With a rich history, vibrant culture and breathtaking natural landscapes, Tennessee offers a unique blend of experiences that attract people from all over the world. However, many low-income families and individuals in the state struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living and limited job opportunities. Thankfully, numerous assistance programs exist to support and assist those in need. These programs offer financial and cash assistance, housing and rent assistance, health assistance, utility bill assistance, food and nutrition assistance, transportation assistance, education and training assistance and clothing assistance. Single parents, senior citizens and disabled individuals can benefit from these programs, which provide valuable support and resources to help low-income individuals and families improve their quality of life.
Financial and Cash Assistance
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded program that offers cash assistance to low-income families with dependent children. The program aims to help families achieve self-sufficiency by providing temporary financial assistance, job training and education. Eligibility is based on income and family size and benefits are limited to 60 months over a lifetime. To apply for TANF, visit https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/.
The Families First Program provides temporary cash assistance to low-income families with dependent children. This program is intended to assist families in becoming self-sufficient by offering job training and education, as well as aid in obtaining and keeping jobs. Eligible families can apply for Tennessee Families First through the Department of Human Services website. https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/families-first-tanf.html.
Housing and Rent Assistance
Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) offers several programs to help low-income individuals and families with housing needs, including the Great Choice Home Loan program, the Homeownership for the Brave program for veterans and the Hardest Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance program. THDA provides financial assistance for down payments, closing costs and other expenses associated with purchasing or renting a home. For more information, visit https://thda.org/homebuyers.
CoverKids is a state program that provides free or low-cost health insurance for children under the age of 19 who do not have access to affordable health coverage. This program covers preventative care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, dental, vision and mental health services. To apply, visit https://www.tn.gov/coverkids.html.
The Tennessee Disability Coalition is an advocacy organization that presents resources and support to low-income individuals with disabilities and their families. They offer assistance with accessing healthcare services, as well as other services such as housing, transportation and employment. To learn more, visit https://www.tndisability.org/.
Utility Bill Assistance
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides financial assistance to low-income households to help cover their home energy bills. They also offer crisis assistance for those who are in danger of having their utilities disconnected or have already lost their utilities. To apply for LIHEAP, visit https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/supplemental-programs/liheap.html.
Food and Nutrition Assistance
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program is designed to offer nutritional support to pregnant women, new mothers and young children. WIC provides vouchers for healthy foods, such as milk, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables, as well as nutrition education and counseling. The program is administered by the Department of Health. To find a WIC clinic near you, visit https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/wic.html.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance for food purchases to low-income individuals and families. Tennessee’s Department of Human Services administers the program. Food can be purchased at participating retailers using an EBT card. To apply for SNAP benefits, visit https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap.html.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services offers transportation assistance to low-income families through its Families First program. They provide help with transportation costs for medical appointments, job interviews and other essential needs. To learn more about the program, visit https://www.tn.gov/aging/our-programs/transportation-assistance.html.
Education and Training Assistance
Tennessee Reconnect is a program that helps adults who want to return to school or finish a degree by providing tuition-free opportunities at select Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and community colleges. The purpose of this program is to assist Tennessee residents who have completed some college courses but have not yet obtained a degree. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.tnreconnect.gov/.
Goodwill Industries is a nonprofit organization that provides job training, employment placement and other community-based services to low-income people in Tennessee. They also operate thrift stores throughout the state that sell affordable clothing and household items. Some Goodwill locations also offer vouchers for free clothing to individuals and families in need. To find a Goodwill location near you, visit their website at https://giveit2goodwill.org/.
Assistance for Low-Income Seniors
The Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program (TN SHIP) offers free, unbiased advice to low-income seniors to assist them in understanding and navigating their health insurance options, including Medicare. To learn more about the program and find a local SHIP office, visit https://www.tn.gov/aging/our-programs/state-health-insurance-assistance-program-ship.html.
Charitable Assistance Programs
Second Harvest Food Bank works to provide food assistance to those in need across 46 counties in Middle and West Tennessee. The organization runs a network of partner agencies and initiatives that assist in the distribution of food to low-income individuals. Second Harvest provides nutrition education and job training programs in addition to food aid. Visit their website at https://secondharvestmidtn.org/ for more information on their programs and how to get involved.
United Way of Greater Knoxville is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families in Knoxville. The organization provides various services and programs, including emergency financial assistance, affordable housing initiatives and workforce development programs. The 2-1-1 helpline, which provides information and recommendations for a range of community services, is also run by United Way. For more information, visit https://www.uwgk.org/.
The Salvation Army of Memphis and the Mid-South is a global nonprofit organization that provides a range of services to those in need, including food assistance, shelter and emergency financial assistance. In Memphis and the Mid-South region, The Salvation Army operates several programs and services to support low-income individuals and families. These include a food pantry, emergency utility assistance and rent and mortgage assistance. Visit their website at https://www.salvationarmymemphis.org/ to learn more about their programs and how to access their services.