Low Income Assistance Programs in the State of Tennessee
The state of Tennessee has a population of approximately 6.5 million with a poverty rate of 18.3% which is one of the highest in the United States. The poverty rate among children is even higher at 25%. There is an astounding 1.1 million residents of Tennessee living in a state of poverty. Many single parents and families struggle with basic expenses and bills. Fortunately, there are many assistance programs in Tennessee to help the low income residents. This guide will list and explain the assistance programs available.
Financial Assistance in Tennessee
Many single parents and families struggle with the necessities needed for their families to live a normal lifestyle and are in need of financial assistance. There is some financial assistance available in Tennessee.
Tennessee Families First Program
The Tennessee Families First Program provides temporary cash assistance to help parents provide the necessities their family needs.This program also emphasizes and provides job training and education to help parents find higher paying jobs so they will no longer need cash assistance.
To qualify for this program you must be considered low income and have a child under the age of 19 living in your household. To learn more and to apply visit the Tennessee Families First webpage.
Tennessee Unemployment Insurance (UI)
The Tennessee UI program provides temporary financial relief to those who have lost their job through no fault of their own. The amount you will receive depends on your earnings with your most previous employer. You must be actively looking for work each week you are receiving benefits.
To learn more about this program check out the Tennessee UI webpage.
Food Assistance in Tennessee
There are single parents and families struggling to provide their family with adequate, nutritious food. Fortunately there are numerous assistance programs available.
Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Tennessee SNAP program provides food assistance benefits to low income households in Tennessee. The benefits are received on a card that works like a debit card called the Tennessee EBT card. The card is loaded with funds, simply swipe the card at the checkout with your food and you will be all set.
Tennessee Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The Tennessee WIC program provides food assistance, nutrition education, as well as health care referrals to pregnant, postpartum women, and their children up to age 5. In order to be eligible for this program you must be considered low income, and be deemed at a nutritional risk by a health care provider.
To qualify for WIC, you must meet the low income requirements.To apply for WIC you must first contact the WIC office nearest your location to set up an appointment.To learn more about WIC, you can visit the state of Tennessee WIC webpage.
Tennessee School Breakfast and Lunch Program
The Tennessee School Breakfast and Lunch Program provides free or low cost breakfasts’ and lunches to under privileged school children while they are attending school. The family’s household income along with household size determine if the meals are free or reduced in price. If you are already receiving benefits under the TANF program your child can automatically be eligible for this program as well.
To be eligible for this program you must meet the low income requirements. To apply for this program you must contact the school your child attends. To learn more about this program, visit the Tennessee School Nutriiton webpage.
Tennessee Food Banks
If you and your family are faced with hunger there are multiple food banks located throughout the state. The food offered is free of charge. You can use this list of Tennessee Food Banks to find a food bank in your area.
Medical Assistance in Tennessee
Medical costs are very expensive making it necessary for everyone to have some heath coverage. If you are of low income you can qualify for health coverage in Tennessee.
The Tennessee TennCare program (Medicaid) program provides free health care services to low income families across the state. It covers the cost of a variety of health related services including:
- doctor’s visits
- prescription drugs
- lab tests and X-rays ordered by doctors
- hospital care
- eye care
- dental care
TennCare eligibility is based on your income in relation to the number of people living in your household. Depending on you and your family’s specific situation, not all services will always be covered, or some services might require you to pay a portion of the costs. To learn more about the TennCare Program and to apply, visit the state of Tennessee TennCare webpage.
Tennessee TennCare for Children
The Tennessee TennCare for Children program (CHIP) provides health insurance coverage to children who do not qualify under Medicaid or any other health plan. The program covers all of the medical expenses that Medicaid covers, as well as mental health care and regular baby and child checkups.
Child Care Assistance in Tennessee
Child Care costs are quite high, making it difficult for low income single parents and families to afford quality child care. Fortunately there is child care assistance programs available.
Child Care Certificate Program
The Tennessee Child Care Certificate program helps pay a portion of child care costs to low income families in Tennessee. The program will pay a portion of the cost directly to the child care provider with the parent paying the remaining portion as a co-payment. If you are participating in the Families First Program you will automatically be eligible for this program as they go hand in hand.
To qualify you must be of low income. To learn more and to apply visit the Tennessee Child Care Certificate Program webpage.
Tennessee Head Start Program
The Tennessee Head Start program provides child care assistance and helps the readiness of young children from the ages of 0-5 by developing their social and emotional skills in a nurturing environment.
In order to be eligible for this program you must be of low income, meeting the income requirements. There are many different Head Start locations throughout Tennessee. To apply you must contact your nearest Tennessee Head Start Location.
Housing and Rent Assistance in Tennessee
Housing utility costs as well as rent costs are difficult for low income single parents and families to manage. If you are of low income you can qualify for one of the many housing and rental programs available.
Tennessee Low Income Public Housing Program
The Tennessee Low Income Public Housing Program provides residents of Tennessee with greatly reduced rent payments in housing arrangements owned by the local Public Housing Agencies in your area of the state. Most of the time, you will be placed in an apartment, however it can also be single houses or condos. Basically, the Housing Agencies receive funding from the state, who then use the funds to provide the low income with very low rent payments in safe and sanitary living conditions. To be eligible you must be of low income, usually set at 50% at the median income in the area you live, however this is just a guideline which needs to be discussed with the Housing Agency.
To apply you must locate your nearest Housing Agency, by using this list of Tennessee Housing Agencies. The Housing Agency will set up an appointment where you will discuss your income and more. To lean more visit the Tennessee Public Housing website.
Tennessee Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Tennessee Housing Choice Voucher Program makes it easier for low income single parents and families to be able to afford their housing of choice on the housing market by reducing their rent costs. This program is somewhat similar to the Public Housing program except with this program you get to choose your apartment/home. It can be difficult locating a well priced apartment that is large enough and high quality, so this program enables you to afford larger, quality apartments. Once you have chosen your home, the Housing Agency provides a voucher to your landlord which covers a good portion of your rent payments. You will only pay a portion of your total rent payment, usually 30-40% of the total rent cost.
This program also requires you to get into contact with your local Tennessee Housing Agency to set up an appointment and to apply.
Tennessee Affordable Apartment Search
The Tennessee affordable apartment search tool allows you to easily look for high quality, affordable apartments in your area of the state. Use this Tennessee Affordable Apartment Search to get started.
Tennessee Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The Tennessee LIHEAP program assists low income households with their energy costs by paying a portion of their energy bills such as heating and cooling directly to your energy provider. The amount of the energy costs that are paid on your behalf depend on your income and household size.
Tennessee Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
The Tennessee WAP program performs services to home to allow them to become more energy efficient, which will result in lower energy bills. The WAP program will check for air leaks in windows, fix and replace A/C units and more.
Tennessee First Time Home Buyer Programs
The Tennessee Development Housing Agency (TDHA) offers assorted programs geared towards those looking to purchase their first home. The Great Choice Program offers down payment assistance up to 4%, closing cost assistance as well as low fixed mortgage rates. Check out the TDHA website to lean more. For resources to more home ownership assistance programs click here.
Transportation Assistance in Tennessee
Transportation costs can be an issue for those who do not have a vehicle and resort to taxis and public transportation. There are more cost efficient alternatives available.
Tennessee Medical Transportation
If you have no ride to any sort of medical appointments or tests you can receive free rides to and from your destination. In order to receive the rides you must be enrolled under the BlueCare, or TennCare or the TennCare for children health programs. To learn more visit the Tennessee Medical Transportation webpage.
There are two unique driving services called Uber and Lyft that work like a taxi service, however ordinary people drive you where you need to go in their own vehicles. The prices are a lot cheaper than taking a cab, saving you good money over time. Check out uber.com and lyft.com to learn more.
Legal Assistance in Tennessee
Legal costs are very expensive making it difficult for the low income to have any access to legal services. Fortunately you can get free/discounted legal services in Tennessee.
Legal Aid Services of Tennessee
You can receive assistance legal assistance from non profit firms that offer free and discounted legal services to low income residents of Tennessee. There are multiple services that cover West, Southeast and all areas of Tennessee, and will provide legal assistance in many areas such as taxes, youth law, evictions, domestic violence, foreclosure and more. To learn more check out the Tennessee Legal Aid Services website.
As seen in this guide there are many assistance programs that can improve the quality of lives for the income residents of Tennessee. If you are of low income do not hesitate to apply as these programs are designed to help you live without poverty.
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