Need help right now? Here’s a list of some government programs that can help.

Did we miss one? Email us.

Help with housing

Help with your rent

Philadelphia has a program to help tenants who need rent assistance. To be eligible, you need to rent an apartment or house in Philly, have a current written lease signed by your landlord, and have lost income because of COVID-19. You also need to meet other eligibility requirements. Apply here.

Public housing

Public housing is government-owned, affordable rental houses or apartments for low-income families, people who are elderly, and people with disabilities. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Find out if you are eligible. Some of the factors: Your gross annual income, whether you qualify as elderly, if you have a disability, U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

If you need public housing help or want to find out about other housing programs such as housing choice vouchers, reach out to your local public housing agency.

Medical help


Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) help with pay medical costs for children of families who cannot afford health insurance or don’t get it through their work.

There are two ways to apply for Medicaid.

Contact your state agency:

Here is how to apply in New Jersey:

Here is how to apply in Pennsylvania:


General help

Stimulus checks

The CARES Act provides for Economic Impact Payments to American households of up to $1,200 per adult for individuals whose income was less than $99,000 (or $198,000 for joint filers) and $500 per child under 17 years old, or up to $3,400 for a family of four.

Finding status of your stimulus check

If you filed your 2018 or 2019 tax return and it has been processed, you can check Get My Payment for the status of your economic impact payment. Here is the link:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF is a federally funded, state-run benefits program, also known as welfare. Apply at your local or county social services agency:

Help with bills

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

LIHEAP helps families with energy costs.

To apply, either contact the local LIHEAP office. Here is a list of all offices by state.

Utility Emergency Services Fund

In Philadelphia, there is the Utility Emergency Services Fund. UESF provides assistance to families facing utility terminations or who are shut off. There are several other programs to help residents. Here is how to contact UESF:

Water Payment Program

Also in Philadelphia is the new Water Payment Program available for low-income Philadelphia residents. Starting July 1, the Philadelphia Water Department will offer a low-income assistance program that will offer payments based on household income, not water usage, making monthly bills more affordable and consistent. For more information, call the Water Department at 215-685-6300.

Help with food

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

To get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP benefits, more commonly referred to as food stamps, you must apply in the state in which you currently live and you must meet some eligibility criteria (which looks at things like your income).

Philadelphia programs

The City of Philadelphia maintains this list of where you can get free food and meals.

Help for business

The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act provides small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, veterans’ organizations, and tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. Apply here.

Help if you’ve lost your job

If you’re looking for a job
Unemployment benefits
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA is available if you haven’t been eligible for unemployment benefits, including if you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker.

Help for families

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program

New Jersey’s WIC is a preventive public health nutrition program that provides nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods, and improved access to regular health care and social services to low and moderate-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women and young children with, or at risk of developing nutrition-related health problems. Find out here if you are eligible. Apply through your local WiC agency or clinic.

In Pennsylvania, WIC services are available for women who are pregnant or had a baby in the past six months or 12 months if breastfeeding; infants and children under age 5; and fathers, grandparents and foster parents, who are the legal guardian of a child under age 5, may apply for WIC on their behalf. Here is the pre-application process in Pennsylvania.