Florida

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment

 

QUICK INFO BOX

  • Florida Food Assistance Program  – Monthly food stamp benefits that help people with low income buy food they need, Call: 866-762-22377
  • Florida Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) Provides cash assistance to families with children helping them become self-supporting, Call: 866-762-22377
  • Florida Optional State Supplementation (OSS) Program  – Provides monthly cash payments to indigent elderly or disabled individuals who must need assistance with the activities of daily living due to physical and/or mental conditionsCall: 866-762-22377
  • Florida Temporary Cash Assistance Relative Caregiver Program  – Provides monthly cash assistance to relatives who meet eligibility rules and have custody of a child under age 18, Call: 866-762-22377
  • Florida KidCare Offers health insurance for Florida children from birth through age 18Call: 800-821-5437
  • Florida Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical coverage to low-income Florida individuals and families , Call: 866-762-22377
  • Florida Temporary Cash Assistance Relative Caregiver Program  – Provides monthly cash assistance to relatives who meet eligibility rules and have custody of a child under age 18, Call: 866-762-22377
  • Florida Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 800-342-3556
  • Florida National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 800-435-7352
  • Florida Special Milk Program  – Offers milk at low or no cost to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 800-504-6609
  • Florida School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 800-435-7352
  • Florida Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 800-435-7352
  • Florida Child Care Food Program (CCFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children receiving day careCall: 850-414-1622
  • Florida Adult Care Food Program (ACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to adults attending adult day care centersCall: 850-414-2000
  • Florida Head Start and Early Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: Local program
  • Florida Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – Helps low-income families with home heating and cooling costsCall: Local LIHEAP provider
  • Florida Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: Local Weatherization Office 
  • Florida Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fresh local-grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh-cut herbs at farmers’ markets, Call: 850-414-2000
  • Florida Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income Florida residents lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Florida Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for low-income Florida residents, Call: Local PHA

 

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Florida Hardest Hit Fund (HHF)

Florida Hardest Hit Fund is the State of Florida foreclosure prevention program established with funding of the Federal Hardest Hit Fund program. As a result of the economic crisis Florida was one of the 18 U.S. States hit hardest by high unemployment and declining home prices. Under the Hardest Hit Fund Program the State of Florida was allocated more than $1 billion. This monetary help became available to Florida low and moderate income eligible homeowners through the Florida Hardest Hit Fund –  a foreclosure prevention program administered by Florida Housing Finance Corporation (HFC).

There are different housing programs under the Florida Hardest Hit Fund – all of which federally funded and designed to help Florida homeowners facing financial hardship.

Florida Hardest Hit Fund and its programs address the needs of low and moderate income homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments as result of the economic and real estate downturn. The programs provide monetary assistance that can be used by eligible Florida homeowners, on a case by case basis, for mortgage principle reduction, first mortgage reinstatement, unemployment monthly mortgage payments, and elderly mortgage assistance.

Florida Hardest Hit Fund Programs:

Florida HHF Principal Reduction (HHF-PR) Program

This option of Florida Hardest Hit Fund provides capital to eligible homeowners to help them reduce the outstanding principal mortgage balances, thus establishing affordable debt level and monthly payments. Principal Reduction of the mortgage is a direct monetary help to the qualifying Florida homeowners  providing up to $50,000 to reduce the principal balance of the first mortgage. A requirement for HHF Principal Reduction assistance is a mortgage balance greater than 125% of property ‘s Fair Market Value before the start of modification or refinance. The homeowner must not have assets (excluding retirement assets) equal to or greater than the amount of the principal reduction assistance.

In addition to the above, there are other requirements that must be met by a Florida homeowner with mortgage in order to qualify for HHR-PR assistance:

  • Applicant must be legal US resident/legal alien and  a Florida resident
  • The Home must be in Florida, Owner Occupied and Primary Residence
  • The Home must be Single Family 1-4 units attached or detached house or condominium
  • Property must have been purchased prior to January 1, 2010
  • The property securing the Mortgage Loan must not be abandoned, vacant or condemned
  • Must be current on the monthly mortgage payment
  • Must have an unpaid principal balance (UPB) that does not exceed $350,000 for the first mortgage
  • Total household income (including all persons living in the home age 18 years and older) must be less than 140% of the area median income (AMI)

For more information and how to apply call Florida Hardest Hit Fund information line at: 877-863-5244

Unemployment Mortgage Assistance  Program (UMAP)

Florida Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program is available to eligible homeowners who are unemployed, underemployed or have had at least a 10% reduction of income, and are experiencing a financial hardship. UMA will provide temporary monthly mortgage payments including principal, interest, and escrow expenses to eligible Florida homeowners who want to remain in their homes but experienced a loss of income due to unemployment or underemployment. Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program will provide up to 12 months of payments (with a cap of $24,000, whichever comes first) paid directly to the mortgage lender to assist unemployed or underemployed borrowers with their first mortgage with the sole purpose of helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. The maximum UMAP assistance per household is up to $42,000.

Florida homeowners who are delinquent on the first mortgage at the time they qualify for the UMAP,  can get up to $18,000 to help them pay all or some past due amounts owed. Any past due amounts over and above the $18,000 are the responsibility of the homeowner. This is additional UMAP assistance for delinquent homeowners, and is provided prior to the main Unemployment Mortgage Assistance, as per the program.

Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment (MLRP) Program

This option of Florida Hardest Hit Fund helps eligible homeowners reinstate their first mortgage loan if they have fallen behind due to short-term financial problems. Florida Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment offers up to $25,000 to qualified homeowners so they can catch up on their mortgage payments. In addition to help avoiding foreclosure, MLRP also helps borrowers by removing the need to capitalize the amount that needs to be reinstated and in a way increases their eligibility to refinance. This assistance cannot exceed $25,000 in total, and any past due amounts over and above the $25,000 are the responsibility of the homeowner. MLRP has been designed to help homeowners who have been unemployed, underemployed and experienced at least a 10 percent reduction in income, but now able to make their payments and sustain reinstated first-lien mortgage loan.

To apply for UMAP or MLRP :

  • Applicant must be legal US resident/legal alien and  a Florida resident
  • The Home must be in Florida, Owner Occupied and Primary Residence
  • The Home must be Single Family 1-4 units attached or detached house or condominium
  • First Mortgage is with a regulated financial institution and not seller-financed
  • The property securing the First Mortgage Loan must not be abandoned, vacant or condemned
  • Must have Monthly Housing Debt of more than 31% of the homeowner’s Gross Monthly Income
  • Must have an unpaid principal balance (UPB) that does not exceed $400,000 for the First Mortgage
  • Total Household Income (including all persons living in the home age 18 years and older) must be less than 140% of the area median income (AMI)

To apply and get details on UMAP and MLRP call Florida Hardest Hit Fund information line at:  877-863-5244

Florida Hardest Hit Fund Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program (ELMORE)

One of the housing programs created under the Florida Hardest Hit Fund is The Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program (ELMORE). The program addresses another almost unique to Florida problem – seniors who are in arrears on their reverse mortgage property payments as a result of the housing financial crisis. ELMORE is specifically designed to provide financial assistance to eligible elderly holding Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and who are past due on their property taxes, homeowner’s insurance or homeowner’s association dues and other property charges. ELMORE is providing up to $25,000 to eligible senior homeowners with revers mortgages to help them remain in their homes. ELMORE can be used to bring homeowners property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, and homeowners or condo association dues (property charges) current. Elderly Mortgage Assistance is provided to the extent to cover these property charges that have been paid on behalf of the senior homeowner by the servicer of their reverse mortgage. In addition, the elderly homeowner my be eligible to have up to 12 months of future property charges up to the $25,000 limit, paid by ELMORE as well.

To apply for ELMORE:

  • Applicant must be legal US resident/legal alien and  a Florida resident
  • The Home must be in Florida, Owner Occupied and Primary Residence
  • The Home must be Single Family 1-4 units attached or detached house or condominium or townhome
  • First Mortgage is with a regulated financial institution and not seller-financed
  • The property securing the HECM loan must not be abandoned, vacant or condemned
  • Total amount of the homeowner assets must be lower than $48,000
  • Total Household Income must be less than 140% of the area median income (AMI) adjusted for the household size
  • Homeowner must have suffered a hardship that has resulted in inability to repay the property charges accumulated by their mortgage servicer
  • Applicant must show a reasonable likelihood of recovering from the hardship so as to afford the future property charges on an ongoing basis

For all current details on eligibility and how to apply – call toll-free ELMORE Application and Information Line at: 800-601-3534

Application for all housing programs including the Florida ELMORE program is FREE-OF-CHARGE and you will not be asked to pay for any eligibility determination services in conjunction with applying for the Florida ELMORE program.

Florida – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Florida homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Florida homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.

Florida Housing Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program

The Florida Housing Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program allows first-time homebuyers to claim 50% of the mortgage interest they pay per year as a tax credit. The dollar amount of the annual tax credit cannot be larger than the annual federal income tax liability,  after all other credits and deductions have been taken into account, and the maximum allowed amount is $2,000 per year. Any remaining mortgage interest not included as part of the MCC tax credit is still eligible for the home mortgage interest deduction on the homebuyer’s federal tax return.

MCC helps first-time homebuyers in two ways: 1) allows them to use the estimated amount of the credit on a monthly basis as additional income, thus increasing the chances of the first-time homebuyer qualifying for a loan, 2) saves homebuyer money each year by reducing their federal tax liability, as long as they live in the purchased home.

Florida Housing MCC Program is designed for first time homebuyers or homebuyers that have not owned a home as primary residence in the past 3 years, and for eligible veterans purchasing a home anywhere in Florida.

The Florida Housing MCC can be issued with any participating lender’s fixed rate first mortgage loan. It cannot be used with the First Time Homebuyer Bond Loan Program or local housing agency bond loans.

The MCC Program has income and purchase price limits. These limits differ from county to county as well as by household size.

Florida MCC Borrower Income Limits by County

[table id=12 /]

source: Florida Housing MCC Program

Contact a participating lender if you have questions or would like to apply for a MCC.

The Florida Housing MCC Program mailing address for loan documents is:
Florida Housing Finance Corporation
Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program
227 North Bronough Street, Ste. 5000
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
(850) 488-4197

Rental Help for Florida Residents

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Section 8 Housing Program is a HUD funded rental assistance designed to help low-income individuals, families, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. The Section 8 Housing provides qualifying low-income population with affordable, decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market where the program is available.

Section 8 Housing for Florida is administered by local Public Housing Agencies (PHA). The program helps Florida eligible individuals and families broaden their housing options in the private rental market. Find more about Section 8 Housing Programs and Housing Choice Vouchers.

In Florida, each local Public Housing Authority administers Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for its designated area. The part of HUD Section 8 Program that offers Housing Choice Vouchers is also known as Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA). Under Section 8 TBRA local Florida Public Housing Authorities offer vouchers for more than 100 thousand Section 8 housing units across the state. The local PHA’s are solely responsible for all the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers eligibility and program administration.

Normally, there is a waiting list and the applications for the Section 8 Vouchers are taken periodically at a time determined by the local Public Housing Authority. The open period for taking Section 8 applications is usually advertised in the local newspaper two weeks prior to starting acceptance of applications, and all related social service agencies are notified. As most PHA have very long waiting lists you may want to apply at more than one PHA. The PHA can also give you a list of locations at which your voucher can be used.

When the waiting list is open, completed applications are accepted from all applicants. The Housing Authority will then verify the information in each application relevant to the applicant’s eligibility, admission and benefits level.

Eligible Section 8 applicants can select housing within a neighborhood of their choice from a property owner willing to participate in Section 8 program. TBRA contracts must have a minimum lease of one year and cannot exceed two years – but they can be renewed. Choices of housing units may include family’s present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the local Housing Authority. The rents in HOME assisted units must be affordable to low-income families and remain affordable for a designated amount of time.

Section 8 Program in Florida, as in other States, allows families to pay a predetermined share of their income toward the rent while issued Housing Choice Vouchers make up the difference. The program does not pay for security deposits and moving expenses. The tenant is responsible for paying for any utilities not included in the rent according to the lease.

By law, PHA must provide 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location.

Income eligibility limits and benefit levels are based on local median income and local housing costs but are set largely at the federal level with limited local discretion. Income requirements are set generally as less than 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), but can be up to 80% in some cases. By law, seventy-five percent of the newly issued vouchers must go to families with incomes below 30% of the Area Median Income.

Current recipients maintain vouchers until their income reaches a level at which the value of their housing subsidy is reduced to $0.00 – all housing subsidies are calculated based on family income, housing costs, and other factors.

For specifics on eligibility for each Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher please, check with your local Florida Public Housing Authority.

Search Section 8 listed rentals in Florida here

Project-Based Rental Assistance

Project Based rental assistance pays normally all rent that is left after eligible tenants contributes 30% of their adjusted annual income toward the rent. This is for Project-Based rental units in specific buildings designated as Section 8 and subsidized by the Federal Government with the main purpose to provide affordable housing for low-income families. The Florida Housing Finance Agency promotes affordable housing opportunities of this program by providing Project Based Contract Administration on behalf of HUD. The Project Based Contract Administration involves over 23,000 units throughout the state of Florida. Applications are accepted and waiting lists are maintained at each housing site. PHA processes monthly tenant and voucher requirements, payments, performs physical site inspection and responds to tenant complaints related to each Florida Project-Based Rental Assistance project. The populations served are households that are extremely-low income with income up to 50% of the Area Median Income. HUD establishes and publishes the income parameters annually.

Public Housing – Subsidized and Low-Rent Apartments

Public Housing provides safe, decent and affordable rental housing to eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides federal grants to local Public Housing Agencies (PHA) that manage the public housing developments for low-income residents at rents they can afford.

In general, housing developments owned, managed and maintained by the local PHA are referred to as Conventional Housing, or Low Rent Public Housing and units are offered to eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities at rental rates established by the PHA authorities within the HUD income limits and guidelines.

Inquire about current availability of subsidized and low-rent apartments at you local Florida Housing Authorities.

Search for affordable subsidized apartments in Florida using the HUD database.

 Housing Counseling Services

Contact one of the HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies in Florida State for the following education workshops or counseling services

  • Mortgage Delinquency and Default Resolution Counseling
  • Fair Housing Pre-Purchase Education Workshops
  • Financial Management/Budget Counseling
  • Financial, Budgeting and Credit Repair Workshops
  • Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Non-Delinquency Post Purchase Workshops
  • Pre-purchase Counseling
  • Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshops
  • Predatory Lending Education Workshops
  • Rental Housing Counseling
  • Rental Housing Workshops
  • Resolving/Preventing Mortgage Delinquency Workshops
  • Services for Homeless Counseling
  • Home Improvement and Rehabilitation Counseling

Florida Homeless Service Organizations

Florida has regional homeless service organizations that coordinate local resources and can provide assistance to the homeless. Most Florida Homeless Service Organizations are funded through Continuum of Care (CoC). Continuum of Care is a federal program that consolidate the following Homeless Assistance programs: the Shelter Plus Care Program, the Supportive Housing Program, and the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program. The CoC Program is designed to promote community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness by providing grants to nonprofit providers, State and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities.

Florida Homeless Service Organizations funded by CoC assist individuals (including unaccompanied youth) and families experiencing homelessness. With main goal goal of long-term stability those Florida homeless service organizations provide the services that are needed to help such individuals move into transitional and permanent housing.

If you are homeless in Florida and need help – call the listed homeless service organization in your area.

Alachua, Putnam, Bradford, Levy, Gilchrist

Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless & Hungry
2845 NE 39th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32609
352-792-0800
www.acchh.org

Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Washington

Homeless & Hunger Coalition of NW Florida
P.O. Box 549
Panama City, FL 32402-0549
850-481-5446
www.homelesshungercoalitionnwfl.org

Brevard

Brevard County Housing and Human Services
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Building B, Suite 103
Melbourne, FL 32940
321-633-2007, Ext. 56763

Broward

Broward County
Homeless Initiative Partnership
115 S. Andrews Av. Room A-307
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
954-357-6167

Charlotte

Charlotte County Homeless Coalition
PO Box 380157
Murdock, FL 33938-0157
941-627-4313

Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Sumter

Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition
P.O. Box 3031
Inverness, FL 34451-3031
352-860-2308

Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee

United Way of Suwannee Valley
325 NE Hernando Ave., Suite 102
Lake City, FL 32055-4015
386-752-5604

 Find more

 

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Florida

Food Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program, as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service is in charge of the SNAP nationally. Learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

In Florida, the SNAP is called The Food Assistance Program and is administered by Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Local DCF Service Centers and Community Partner Agencies across the State help the Department of Children and Families provide a better access to public assistance programs and services, including the Food Assistance Program (a.k.a. the Food Stamp Program).

According to the DCF the Food Assistance Program helps people with low-income buy food they need for good health. The program helps qualified Florida households by providing them with monthly electronic monetary benefits that can be used to buy basic foods at most markets and food stores. It is important for applicants to understand that provided Food Assistance benefits are a supplement to a family’s food budget. Households getting food stamps may need to spend some of their own cash, along with their food assistance benefits, to buy enough food for a month.

 

Who is Eligible for Food Assistance Benefits in Florida?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Florida, like in other States, are based on the household resources, income, household size, and are largely determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. For example, CDSS can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

Food Assistance Program is a food assistance program, primarily designed for individuals and families in need of help, with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

In general, to qualify for Food Assistance Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Florida Resident – must be U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – cooperation with Florida Department of Children and Families regarding required employment, training, community service or volunteer activities, (unless exempted, all able-bodied members of the household 18 to 50 years of age, who do not have dependent children or are not pregnant, can only get food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program);
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition, and if a household member was disqualified because of breaking the program rules. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet gross income limits (gross income less or equal to 200% of FPL – federal poverty level). Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Households with a disqualified member for breaking the Food Assistance Program rules are subject to gross income limits of 130%  and net income limits of 100% of FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits etc. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. Some of allowed deductions are utility and telephone expenses, cost of dependent care, portion of medical expenses and child support paid. Local DCF Service Center can help with the current list of all allowable deductions. Check the table with Food Assistance Program income limits per household size below.

[table id=39 /]

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

Some Florida residents may be automatically or so called broad-based categorically eligible for Food Assistance if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits including pamphlets from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by federal grants, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for Food Assistance categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and any asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States can assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any TANF-funded benefit that can make food stamps applicants eligible.

You can always call 1-866-762-2237 with any question on Food Assistance Eligibility.

 

Food Assistance Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get Florida Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps). The screening allows interested in getting Florida food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your Florida local DCF Office. Even if you are unsure whether you qualify you still may be eligible for Food Assistance benefits and you should still apply. Only a Florida DCF Office can determine your eligibility and grant you food stamp benefits.

 

What are the Florida Food Assistance Benefits in Dollar Amount?

If approved, the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check below what are the maximum allowed food stamp monetary amounts. The dollar amounts are called allotments.

[table id=29 /]

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments

 

How to Apply for Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps) in Florida?

In Florida, there is one statewide application for Food Assistance, Temporary Cash Assistance, Medicaid and Refugee Assistance benefits. Although each of these programs has its own specific eligibility rules, anyone who is interested in one or more of the listed assistance programs can apply using the same application.

Florida residents in need of food assistance  benefits can apply here, get the application online, or go in one of the local DCF Service Centers. The applicant needs to fill out all required information on the application. Providing a complete application will result most likely in a quicker eligibility determination. The application must have at least name, address and signature of the applicant to be accepted by the DCF Office. All required information can be provided later at the interview.

Before decision is made a DCF worker has to review all submitted information and decide if the applicant needs to be interviewed. If an interview is needed it is usually scheduled within 5 days of the date the application is submitted.  During the interview the DCF worker will ask questions relevant to the application and verify submitted information. If the applicant is eligible, they will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long is the applicant eligible for. Call DCF Customer Call Center at (866) 762-2237 if you have questions about the Food Assistance Benefits and the application process.

 

Food Assistance Benefits (Food Stamps) Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

If you submitted application for Food Assistance Benefits and the DCF have scheduled you for an interview they may require you to bring certain application supporting documents and proofs.  DCF  lists some examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:

  • Proof of Identity (Driver’s License, State ID card);
  • Proof of citizenship (Birth Certificate, Passport)
  • Proof of lawful immigration status ONLY for non-citizens applying for benefits (an Alien Registration Card, visa);
  • Proof of earned income of everyone in your household for the past four weeks (recent pay stubs, a work statement from an employer). If self-employed, income and expense or tax records;
  • Proof of unearned income for each household member (Unemployment benefits, SSI, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, child support, worker’s compensation, school grants or loans, rental income, etc.);

In Florida, when receiving food stamps, physically and mentally fit adults ages 16 through 59 years old must register for work, accept offers of suitable work, and take part in an employment and training programs when referred, if they are not exempted. The federal rules state that healthy adults ages 18 through 49 years old who do not have dependent children can only receive food assistance benefits for 3 months in a 36-month period if they are not working or participating in a work or workfare program. The Florida Food Assistance has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries regarding income limits, deductions, limits of resources and exemptions from work requirements.

All Food Assistance beneficiaries are required to complete eligibility reviews, usually every 6 or 12 months, in order to continue receiving food stamps benefits. The DCF Office usually mails a notice with instructions what is required when it is time for the household to renew its Food Assistance Benefits.

Applicants waiting for Food Assistance Benefits approval in Florida should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DCF Office.

Households getting food stamps benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the local office in order to assure their participation in the Food Assistance program.

 

Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food Assistance Benefits?

Approved for Food Assistance Benefits get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards and accounts enabling them to use the food assistance benefits at any grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Florida that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Benefits are made available from the 1st to the 15th of every month, based on the 9th and 8th digits of the Florida case number (READ BACKWARDS), dropping the 10th digit.

Case number 9th and 8th digit: 00-06 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 07-13 = benefits available on the 2nd of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 14-19 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 20-26 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 27-33 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 34- 39 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 40-46 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 47-53 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit : 54-59 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 60-66 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 67-73 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 74-79 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 80-86 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 87-96 = benefits available on the 14th of the month
Case number 9th and 8th digit: 94-99 = benefits available on the 15th of the month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Florida ACCESS EBT Card call Florida EBT Customer Service: 1-888-356-3281

 

How and Where to Use the Food Assistance (Food Stamp) Benefits?

Florida Food Assistance Program provides the SNAP benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Florida SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Florida ACCESS EBT Card.  The SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores.

With their ACCESS EBT cards households can buy almost any food for human consumption from approved markets and groceries. Notable exception are: tobacco, alcohol, food supplements, meals from restaurants, and hot food for immediate consumption. For security reasons, USDA does not allow EBT cards to be used online to buy food from Internet websites.

 

I Need Food Stamps Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services, as per federal rules – that is food assistance benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. You can always contact local DCF Office for more information.

 

Florida SUNCAP

State of Florida offers special food assistance program called SUNCAP –  for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). All SSI applicants are considered for SUNCAP, if want to apply, and are not asked to complete separate forms. Individuals may be eligible for SUNCAP if they are: 1) getting SSI, 2) at least 18-year-old, 3) not working, 4) purchasing and preparing food alone. If you are already receiving food assistance benefits in the regular Food Assistance Program, you may be automatically put in the SUNCAP Program when you become SSI eligible. If your food assistance benefits will go down because of SUNCAP, you may choose to continue receiving your food assistance benefits under the regular Food Assistance Program.

To apply for SUNCAP file for SSI at one of the Florida Social Security offices, and Social Security will decide if you are eligible for SUNCAP. If you are getting regular Food Assistance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income and want to convert to SUNCAP, contact the special SUNCAP unit at 1-866-762-2237.