The issue of low income affects many individuals and families across the United States and Virginia is no exception. For those facing financial challenges, navigating the complexities of government assistance programs can be overwhelming.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various assistance programs designed to help individuals and families with low incomes in Virginia. From providing financial aid during times of need to addressing essential needs such as housing, healthcare, utility bills and nutrition, these programs aim to provide a safety net for those facing financial hardships. Whether you’re a low-income senior, a single parent, a person with disabilities or someone struggling to make ends meet, these programs can provide crucial support.
Through a collaborative effort by federal, state and local agencies, as well as non-profit organizations and community partners, Virginia has established a range of assistance programs to address the diverse needs of its low-income residents. This guide aims to provide valuable information about these programs, their eligibility requirements and how to access them, empowering individuals and families to seek the assistance they need to improve their quality of life.
Financial and Cash Assistance
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded program that provides temporary financial assistance to eligible low-income families with children. It aims to help families become self-sufficient by providing financial support for basic needs, such as
- and utilities.
TANF is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). Find out more information at https://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/tanf/.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program that helps eligible low-income individuals and families afford nutritious food. SNAP benefits are issued monthly on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that can be used at approved grocery stores and farmers markets. The program is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). For further information, please visit https://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/snap.cgi.
Housing and Rent Assistance
The Virginia Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as the Section 8 program, provides eligible low-income households with rental assistance to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Participants typically pay 30% of their income towards rent, with the remaining portion covered by the voucher. The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) administers the program. Please read more information at https://www.virginiahousing.com/renters/housing-choice-voucher-program.
The Virginia Homeless Solution Program is a state-run program that offers financial assistance and supportive services to eligible individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. The program aims to prevent homelessness, provide emergency shelter and help individuals transition to stable housing. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers the program. To learn more information, please visit https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/vhsp.
The Virginia Medicaid Program is a state and federally-funded program that provides health insurance coverage to eligible low-income individuals and families. It offers comprehensive health benefits, including
- doctor visits,
- prescription medications
- and preventive care.
The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) administers the Medicaid program in the state. Read more information at https://www.dmas.virginia.gov/.
The Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan (FAMIS) is a state-sponsored health insurance program for low-income children in Virginia. Preventive care, doctor visits, and prescription medications are all covered under the program. For further information, please visit https://coverva.dmas.virginia.gov/learn/insurance-for-children/famis/.
Virginia Health Safety Net provides free or low-cost healthcare services to eligible uninsured or underinsured Virginia residents. In addition to primary care, specialty care, mental health services, and prescription medication, the program offers a variety of other services. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) administers the Health Safety Net program. Please read more information at https://www.vhcf.org/who-and-how-we-help/medical/health-safety-net-providers/.
Utility Bill Assistance
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to eligible low-income households to help with energy bills, including heating and cooling expenses. LIHEAP also offers assistance with weatherization measures to improve energy efficiency in eligible homes. The program is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). To learn more, please visit https://www.vawc.virginia.gov/vosnet/gsipub/document.
The Dominion Energy Share Program is a utility bill assistance program provided by Dominion Energy, a major energy provider in Virginia. It offers one-time financial assistance to eligible low-income households that are struggling to pay their energy bills. Share is administered by Dominion Energy. Find out more information at https://www.dominionenergy.com/virginia/billing/billing-options/energyshare.
Food and Nutrition Assistance
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program is a federal nutrition program that provides nutritious food, nutrition education and support to eligible pregnant women, new mothers and young children. WIC aims to improve the health and nutrition of low-income women and children during critical stages of growth and development. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) administers the WIC program in the state. Read more information at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/lenowisco/women-infants-and-children-wic-program/.
The Virginia Food Bank Network is a statewide network of food banks that offers food assistance to individuals and families facing hunger. The food banks distribute food to local agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, which then distribute the food directly to those in need. The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, Feeding Southwest Virginia and Central Virginia Food Bank are among the food banks in the network. Read more at https://vafoodbanks.org/.
Virginia Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) provides non-emergency medical transportation services to eligible low-income individuals who need transportation to medical appointments, treatments and services. The NEMT program is administered by the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). To learn more, please visit https://virginianavigator.org/program/54646/non-emergency-medicaid-transportation.
Education and Training Assistance
Virginia Career Works is a state-funded program that offers career development and employment services to individuals seeking education, training and employment opportunities. The program provides a wide range of services, including career counseling, job search assistance, training and education programs and support for job seekers with barriers to employment. Virginia Career Works has local offices across the state that provide personalized assistance. Please read more information at https://virginiacareerworks.com/.
Goodwill Industries of Central and Coastal Virginia is an organization with no profit that helps individuals and families in need by providing cheap clothes and other necessities. Goodwill operates thrift stores across Virginia where low-income individuals can purchase gently used clothing, shoes and accessories at discounted prices. Some Goodwill locations also offer vouchers or gift cards for clothing assistance. Read more information at https://goodwillvirginia.org/.
Dress for Success Central Virginia offers professional clothing, accessories, and career development assistance to low-income women seeking employment. As part of its job search assistance and career development programs, this organization offers free professional attire for job interviews and employment. Dress for Success Central Virginia serves the Greater Richmond area. More information is available at https://centralvirginia.dressforsuccess.org/.
Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia (LASEV) provides free legal services to low-income individuals and families in need. The organization offers legal representation, advice and education in areas such as housing, consumer rights, family law, employment and public benefits. LASEV has multiple offices across Eastern Virginia, serving residents in their respective communities. Read more at https://laseva.org/.
Virginia Legal Aid Society (VLAS) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income individuals and families in Central, Southside and Western Virginia. Housing, consumer rights, family law, employment, and public benefits are among the areas where the society provides legal representation, guidance, and education. VLAS has multiple offices across its service area, serving residents in their respective communities. Find out more information at https://vlas.org/.
Assistance for Low-Income Seniors
Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia (SSSEVA) provides services and programs to help seniors age in place and maintain their independence. These services include transportation, home repairs, nutrition assistance, caregiver support and legal assistance. SSSEVA serves seniors in the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach, as well as Isle of Wight and Southampton counties. For further information, please visit https://www.ssseva.org/.
AARP Virginia is a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of resources and programs for older adults, including legal assistance. AARP provides information, tools and advocacy on issues such as
- health care,
- social security,
- financial planning
- and legal rights.
AARP also offers a free legal hotline for members that provides legal advice and information on a wide range of topics. Find out more information at https://www.aarp.org/states/va/.