Assistance Programs in North Carolina – Get Help with Rent, Health, Bills and More
If you’re without income, or your NC unemployment benefits income isn’t enough to cover your bills and provide for you and your family’s basic needs, there are government assistance programs and private organizations offering aid to help tide you over until you can find work again.
Help with Healthcare and Medical Expenses in NC
The North Carolina Medicaid program has several different “plans” depending on your situation.
Medicaid for Infants and Children (MIC) covers healthcare expenses for dependent children based on these income limits (accurate as of 2017).
|Family Size||Age 0 – 5||Age 6 – 18|
If your income exceeds the limits, you may also qualify for Medicaid with a deductible, which covers most or all of your family’s medical expenses after you pay a small deductible or copayment.
Medicaid for Pregnant Women covers obstetrical care and newborn care for families that qualify.
If you do not qualify for any of the NC Medicaid plans, your children ages 6 through 18 may qualify for North Carolina Health Choice (NCHC) which provides no or low-deductible doctor and hospital visits and prescription drugs with copays as low as $1.
For more information or to apply for Medicaid, contact the Medical Assistance Operations Section of the NC Department of Health and Human Services at 919-855-4050. You can also apply at your local DHHS branch office.
Please note that in North Carolina, non-disabled working-age adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid.
Free and Low-Cost Community Health Clinics in North Carolina
Most cities in North Carolina offer community health and dental clinics that provide free or low-cost medical and dental care to low-income and uninsured/underinsured individuals and families; in most cases, no one is turned away for care.
Here is a list of free or low-cost health clinics in the major cities in North Carolina:
3333 Wilkinson Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28208-5631
1918 Randolph Rd. Ste 670
Charlotte, North Carolina 28207-1110
3622 Central Ave.
Charlotte, North Carolina 28205
414 E. Main St.
Durham, NC 27701-3720
815 Broad St.
Durham, North Carolina 27705-4137
1301 Fayetteville St.
Durham, NC 27707-2325
102 N. Tarboro Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27610-2352
Telephone – 919-250-2923
1001 Rock Quarry Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27610-3825
Free Prescription Drugs in North Carolina
For individuals and families at or below 200% of poverty level who do not qualify for Medicaid or private insurance, the NC MedAssist program provides free prescription drugs to treat a variety of conditions as well as certain over-the-counter medications at no cost. You can check their website at the link for income requirements and information on how to enroll. You must provide proof of income including your most recent tax return to qualify.
Charlotte residents can visit the MedAssist office at 4428 Taggart Creek Road Suite 1010 in Charlotte or call 704-536-1790 for an appointment.
Non-Mecklenburg county residents can apply at a partner agency in their area; click here for a list of partner agencies. You can also call 1-866-331-1348 for more information.
Cash Assistance in NC
The North Carolina Work First Family Assistance program (part of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF program) provides emergency funds and monthly cash assistance, plus help with transportation, child care, work-training and other educational expenses. To qualify, you must have at least one dependent child living at home and have income at or below 200% of the poverty level.
You must visit your county’s Department of Social Services to apply; you can find location and contact information at the website link above or call 919-527-6300.
This is a work-focused program with a two-year time limit; individuals must be actively engaged in looking for work or preparing for a job through an employment training program in order to qualify.
NC Work First Family Assistance Program Eligibility Requirements
|Eligibility Requirement||What’s Needed||How Often|
|Identity||Passport, ID, other primary documents||At application or if questionable|
|Address/Living With/Living Arrangement||Valid NC driver’s license, lease agreement, utility bill||At application, review, change in situation|
|Age||Birth certificate||At application, change in situation|
|Kinship||Birth certificate, copy of court order documents||At application, change in situation|
|Citizenship/Alien Status||Passport, ID, other primary documents||At application or if questionable|
|Social Security Number||Valid social security card or number||At application – or until received|
Wages/Self-Employment Public Benefits/ Private Retirement Benefits/ Trust, etc.
|Wage stubs, verification from employer, tax forms, award letter||At application, review, change in situation|
|Assets/Resources||Ownership and tax records, bank and court documents||At application, review, change in situation|
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also provides emergency/short-term financial assistance to families in crisis to help with housing and utilities. The following conditions must be met to apply for emergency assistance:
- The family must have a child who lives with a relative as defined for Work First Family Assistance and who meets the age limit for Work First cash assistance.
- Total income must be at or below 200% of poverty level.
- Family’s statement is acceptable for citizenship and identity unless it is questionable. If in doubt, request appropriate verification.
The Benefits Diversion Program provides a single lump-sum payment equal to three months of Family Assistance Payments to families that quality. Call 919-527-6300 for more information or for help finding your local office.
The Salvation Army of the Carolinas may also offer one-time emergency cash assistance payments and material crisis aid to low-income families and individuals. You can search for your local office at the link or call 1-800-HELPING for more information.
Rent and Mortgage Assistance in NC
If you own your home and need help paying your mortgage, the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund offers 0% interest loans of up to $36,000 or three years of mortgage payments, whichever is less, to help you pay your mortgage while you look for a new job or attend a job training program. You have 15 years to repay the loan.
The fund also offers foreclosure prevention services and can provide lump-sum payments to your lender to help you bring your account current as part of your loan package.
(image via North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund)
You can also contact the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project, which works with HUD, if your home is already in foreclosure. This program provides free legal counseling and services to help you avoid losing your home, including loan modifications and repayment plans to bring your account up to date. For more information, call 888-623-8631.
If you rent your home and are facing eviction, you can contact the DHHS Emergency Solutions Grant program to get help avoiding eviction, finding transitional housing, and rehousing your family in a more affordable house or apartment. Contact Michael Leach for more information at 919-855-4991.
Legal Aid NC offers free legal assistance to low-income North Carolina residents who are facing foreclosure or eviction and also help with other employment and family law matters. You can find your local office at the link or call 1-866-219-LANC.
The North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness is a nonprofit statewide partnership that assists low-income individuals find affordable housing through its SOAR program. There is also help with transitional housing and shelter available in some local offices. You can contact them at (919) 755-4393.
Lutheran Services Carolinas has offices in several cities and counties in North Carolina. They may have programs in your area to provide emergency assistance to families facing eviction or homelessness, as well as short-term crisis funds.
The Salvation Army of the Carolinas offers transitional housing and help finding affordable living. In some cases, they can even help pay a security deposit for an apartment or rental home. Find your local office at the link or call 1-800-HELPING for more information.
Help with Childcare and Education in NC
If you need help paying for childcare while you look for a job or participate in job training programs, you may be eligible for state and federal grant assistance to cover all or part of your expenses. Funding is administered through the NC DHHS Child Development and Early Education Division’s Childcare Financial Assistance program.
Eligibility is based on a combination of factors, including income, family situation, and the cost of the childcare. Funding can be used for whatever type of childcare arrangement the family chooses, including daycare centers or in-home care
Childcare Assistance Income Guidelines Children Ages 0-5 or Special Needs
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$1,962||$2,655||$3,348||$4,042||$4,735||$5,428|
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$6,122||$6,815||$7,508||$8,202||$8,895||$9,588|
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$10,282||$10,975||$11,668||$12,362||$13,055||$13,748|
Childcare Assistance Income Guidelines for children ages 6-12
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$1,305||$1,766||$2,227||$2,688||$3,149||$3,610|
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$4,071||$4,532||$4,993||$5,454||$5,915||$6,376|
|Maximum Gross Monthly Income||$6,837||$7,298||$7,759||$8,221||$8,682||$9,143|
(Information via the NC Child Development and Early Education Division)
The Smart Start program, available through the North Carolina Partnership for Children, offers funding assistance for childcare and preschool programs for families who meet income requirements. Contact them at 919-821-7999 or visit the website at the link above to find the local partnership in your community.
The NC Head Start Program offers free preschool and child development services to low-income families. If you qualify for NC Work First, you automatically qualify for Head Start, regardless of income. To find a Head Start program near you, call 1-866-763-6481.
Help Paying Your Utility Bills in NC
Heat and Electric
If you need help keeping the heat on during the cold North Carolina winters, you can apply for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). This program pays your heating vendor a one-time payment to offset your winter heating bills. You must apply for the program between December 1 and March 31 in order to qualify for the payment. Check the website to find the administering agency near you or call 919-855-4800.
In order to qualify, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
In addition, most North Carolina power and electric companies offer low-income energy assistance programs.
Duke Energy’s Share the Warmth program works in partnership with local nonprofit agencies to help customers pay their electric bills. You can find your local partner at the link.
Dominion Power’s EnergyShare program helps families who have exhausted other state and federal assistance programs. The program pays energy bills and provides free weatherization and other services to help keep utility bills low. Find your local partner agency at the link.
If you live in Mecklenburg County, you can contact the Crisis Assistance Ministry to get emergency help paying your utility bills or get your utilities turned back on if they’ve been disconnected due to nonpayment. You can reach them at 704-371-3001 from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
The Salvation Army of the Carolinas may offer emergency assistance paying utility bills or getting disconnected utilities turned back on. Find your local agency at the link or call 1-800-HELPING for more information.
The NC Lifeline discount phone service provides a subsidy for low-income subscribers to help pay their cellular phone bill or land line telephone. Some carriers in North Carolina accept the Lifeline payment as payment in full for monthly service. You can find carriers in your area who work with the Lifeline program at this link.
Help Getting Food in NC
The North Carolina Food Stamp program is available to individuals and families who meet the following income requirements:
|FNSU SIZE||130% MAXIMUM GROSS INCOME LIMIT||200% MAXIMUM GROSS INCOME LIMIT||MAXIMUM BENEFIT ALLOTMENT|
|Each Additional Member||(+451)||(+670)||(+146)|
(Information via NC DHHS Food and Nutrition Services)
You can apply for food stamps at your local DHHS office; call 1-800-662-7030 for more information.
Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The WIC program is for families with children age 5 and younger and pregnant or nursing mothers. Benefits come in the form of vouchers that pay for essential food products such as infant formula, infant cereals, fruits, vegetables, and meats, and milk, cereal, bread, fruits, juice, cheese, peanut butter, eggs, and grains.
The qualify, you must meet the following income guidelines:
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
You can find your local WIC office here or call the DHHS Customer Service number at 1-800-662-7030.
Food Banks and Pantries in North Carolina
The NC Association of Food Banks is a state collective that provides free food; in 2016, they distributed over 180 million pounds of food and assisted over 1.6 million residents of the state. You can find your local food bank or partner agency at the link above or call (919) 582-2110 for more information.
Additional Resources by City and County
If you are unemployed in North Carolina and need additional assistance providing for you and your family’s needs, the following is a list of nonprofit and charitable organizations that may be able to assist you with cash aid, material assistance, and other services while you look for work.
Buncombe County – Asheville
20 Twentieth Street
Asheville, NC, 28806
ABCCM offers crisis relief services including material aid and cash assistance for rent and utilities. There is also a food pantry, soup kitchen, and clothing closet. A medical ministry provides free or low-cost healthcare. There are four locations in the Asheville area. Call for more information and to find the organization closest to you.
Catawba County – Hickory
245 E N Street
Newton NC 28658
Applications for crisis assistance are accepted Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Assistance may include financial help to cover your living expenses. Please note that you must bring the following items with you when you apply for aid:
- Photo ID and SS numbers for each family member, green cards, or other positive identification.
- Proof of all income (as applicable) and/or benefit award letters
- Most recent paycheck stub, retirement earnings, SS, or other earned income
- Explanation of benefits for SSDI and other disability payments
- Alimony and/or child support checks
- Section 8 Annual Certification Letter
- A copy of ALL CURRENT BILLS, EXPENSES and INCIDENTALS. You must show all expenses, not just the bill for which you are requesting assistance.
- A current bank statement showing the last thirty days of activity.
- Mortgage information if requesting mortgage assistance.
- Current lease and Landlord information, as required for ECCCM’s approved vendor list, if requesting rent assistance.
Other services include food pantry, new-to-you clothing, vehicle repair assistance, and help paying for prescription drugs.
Cumberland County – Fayetteville
701 Whitfield St.
Fayetteville, NC 28306
FUM offers emergency assistance to families in crisis. There’s also a food pantry and a clothing store, plus free personal care and hygiene items. FUM assisted 10,000 people in the Fayetteville area last year.
Durham County – Durham
200 E Main Street
Durham, NC 27701
The Crisis Services program offers everything from emergency financial assistance to help with rent and utility bills to food and transportation assistance and even medical care/prescription drugs. Services are available by appointment only.
410 LIBERTY STREET
DURHAM, NC 27701
Urban Ministries offers crisis aid and transitional housing as well as a food pantry and clothing closet and other referral-based assistance to help struggling individuals and families.
Forsyth County – Winston-Salem
319 Haled Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27127
Sunnyside Ministry offers cash assistance if you are facing foreclosure or eviction, as well as help with food, clothing, utilities, and medical care. You must make an appointment to apply and bring the following items to your appointment:
- Social Security or ITIN Card
- Picture ID
- A current piece of mail to verify address
- Documentation for the last 30 days of household income and receipts for bills that were paid (can use a bank statement).
Mecklenburg County – Charlotte
500A Spratt Street
Charlotte, NC 28206
The Crisis Assistance Ministry accepts appointments at the Spratt Street location for financial assistance with foreclosure or eviction, utility bills, and other necessities. Hours are Monday through Friday 8 am through 5 pm. There is also a free store at this location with clothing, shoes, and household goods. You may also qualify for a referral to the furniture and appliance bank, which is by appointment only.
Onslow County – Jacksonville
1201 Suite B Hargett St.
Jacksonville, NC 28540
The ECHSA offers short-term assistance for families struggling to make ends meet. Services include cash assistance, help with childcare, nutrition, housing, and veterans’ services. ECHSA serves residents of Onslow county from its Jacksonville office and has satellite locations in New Hanover County (call 910-762-0010 in Wilmington) and Duplin County (call 910-285-5331 in Wallace). Services are by appointment.
Wake County – Raleigh
1390 Capital Blvd.
Urban Ministries offers a complete continuum of services for families in crisis including a walk-in health clinic with medication assistance, food pantry, and emergency shelter. They also provide case management services and referrals to other local assistance organizations. Services are by appointment only, except the food pantry, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8:45 am through 12:45 pm. You must bring the following items with you to your appointment to receive services:
- Current Photo ID with full name and date of birth
- Proof of Wake County Address
- Acceptable form of ID for all family members to receive benefits
- Documentation of Income/Expenses for household