New York is a highly populated state with a population of 20 million people. The poverty rate in the state of New York is currently at 15.9%, with the rate being even higher for children across the state. Fortunately, there are numerous programs available that will assist low income single parents and families no matter where you are located in the state. This guide will list and explain all the assistance programs available in the state of New York.

Financial Assistance in New York

When tough times hit any sort of financial assistance can prove to be a world of difference. New York has a few financial assistance programs available.

New York Temporary Assistance

This program provides temporary financial relief to those who are of low income across the State. If you are unable to work, cannot find a job, or do not make enough to keep up with your expenses, you might be eligible to receive the financial assistance. The amount you will receive depends on your income in relation to the amount of people living in your household.

In order to be eligible for this program, you must be a legal resident of New York state, and either be pregnant or have a child under the age of 18 living in your household. To apply you have to file an application with your local county Department of Social Services, or if you live in any of the 5 major boroughs of the state you have to file with your local job center. To locate your local Department of Social services, please click here. To learn more about temporary assistance and to fill out an application form, please click here.

New York Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance benefits will provide you with cash payments if you happen to lose your job through no fault of your own. The amount you will receive depends in large part with how much you made with your previous employer.

To qualify, you must have worked in New York in the past 12 to 18 months and must be able, available, and be actively looking for work when you are receiving benefits. To learn more about this program and to apply, please click this link.

Food Assistance in New York

No one should have to struggle with hunger in today’s world. There are a few good food assistance programs available in New York.

New York State supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

This food assistance program will cover the costs of nutritious foods to the low income residents of New York State. The benefits are received in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Each month the card will be reloaded with funds to allow the user to purchase nutritious foods. You will be able to use the EBT card to purchase healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, as well as dairy products and more.
In order to be eligible for this program you must meet minimum financial guidelines based on the amount of people living in your household. For example, a family of 3 would have to have an annual gross income of $26,100 or lower. For the full income guideline and to apply for this program, check out this New York State benefits page. In New York State the amount of the household’s total assets are no longer considered making it easier to be eligible to receive the benefits.

New York Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The New York WIC program provides numerous nutritious foods, nutrition advice, as well as health care advice for pregnant, postpartum women, and their children up to age 5. In order to be eligible for this program you must be considered of low income, and be deemed at a nutritional risk by a health care provider. The income guidelines are done in accordance with the amount of people living in your household. For example, family of 5 would have to have an annual income of $52,500 or lower. To take a look at the complete financial guidelines please click here. You must apply at a WIC clinic in your area. Use this WIC clinic locator to find a WIC clinic near you.

New York School Breakfast and Lunch Program

This program provides schools with nutritious foods to allow them to serve free breakfasts’ and lunches to children living in low income households. In order to be eligible for this program, you must be a resident of New York and be considered of low income. The income guidelines for this program are based on your income in relation to the number of people living in your household.

To apply for this program you must contact the school your child attends. For the income listing and to locate the school your child attends, please click here.

Medical Assistance In New York

Medical costs are one of the biggest and most difficult costs that people struggle to afford. Fortunately New York has a good medical system.

New York Medicaid

New York Medicaid is a medical assistance program for low income residents of New York state. This program provides free health care and services to qualifying New York residents in a variety of areas such as:

  • doctor’s visits
  • prescription drugs
  • lab tests and X-rays ordered by doctors
  • hospital care
  • eye care
  • dental care

Depending on you and your family’s specific situation, not all services will necessarily be covered, or some services might require co-pay. Eligibility for Medicaid is strongly based on your income levels in relation to your age, if you have children etc. The New York State Medicaid website features in depth income eligibility guidelines as well as everything you will need to know about Medicaid. The previous link also display how and where you can go about applying for Medicaid.

New York Child Health Plus (CHIP)

The New York Child Health Plus program is basically the Medicaid program for children. This program offers all the same free health care services listed above. In order to be eligible for this program you must have a child under the age of 19 living in your household, or be the primary caregiver of a child, and be considered low income. The income levels required for you child to receive CHIP are lower making it easier to qualify. Depending on your income you will either be covered for Child Health Plus A, or Child Health Plus B. The New York State’s department of health website has all the information need to apply for the Child Health Plus program, or you can begin the process on the website.

Medicaid Expansion – Affordable Care Act

Fortunately, New York state is one of the states that have adopted the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. The Affordable Care Act makes it easier for residents of New York to qualify for Medicaid, as the income levels required to qualify are lower. Check out this Obama Care Facts website to see how the Affordable Health Care Act works in the state of New York.

Child Care Assistance In New York

The costs of childcare can cause a financial burden on single parents and families in New York, there are a few programs available to offer assistance on this matter.

Child Care Subsidy Program

This program offers financial assistance to help with child care costs. If you are already receiveing TANF you will automatically be able eligible for this program. To learn more and to apply check out the New York Child Care Program webpage.

New York Head Start Program

This program will provide a learning environment for children ages 0-5 to help enhance their emotional, cognitive, and social development. This program is only available to low income families. You are eligible based on your household income compared to how many people live in your household. To look at the income limits and to learn more, please click here.

Housing Assistance In New York

There are some really useful housing assistance programs available to single parents and low income families for residents across New York. We all know how expensive rent can be in New York so fortunately there are some rent assistance programs that are available.

New York Low Income Public Housing Program

This program will allow residents across the state of New York to receive reduced rent payments in dwellings owned by the local Public Housing Agencies in your area of the state, whether it be an apartment, single houses or condos. The State of New York provides funding to local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs).These local housing agencies will then use these funds to provide the low income families or single parents safe and sanitary housing with rent payments that they can afford to pay. The eligibility for these programs is based on income limits set by New York administration and the amount of funding available.

To begin the application process, you must go through your local Housing Agency. This list of New York Public Housing Agencies provides an in depth list of all the Housing Agencies located across New York. Once you find the Housing Agency in your area, you can contact them to find out the specific income guidelines required, as well as any details or questions you might have about the program.

New York Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

This program is very similar to the Low Income Public Housing Program as your local Housing Agency will guide you throughout the entire process. This program also provides rental assistance to low income single parents and families by providing families with ‘vouchers’ that will allow them to only have to pay a portion of their rent costs. With this program you are allowed to choose your own living place to use the reduced rent vouchers. This program provides direct payments to your landlord, which pays a good portion of your rent payment with you paying the remaining portion of the rent. Many times you will only have to pay 30% to 40% of your total rent payment. Use this list of New York Public Housing Agencies to find the agency nearest you.

New York Low Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

This program provides financial relief to New Yorkers by paying a portion of their energy bills, primarily helping with heating and cooling bills. New York has really hot summers and really cold winters, so energy bills can be high year round for New Yorkers making it difficult for single parents and low income families to afford their energy bills. To apply for this program you must be considered of low income. This New York State HEAP webpage lists the income requirements as well as providing direction on where to apply for this program.

New York Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

This program helps to reduce the amount of energy your home will use, making your home more energy efficient, which results in low energy bills. Many homes in New York were built when energy was inexpensive, meaning the homes were not as energy efficient as they are now. To be eligible for this program you must be a resident of New York, and meet the low income requirements. This New York WAP webpage will display the income requirements as well as how and where to apply.

New York First Time Homebuyers Programs

The state of New York has a variety of first time homebuyer programs that will offer down payment assistance as well as low interest rate mortgages. This database provides a list of all these programs available in your area of the state.

Transportation Assistance In New York

It can be difficult paying for constant cab rides to get around the city. You can get free rides to medical appointments and also use services cheaper then taxi’s.

New York Paratransit Service/Access A Ride

These programs provide transportation for those who cannot use or access public transportation due to a physical or mental disability. To learn more and to apply please click this link.

Free Medical Transportation

You can receive free transportation to any doctors appointments, tests, and medical treatments you might have. There are a variety of these programs available that receive funding from the state of New York. This program is available to anyone receiving Medicaid. Check out this link for more info.


Taxis fares can be quit expensive across the state and especially in New York City. A cheaper alternative to finding cheap rides can be found by using Uber or Lyft. These driving services will take you where you need to go, as ordinary people will pick you up and take you to your designation in their own vehicle, thus allowing for cheaper fares which save you a good amount of money.

Legal Assistance in New York

The most basic legal advice and services can be very expensive making it difficult for many to receive any legal help. Fortunately, there are some free legal avenues you can consider.

New York Law Help Organization

This organization features a large database of discounted or free legal help that is available throughout the state of New York in many different areas. Many of the legal services provided helps with issues such as, domestic violence, immigration issues, employment issues, evictions, family law and more. Check out for a great database of information and resources for free legal services available at locations near you.

Legal Aid – New York

The Legal Aid Society in New York provides free legal services to the low income and needy across the five major cities in the state. Click here to find the legal services that are available to you.

As you can see there are many different assistance programs available to New Yorkers for many difficult situations you might find yourself in. If you are struggling financially, remember there is most likely some sort of assistance program that will help you get through difficult times, refer to this guide as often as you need to see what help can be available to you.

Extra Links and Resources

Find Local State Assistance Financial Help Programs for Single Mothers

Click on any one of the states below on the map (or via the table) to go to our local state assistance guide for that specific state