The U.S. government offers assistance programs throughout its 50 states that help families in need access healthcare, rental assistance, nutrition services, energy assistance, and so on. The goal of these programs is to help families and individuals be healthy and live independently. Individuals can access many government assistance programs through their local Department of Human Services office or local community action partnership agency.
Children’s Health Insurance
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) collaborate to offer health insurance to children whose families do not have health insurance through their employment and who cannot afford to purchase private health insurance. According to Insure Kids Now (see References), a family of four with children that has an income of up to $44,000 per year is most likely eligible for these health insurance benefits. Benefits include coverage for doctor visits, prescription medication, immunizations, hospital visits and dental care. This program obtained additional funding in February 2009 to help ensure that children continue to receive high quality health care services.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers nutrition assistance programs that help mothers and young children, school-aged children and teens from low-income families, low-income seniors, and low-income families receive healthy foods without creating a hardship to their monthly budget. Benefits through these programs include food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), free and reduced lunch programs throughout the calendar year for homeless students and students from low-income households, and disaster relief assistance.
Renters and Homeowners Assistance
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers rental assistance through subsidized housing and public housing program, and through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8). HUD programs provide advocacy services to renters to help protect their rights. In addition, the Federal Housing Administration helps renters realize their dreams of homeownership by helping renters purchase a home, and assists those threatened with foreclosure find alternatives.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families meet their home energy needs for both heating and cooling. The funds offered through LIHEAP help pay for heating and/or cooling bills and energy crisis assistance, such as when the power to a home is shut off, and assist eligible homeowners to weatherize their home so they are more energy-efficient and do not pose health and safety risks. LIHEAP provides low-income families with educational programs that teach them how to stay warm during cold months safely without the use of dangerous appliances or items not intended for heating a home, like barbeques or gas grills.