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Help or Assistance Needed? The Art of Living Hand to Mouth

Updated on October 17, 2011

Modest Needs link


A help source for those that are disabled, down on their luck, laid-off, fired, divorced, single parents, underpaid and just plain broke—by someone who’s been there and done that.

Enter 2011, a mildly recovering recession, high unemployment, low wages. People are trying to find ways to make ends meet. Back in 2007, my sister was making a six-figure income in the mortgage business. She was single, successful, had a Bachelor’s degree and no children. Life was good. Then the mortgage business went sour. She lost two homes to foreclosure and is now staying with my parents. It is a way of life that has become the norm for a lot of people. There are people out there now that are applying for assistance for the first time in their lives.

I have been lucky (or unlucky) enough to have had to get assistance from various venues to make ends meet for several years. Even while holding down a full time job. But with five kids, even $35K is not a lot of money. So since I have been off work due to disability this year, (now getting less than $18K) I desperately need to find something positive to do with my time for depression-sake (per my psychiatric nurse). I love helping people, so here goes.

First of all, welcome to my world. It is not lonely here in rock-bottom-ville. There are many of us here to connect with. Some people will never make it out, but please keep God or whoever you worship at the top of your list as you could very easily sink into depression.

Utilities/Landline Phones

A lot of people don’t know this, but most (if not all) utility and phone companies have either a reduced rate for low income people or offer some sort of discount on their bill. Each state participates in a federally subsidized program called LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). Each state disperses this assistance differently, so the first step is to go to the government website and click on your state to see if you qualify. Here is the link: For example, here in Arizona they will look at your income and the number of people in your family and basically put a chunk of money on your utility bill…no kidding. You must show proof of income and have birth certificates and social security cards for everyone and your utility bill. For the phone bill, simply contact your service provider and ask what they offer for low income people. You could also go through the Department of Human Services for your state if you receive welfare assistance.

You can also go to the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul or your local churches for utility assistance.


If you are under the U.S. figure for low or extremely low income, you could apply for Section 8. Yes, they have long waiting lists, but please note that if you are homeless and/or in the extremely low end of their figures, it will get you moved up on the list. First go to the US HUD website, and click on your state for more information. You can also do a Google search for Section 8 in your city AND surrounding cities. Even check on cities in another state. Here is the link to the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Each county also offers some type of transitional housing (formerly called the projects). You can check with your local government on transitional or subsidized housing.

Gas (For your car)

This is something that plagued me several times. I’d have an interview and no gas. Gas is something everyone needs from time to time and unless you know someone you could borrow a few dollars from, you’re screwed. Most churches may help with gas cards. You could also check out the Societyb of St. Vincent DePaul. They have volunteer members that work in church parish offices and help people. Here’s a link to their main website, from which you should locate a location that serves your zip code area:


Food is probably one of the easiest things to get help with. Of course you could apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called Food Stamps). Note that it is called “Supplemental”. This means that they only give you enough to supplement what you would normally pay for groceries in a month. It’s important that you shop wisely because they can go fast. Try to shop at places like Sams Club (yes, they take food stamps), where you can buy in bulk and make your money last longer.

Churches are always willing to help if they have a food pantry. There will mostly be dry and canned goods, but soup goes a long way when you don’t have anything to feed your kids.

Salvation Army also assists with food. Usually you are only allowed to come once a month or so. Be sure and check with your local Salvation Army and find out what the requirements are. You can find them in your local white pages or online. They also usually have a diaper bank and clothing bank. They may even have some toiletries there such as laundry and dish detergent or toilet paper and soap.

St. Vincent De Paul assists with food as well. They will either give you a food voucher to use at a local grocery store or food gift cards or a food box. They may have diapers as well. Always call first; they usually do a phone intake first to see if they can help you.

Car Repairs/Car insurance/Rent/Disability

There is a website stated about 2002 that helps families and individuals to pay such things as emergency expenses, medical bills for disabled people and for unemployed people who are going back to work. For eligibility requirements, check out their website. (There’s a link on this page.)

Also, if you have been unable to work for 12 months or longer due to a disability, contact Social Security Administration and file for SSI/SSDI. Here is the link:

Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have further questions. I will try to answer all of them as best I can. Living hand to mouth is all about being resourceful.

**Watch for my next hub, it discusses things you can do from home to earn supplemental income.***


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