Assistance Programs in Florida – Get Help with Rent, Health, Bills and More
Florida unemployment benefits are capped by law and at just $275 a week, many people find it difficult to cover basic necessities, especially if it takes more than a couple weeks to find a new job.
Fortunately, there are public and private organizations and nonprofit agencies that can help if you are in a difficult financial spot. Whether you need help with your mortgage, utilities, food, health care or even childcare and other supplies, you will usually be able to find an organization near you to give you a helping hand.
Help with Healthcare and Medical Expenses in FL
In Florida, you may be eligible free or low-cost health care through the state’s Medicaid program through the Florida Department of Children and Families. In general, you may be able to get Medicaid benefits if you fall into one of the following categories:
- Parents and caretakers relatives of children
- Pregnant women
- Former Foster Care Individuals
- Non-citizens with medical emergencies
- Aged or disabled individuals not currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
You must also meet the following income guidelines:
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
You can check your eligibility using the Access Florida website; you can also apply for benefits online.
If you prefer, you can also apply in person at your local Access service center. If you have questions about how to apply or where to find your nearest Access center, you can also call the Access helpline at 866-762-2237.
If you don’t qualify for full Medicaid because your income is too high, you may qualify for the state’s Medically Needy cost-sharing program. The program basically limits your out-of-pocket health care expenses to an amount determined by your household size, income, and assets. Once you meet the cost-sharing threshold, Medicaid kicks in and picks up the rest of your expenses for the month.
For example, if your share-of-cost amount is $600 and you have an emergency room visit that costs $1,200, you have met your cost-share and will only pay $600, plus Medicaid will pay for any other covered health expenses you incur that month.
Keep in mind that not all providers accept the Medically Needy program or Medicaid, so be sure to check with your doctor before your visit.
You can find out more about the program and apply using the same website and Access service centers listed above.
Help with Prescription Drugs in Florida
Anyone in Florida may participate in the Florida Discount Drug Card program, which provides low-cost prescription medications to treat a variety of illnesses and diseases. You can apply by phone at 1-866-341-8894 (TTY Users Dial 711).
You may also use the state’s Prescription Assistance Program which can save up to 75% of the cost of many commonly prescribed medications. You can find a list of participating pharmacies and print out your discount card at FloridaRXCard.com.
Free and Low-Cost Health and Dental Clinics
If you make too much money to qualify for the Florida Medicaid program, you can still get health care, dental care, and prescription drugs for free or on a sliding-scale basis at one of the many nonprofit facilities and community health clinics throughout the state.
Most clinics serve individuals regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. In some cases, you may have to bring documentation proving your identity, income, and residence in order to receive services. It’s a good idea to call before you show up to find out what’s required, even if the clinic accepts walk-in patients. You may be asked to pay a small co-pay or fee based on your income when you receive services.
Here are some places to get care in the largest counties in Florida.
BROWARD COUNTY – FT. LAUDERDALE
5333 N. Dixie Hwy #201
Oakland Park, FL 33334
Hours of Operation
Tuesday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Friday 9:00am – 3:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 2:00pm
200 NW 7th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday:
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Tuesday: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Monday – Friday:
8:00 am – 8:30 pm
Monday – Friday:
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Monday – Friday:
8:30 am – 7:00 pm
*Last pick-up half hour before closing
Monday – Friday:
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Monday & Wednesday:
8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Third Tuesday of Each Month: 8am – Noon
DADE COUNTY – MIAMI
Services are provided at no cost and include general checkups, including lab work, gynecologic and breast cancer prevention,diagnosis and treatment for various diseases. They do not provide prenatal care, immunizations or medications.
7701 SW 98th Street
Miami, FL 33156
Phone: (305) 316-7444
ODHC is a primary healthcare center dedicated to serving the uninsured of South Dade at no cost to them.
The services provided include:
- Adult Care
- Women’s Care
- Pediatric Care
- Podiatric Care
- Diagnostic Services
- Educational Services
- The Prescription for Health Diabetes Program
- Women’s Health Program
- EnhanceFitness Program
- secondary healthcare by community volunteer specialist physicians.
151 NW 11 St. Suite W201
Homestead, FL 33030
Tel: (305) 246-2400
DUVAL COUNTY – JACKSONVILLE
The eligibility guidelines for We Care Jacksonville are as follows:
- Income at or below 200% of poverty level as defined by the Federal Government
- Patient carries no applicable insurance
- Resident of Duval County
- Age 18 or over
We Care refers patients to medical specialists that will see them for care at no charge.
Primary healthcare clinics refer patients to We Care for specialty services, such as:
- Diagnostic tests
- Specialist consultation
- Cancer evaluation and treatment
- Treatments and rehabilitation services
You can view a list of partner clinics here.
4080 Woodcock Drive
Building 2400, Suite 130
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Tel: (904) 674-6450
ESCAMBIA COUNTY – PENSACOLA
ECC offers medical and dental care as well as optometry. There is also urgent care on a walk-in basis and an after-hours nurse line.
14 W Jordan St
Pensacola, FL 32501
P: (850) 436-4630 | F: (850) 436-2095
Urgent Care Hours of Operation
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday
8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
After Hours Phone Line: (850) 436-4630
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – TAMPA BAY
There are 17 health centers in the Tampa area offering affordable health care services and financial assistance on a sliding scale. They also accept most government insurance programs.
Services include family medicine, internal medicine, adult and pediatric dental, pediatrics, women’s care, behavioral health, pharmacy, and family planning.
Visit the website to find a location near you or call 813-397-5300 to make an appointment.
ORANGE COUNTY – ORLANDO
Uninsured patients pay a sliding scale fee based on their income and the size of their family. It is recommended that you come in 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment to determine eligibility with one of our Patient Service Representatives. Please bring the following documentation to your appointment.
- Valid Driver’s License
- Social Security Card and Birth Certificate
- Proof of address (Example: electric bill, phone bill, etc.)
- Income tax returns for the past year with W2’s and Schedules OR
- Three (3) most recent paycheck stubs for each working member of the family OR
- Unemployment check stub or the determination letter
4930 East Lake Mary Blvd.
Sanford, FL 32771
11881-A East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32826
5449 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #14
Orlando, FL 32822
5730 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32807
400 West Airport Blvd
Sanford, FL 32773
Located within the Florida Department of Health – Seminole County
6101 Lake Ellenor Drive Suite #105
Orlando, FL 32809
True Health Express – Southside
6101 Lake Ellenor Drive, Suite 104
Orlando, Florida 32809
Opens Sept 19th
- Express Care
Cheney Wellness Cottage
2000 N. Forsyth Road
Orlando, FL 32807
- Dental for students
1120 State Road 436, Suite 1600
Casselberry, FL 32707
PALM BEACH COUNTY
2100 W. 45th Street, Suite A8/9
West Palm Beach
Free health care for the uninsured and underinsured. Basic health care services including disease management, family medicine, urgent care, physicals, and pharmacy.
PINELLAS COUNTY – CLEARWATER
707 North Ft. Harrison Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33755
PRIMARY AND SPECIALTY CARE OFFICE VISITS
- EKGs, labs, and x-rays
- Hospital procedures (as warranted)
- Pap smears and mammograms
- Care and nutrition, education and supplies
MEDICATION SERVICE (NO NARCOTICS)
- Acute and chronic medications
- PAP Enrollment
- Diagnostic exams
- Diabetic eye exams
- One-on-one counseling and group classes
- Sick visits
- Back to school physicals
Cash Assistance in FL
The state cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is available to very low-income families.
A person must pass all eligibility rules to get cash benefits. Some of the eligibility rules are:
Time Limits – Cash assistance is limited to a lifetime total of 48 months as an adult (except for child only cases, which have no time limit).
Work Rules – Some people must participate in work activities unless they meet an exemption. Regional Workforce Boards provide work activities and services needed to get or keep a job.
Income and Deductions – Gross income must be less than 185% of the Federal Poverty level and countable income can’t be higher than the payment standard for the family size. Individuals get a $90 deduction from their gross earned income. Individuals receiving benefits also get an additional earned income deduction as an incentive to get and keep a job.
Citizenship – Individuals must be U.S. citizens or qualified non-citizens.
Residency – Individuals must live in the state of Florida.
SSN – Individuals must provide a Social Security Number or proof they have applied for one.
Assets – A family’s countable assets must be equal to or less than $2,000. Licensed vehicles needed for individuals subject to the work requirement may not exceed a combined value of $8,500.
Relationship – A child must be living in the home maintained by a parent or a relative who is a blood relative of the child.
Child Support Cooperation – The parent or the caretaker relative of the children must cooperate with child support enforcement to identify and locate the parent(s) who do not live in the child’s home, to prove a child’s legal relationship to their parent and to get the court to order child support payments.
Immunization – Children under age 5 must be up to date with childhood immunizations (shots).
Learnfare – Children age 6 to 18 must attend school and parents/caretakers must attend school conferences.
Maximum benefits are as follows:
|Family Size||No rent||Rent $50 or less||Rent more than $50|
You can find more information on the TANF Fact Sheet.
Apply online at the My Access website portal or call 1-866-762-2237 for more information.
Rent and Mortgage Assistance in FL
It can be difficult to pay your housing costs when you are unemployed in Florida. The following resources are available to help you avoid foreclosure or eviction while you are looking for work.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers foreclosure prevention services through affiliated agencies and organizations in Florida. To speak to a HUD-approved foreclosure counselor, call 1-877-894-HOME (4663). These services are provided free of charge. It’s a good idea to call as soon as you get behind on your mortgage payments in order to have the most options to avoid foreclosure.
Florida is also one of the states that qualify for extra help under the Hardest Hit Fund.
Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) was directed by Treasury to use a portion of these special funds specifically for targeted unemployment programs that provide temporary assistance to eligible homeowners. These targeted unemployment programs—collectively known as the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund (HHF) program— are as follows:
- Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP) will provide up to 12 months of payments (with a cap of $24,000) to the mortgage lender to assist unemployed or underemployed borrowers with their first mortgage until they can resume full payments on their own. In addition, up to $18,000 can be paid to help satisfy all or some of any past due amounts owed; this assistance will be paid prior to the UMAP payments beginning and cannot exceed $18,000 total. Any past due amounts over and above the $18,000 are the responsibility of the homeowner. Total assistance available is up to $42,000.
- Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment (MLRP) Program will be used as a one-time payment to help satisfy all or some of any past due amounts owed on the first mortgage, only. This assistance cannot exceed $25,000 total, and any past due amounts over and above the $25,000 are the responsibility of the homeowner.
The only way to apply for these programs is through the Florida Hardest Hit Help site; you can also call 1-(877) 863-5244 if you need more information.
ASSISTANCE WITH RENT/EVICTION
The Florida Law Help website offers legal aid for individuals facing eviction. You can find lots of useful information on the website or you can search for a participating attorney in your area using this tool.
At the bottom of the page, under the Additional Resources by County section, you will find a list of nonprofit organizations who may also offer crisis assistance and help with rent or mortgage payments. Contact the agency in your area to inquire.
Help with Childcare and Education Expenses in FL
The Florida Office of Early Learning offers a School Readiness Program for low-income families or those who are unemployed and/or training for a job. Under the program, families qualify for subsidized care, before and after school care, extended day care and even year-round care, depending on the family situation, income, and age of the children.
For more information, and to see if you qualify, contact the Office of Early Learning:
Office of Early Learning
Florida Department of Education
250 Marriott Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32399
TTY/TTD: Dial 711
Help Paying Your Utility Bills in FL
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity administers the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in cooperation with energy providers in the state. The basics of the Florida program include:
- Depending on the funds available in your county, you may able to apply for help up to three times a year – but not every month.
- The program may help you pay your natural gas or propane bill only in the winter if you use gas or propane as your primary source to heat your home. If gas or propane is used only for purposes other than heating, such as hot water or cooking, the program can not pay for it.
- The program can not pay for water, sewer and telephone services.
- The local agency provider makes the payments directly to your utility company on your behalf.
Household Income Limits
You may qualify for help if your total household income does not exceed the household income limits listed below. The local agency will help you determine what is included as income.
People in Household
|For each additional person
over 8 people, add this amount
You must apply at the local agency handling LIHEAP in your area. You can find a list here. Call the your local agency and ask for the LIHEAP coordinator, who will take your information or provide you with application materials. The agency makes the determination whether or not you qualify for assistance and will make payments directly to your energy provider.
If you do not qualify for LIHEAP funds and you have had your utilities turned off, you can also contact one of the organizations at the bottom of this page under Additional Resources. They may be able to provide one-time emergency funds to assist you with your utility bills.
Help with Groceries and Food in FL
Florida SNAP (Food Stamps)
If you meet income requirements and have dependent children living with you, you may qualify for SNAP benefits. Single adults ages 18 through 50 generally can only qualify for SNAP benefits for three months in any three-year period. You must follow work rules to receive benefits.
In general, if you earn less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, you may be eligible for SNAP. Typical benefit amounts are as follows:
|SNAP Benefits by Household Size|
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Benefit,
Fiscal Year 2017
|Average Monthly Benefit, Fiscal Year 20151|
|Each additional person||$146|
You can apply for SNAP online at the My Access website or call 1-866-762-2237. You can also visit a Department of Children and Families partner facility near you to apply or for more information.
WIC provides vouchers for healthy foods and infant formula to low income families with children under age 5. If you are pregnant, you may also qualify for WIC. You can use this pre-screening tool to see if you are eligible.
WIC Income Guidelines
For a pregnant woman, each unborn baby counts as 1 extra person in the household size.
|Size of Household||Monthly Income Before Taxes and Deductions|
You can find the phone number of your local WIC clinic here. You can also call toll free 1-800-342-3556 and say you want to apply for WIC.
The local WIC office will give you a date and time for a WIC certification visit. At this visit, the household income and the medical/nutrition status of each applicant will be reviewed. On that day, you will find out if you and your children are eligible for WIC.
You can see a list of foods provided through the program in this brochure.
Food Pantries and Food Banks in Florida
Feeding Florida is a statewide coalition of 14 food banks that collectively provide food to some 2,500 food pantries and faith-based organizations. Over 325,000 Floridians get food from Feeding Florida every week.
You can find participating food banks by county using this locator tool. You can also use the main office contact for more information:
1489 Market Street
Tallahassee, FL 32312
Foodpantries.org is a website with information about all the community food pantries in the state; you can enter your ZIP code and find the programs nearest you.
If you need additional help providing meals and groceries for your family, the organizations listed in the Additional Resources section below may also be able to assist you. Call for information.
Additional Aid and Resources by City and County in FL
Examples of Assistance
- Rent for a working mom transitioning to self-sufficiency
- Mortgage for a family of 8, mother recently lost job
- Auto insurance for a husband who needs a car to provide for family
- Living expenses to help a working father support his family while wife looks for work and cares for autistic child
- Motorized wheelchair that will allow a disabled veteran to be self-sufficient
- Rent for a mother of 3 transitioning through divorce
- Utilities for a working parent experiencing shortfall in income
- Rent for a mother of 5 gaining workforce skills
You must be referred by a partner agency to get assistance from the Junior Welfare Society. Call 2-1-1 to find a partner agency near you or use this contact form on the agency’s website.
Hope provides emergency assistance in the form of cash for certain situations, plus a food pantry. They also offer camp scholarships for children and the LEAPS program, which is a before and after school enrichment program.
HOPE Outreach Center, Inc.
4700 SW 64th Avenue
Davie, FL 33314
DADE COUNTY – MIAMI
Services include crisis assistance, housing, homelessness prevention, and children’s programs.
1505 NE 26th Street
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
735 NE 125th Street
N Miami, FL 33161
JCS provides a wide array of children’s and family services as well as referrals to other agencies if they are unable to provide assistance.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY – PENSACOLA
Majors Ken & Linda Fagan
1501 North Q St.
The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency assistance with utilities as well as rent assistance for the working poor. Funds for medical care may also be available. Hot meals and a food pantry are also available.
This organization provides financial assistance for rent, mortgage or utility needs to families in crisis. Services are by appointment only; call 433-2333 between 9:00 a.m. and 11 a.m. Monday – Thursday. You may need to bring proof of identity, income, and crisis situation. You may also request an appointment online here.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – TAMPA
For rent, utilities, food, or back-to-school assistance, contact the Family Services department at:
813-226-0055 x 300
1603 N. Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL 33602
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Food distribution is every Thursday.
Services provided include medical services, rental assistance, and housing assistance.
1213 16th Street North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
Phone: (727) 893-1313
LEON COUNTY – TALLAHASSEE
The DEAP assists in meeting the emergency needs of residents of Leon County by providing financial assistance with rent/mortgage, utilities/fuel, food and medication. It is not an ongoing, long-term assistance program.
To apply to the DEAP program please contact one of the agencies listed below and set up an appointment;
Capital Area Community Action Agency at (850) 222-2043
Catholic Charities at (850) 222-2180
Salvation Army at (850) 222-0304
ORANGE COUNTY – ORLANDO
Catholic Charities provides food, homelessness prevention services, and access to health care to low income families and families in crisis.
1771 N Semoran Blvd, Orlando, FL 32807
Phone: (407) 658-1818
Fax: (407) 282-2891
Toll Free: 1-888-658-2828
Emergency financial assistance is offered on a limited basis. There must be an emergency, you must be a resident of Orange County for at least 1 year, and if you have received assistance from another agency within the past 3 months, it is possible you will not qualify.
All emergency assistance requests are handled by phone only at 407-423-8581 x26491
The Salvation Army operates several locations in Orange County and offers other programs including food and homelessness prevention.
The Salvation Army of Orlando
Address: Administrative Office –
416 West Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32804
PALM BEACH COUNTY
The Urban League offers foreclosure mitigation and children’s services as well as economic empowerment and referral services.
1700 N Australian Ave
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
Crisis services, food, legal services, housing assistance, and prenatal care are all available, as well as referrals to other agencies.
9995 North Military Trail
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410
Emergency food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance is available.
St. Petersburg Area Command
340 14th Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
1400 4th St S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
At its various locations, the St. Vincent de Paul Society provides emergency food, clothing, and financial assistance to families in need.
384 15TH ST. N
PETERSBURG, FL 33705-2016
DISTRICT OFFICE | 727.823.2516
FOOD CENTER | 727.258.0892
CENTER OF HOPE | 727.896.3300
THRIFT STORE | 727. 328.2730