your family.
While NeedyMeds may not be able to offer direct financial assistance, they offer plenty of resources to help you find assistance near you. They even offer resources for those struggling due to the pandemic.
Users can find information on brand name and generic medications, locate low-cost clinics near to them, and find other important and helpful health information.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics
Volunteers and staff work through the NACF to offer an array of medical services to low-income individuals. They focus their services specifically on those who are without insurance or have little to no access to health care.
Through their site, you can find clinics near you. There are over 1,400 clinics around the US willing to help you now if you aren’t able to afford medical visits.
Online Medication Directories
In addition to programs helping with providing affordable health care, there are also several online directories helping individuals find affordable medication.
Those struggling to pay for medications can check out Rx Assist. They’re a directory that provides information about medication companies that provide free and affordable prescriptions.
If you’re struggling to keep food on the table for your family, there are resources to help. Because program application processes take time, visit local food banks that may be able to help in the meantime.
You can also check with local religious organizations, because many of them run their own private food banks for their local communities.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
This program offers regular budgets to those needing to feed their families. It promotes balanced and nutritious food for a family’s children.
The requirements vary by state so make sure to contact your state’s SNAP program to clarify what they need from you. You can also look into how to use SNAP with grocery delivery services if you aren’t able to drive to a store yourself.
No Kid Hungry
There are a number of local resources to help keep your kids fed. You just have to turn to some helpful online directories.
One helpful online directory is the No Kid Hungry Meal Finder. Use it today to find programs near you. Keep in mind some of these programs have changed due to the pandemic.
Look for Help Paying Bills for Low Income Families Today
Times are tough for many people right now, but luckily, there’s plenty of help paying bills for low-income families available. There are plenty of local, state, and national resources available at your fingertips.
For help paying utility bills, check with programs such as LIHEAP and TANF. If you need some assistance with medical bills, check with the Healthwell Foundation and discount prescription directories. The SNAP program and No Kid Hungry offer assistance with providing food to your family.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for federal benefits such as SNAP, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.