Government Programs for Low Income Families

Family with baby

If you've stumbled upon hard times, you may feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully, this isn't true at all. In fact, many government organizations offer programs to low-income families to make ends meet. These programs are available to U.S. citizens with income levels that cannot cover basic needs. The assistance provided extends to health, housing, and food, as well as dental care, disability allowances, legal advice, and child daycare.


If you're struggling to pay your housing expenses and worried your family may wind up with no place to call home, there are a variety of programs available to prevent this from happening.

Section 8 Housing

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, helps low-income earners and their families with rental expenses. The program is managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and has helped millions of low-income families keep a roof over their heads. Under Section 8 housing assistance program, if you qualify, HUD will directly pay a housing subsidy on behalf of your family to your landlord. You'll then pay the difference between the subsidy and the total amount of rent due. The first step in the qualification process is to fill out a formal application.

Housing Assistance for Military Personnel and Veterans

HUD also offers mortgage assistance to active duty military personnel. You'll need to contact your military branch's legal assistant officer for more information on processes and procedures. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program provides low-income military veterans with rent vouchers to offset the costs of renting a home, as well as access to medical services through community-based outreach clinics. Qualifications vary, so the best place to start will be to call 877-4AID-VET for more information about the process.

Rent Help for Low-Income Rural Families

If you live in a rural community, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help pay your rent if you're experiencing housing problems. This assistance is a subsidy and is available through the Rural Development program. The USDA also provides housing assistance to the disabled and elderly, amongst many others. This is a special program that falls under the Section 8 housing assistance program, so the first step in the qualification process will be to apply online.

Energy Bill Assistance

With energy costs skyrocketing, heating your home during cold winter months and cooling it during the summer can result in energy bills that just aren't affordable. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps millions of families nationwide overcome this problem. To learn more, contact LIHEAP directly at 202-401-9351.

Health Care

As healthcare costs continue to rise, it's scary to think about what an unexpected case of the flu or a toothache can do to your monthly budget. Thanks to programs like the ones listed here, you will no longer have to choose between paying rent and taking care of health issues that arise.

Free Health Care Programs

The Health Resources and Services Administration provides low-income families with free health care access in all 50 states. To see if your family qualifies, start by reviewing the guidelines. If you do, accessing medical care is as simple as locating a qualifying clinic. Once you arrive, you'll fill out several forms prior to receiving the medical care you are seeking.

Dental Care

Many government and privately funded dental clinics offer their services for free. If you and your family qualify, you'll have access to free basic dental care, including checkups, referrals, and medications. Look up a complete list of contacts in each state online.


Food insecurity is a problem in the United States, with one in five children not getting enough to eat on a daily basis. Programs like TEFAP and SNAP are helping to address the issue so no parent or child has to go to bed hungry.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides low-income families and with access to food and nutrition assistance at no cost through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This program extends to the elderly and disabled, as well. You can look up a comprehensive list of TEFAP contacts online.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

Food stamps are available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help low-income families put food on the table, and a special program from women, infants, and children called WIC provides access to both food and medical care for families who qualify. To apply, you'll need to contact your local SNAP office.

Miscellaneous Other Programs

If childcare is draining your bank account, or you're being threatened with eviction, help is always available. All you need to do is reach out and ask for it.

Childcare Subsidies and Vouchers

The federal government provides grants and funding to states and local communities to help qualified low-income families access affordable day care services. To qualify, you must be employed, going to school, or enrolled in an approved job training program before taking advantage of the day care services offered under this program. Funding provided by the government only covers a portion of overall childcare expenses, however, which means you'll still be responsible for the difference. To see if you qualify and to find a local participating facility, call 800-424-2246.

Legal Advice

The federal government extends funding and grants to several law firms throughout the country, all of which are staffed by attorneys that can provide you with various legal services for free. These services are provided by Legal Services Corporation and cover everything, such as domestic abuse, utility shut-offs, filing for disability claims, and income maintenance to qualify for certain HUD programs. If you're facing a legal issue, contact a representative at 202-295-1500.

Don't Give Up

If you're struggling to make ends meet at the end of every month, there is hope. In fact, there are a variety of programs available that can help you with everything from housing and medical care to food and daycare. It's important to note you'll need to apply and qualify for eligibility and acceptance into each program, and the qualifications will vary with each program or even within each state.

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Government Programs for Low Income Families