Massachusetts is one of only four Commonwealths as opposed to states. “Commonwealth” comes from the notion that we are all in this life together, a notion that we are neighbors and that we look out for each other. If you, a family member, a neighbor or friend have fallen on hard times or are finding it difficult to “make ends meet,” the Commonwealth may be able to afford you assistance.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a number of programs to assist those in need with issues of food security, housing and heating, health care, education, and transitional assistance. For more information about eligibility and how to sign up for assistance programs, follow the links below or contact our office.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal nutrition program to help supplement your food budget and buy healthy food. SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs. SNAP benefits are given to you each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which works like a debit card.
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) is a state and federally funded program which provides cash assistance to families with children and pregnant women in the last 120 days of pregnancy, with little or no assets or income. Participants receive child care and transportation support associated with job assistance and can access referrals to substance abuse, mental health services, and domestic violence specialists.
- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) is a state funded program which provides cash assistance to those in need to stabilize their lives.
- The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, nutrition education and referrals to health care, at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are determined to be at nutritional risk.
- The School Breakfast and Lunch program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free breakfast and lunches to children each school day.
- Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) pays for health care for certain low and medium income people living in Massachusetts. MassHealth offers health-care benefits directly or by paying part or all of your health-insurance premiums. MassHealth offers different types of coverage based on your age, whether you are a parent, pregnant, disabled, HIV positive, or have breast or cervical cancer, and whether you work for a small employer. MassHealth will decide if you are eligible and give you the most complete coverage that you qualify for.
- Head Start is a federal program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
- The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
- LIHEAP is a fuel assistance program. Operating between November 1 and April 30, LIHEAP provides eligible households with help in paying winter heating bills. The program pays benefits of fixed amounts based on household income and size. This program provides assistance through a fixed benefit amount for the cost of the primary source of heat which includes, but is not limited to: oil, electricity, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, and coal.
- The Heating System Repair and Replacement Program (HEARTWAP) helps LIHEAP-eligible households with heating system repair and replacement services. The program is operational year round. Both homeowners and tenants are eligible. HEARTWAP contracts with heating system service companies to complete the work for eligible households.