If you’re reading this article and in need of financial assistance, please take a moment. Breathe. Life can bring hardships, sometimes unexpected, and it’s important to know who you can ask for help. Those who have needed assistance before you have helped to pave the way with an array of amazing resources that are designed to provide relief when you need it most.
National Agencies with Local Affiliates
Here’s a list of several national agencies and databases that have programs throughout the US to help people facing tough times. Many of them will connect you with local programs that can offer direct assistance or provide you and your family with food, shelter or other essentials, while others have application programs right on their site.
Applying for these will be easier if you first put together a spending plan. It’s a good idea to have your last paystub as well as a copy of your most recent tax return and W-2 handy when you apply. You may find it helpful to keep a running list of who you’ve contacted and what you’ve learned, as you’ll probably need to provide a lot of the same information to each agency.
- Need Help Paying Bills – this site has put together a great collection of resources for all types of assistance programs, categorized and explained by type of assistance needed and available to you.
- United Way – find your local affiliate at this site to see who they partner with in your community.
- 211.org – access information about local resources and services.
- Community Action Partnership – search for your local Community Action Agency for local help.
- Salvation Army – click on ‘Get Help’ to be directed to local resources.
- Feeding America – find your local food bank through this site.
- Saint Vincent de Paul – find your local society and explore the resources available in your area.
- NFCC – for credit counseling help that won’t scam you, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
- LIHEAP – for state-based assistance with heating or cooling your home, find your state’s program on this site.
- WIC – to apply for nutritional assistance for you and your children, contact WIC through the federal government.
- US Government benefits – this site lists all the government programs that can help with food, housing, healthcare and other basic living expenses.
- Utilities – Most utility providers have programs funded by the United Way or donations by neighbors in your own community. Apply on their website or contact them directly for temporary assistance with gas, electric, and water utilities.
- Hospitals – Some offer assistance programs funded by donors, so ask the billing department if that’s an option. Don’t delay though; some have deadlines such as 90-180 days to apply.
- Prescriptions – if your situation is short term, ask your medical provider if they can provide free prescription samples temporarily. Most want to ensure you don’t neglect your health and will have some available. If longer-term, reach out to the pharmaceutical company; many offer patient assistance programs for free or discounted medications.
- Family & Friends – Asking for help can feel uncomfortable at first, but you may find that those closest to you are willing – even wanting – to help.
Remember to take things one step at a time, and don’t hesitate to lean on the resources you have available.