Resources for Struggling Families
Below are details on seven types of services that are available to struggling families in the United States, and organizations that provide each of the services. Unfortunately, there was only one organization that provides each of the last two programs, Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income individuals with a debit card to purchase "eligible food in authorized retail food stores."
- Approximately 92 percent of SNAP benefits are provided to families with incomes that are at or below the poverty line. In 2018, 39.7 million people participated in "SNAP in an average month."
- Local SNAP offices and local Department of Human Services offices provide SNAP.
- Medicaid is a public health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health benefits to low-income families and "children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities."
- The program covers 75 million Americans.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Social Security Administration offices provide Medicaid.
3. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a monthly cash assistance program for low-wage families.
- Eligible families must either be pregnant or have children under the age of 19.
- In 2018, "1.2 million families, composed of 3.1 million recipients, received TANF."
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Family and Children Services provides TANF.
4. Energy Expenses
- There are federal programs that assists low-income families with paying heating and cooling bills, and save money on utility bills.
- One program is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps with energy bills, energy crises, and energy-related home repairs.
- To qualify for LIHEAP, families have to have an annual household income that's "below the maximum income level for your state and household size."
- The other program is the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program, which decreases "energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes." As a result, households have saved on average "$283 or more every year." The program has already helped "7 million families through weatherization services."
5. Free Phone and Phone Service
- The government program, Lifeline Assistance program, offers struggling families with phones and phone services for free.
- Individuals who qualify for free phones receive some sort of government assistance already, or who earns "less than 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for your state."
- Currently, 35 million Americans "qualify for Lifeline through their SNAP eligibility alone."
- Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, Reachout Wireless, and Budget Wireless partnered with Lifeline to provide free phones and phone services.
6. Housing Assistance
- Housing Assistance assists struggling families, seniors, and people with disabilities get into affordable private or public housing.
- The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides vouchers to "pay rent on single family homes, townhouses or apartments." The voucher amount allows tenants to pay no more than 30 percent of their income.
- In 2018, 5.2 million Americans received rental assistance from the government.
- Only the Public Housing Agency provides the Housing Choice Voucher.
7. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides "nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care" for low-wage "pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5."
- Out of 6.87 million people who received WIC benefits every month in 2018, about "3.52 million were children, 1.71 million were infants, and 1.63 million were women."
- Only WIC offices, which are located in local clinics, "community health centers, schools, hospitals, and local health departments" provide WIC.