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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Texas – 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 Texas homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Texas 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:
- Lower your monthly mortgage payments with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Lower your interest rate with Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
- Check eligibility for principal reduction with Principal Reduction Alternative SM (PRA)
- Get help if currently unemployed with Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
- Reduce your 2nd mortgage monthly payments with Second Lien Modification Program (2MP)
- Explore your foreclosure alternatives with Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
- FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)
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.
Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Texas
Texas Supplemental Nutrition 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. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA.
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 Texas the SNAP is administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides federal grants and oversees the operation of Texas SNAP. The Federal Government pays 100% of Texas SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Texas SNAP administrative cost.
According to Texas Health and Human Services Commission, SNAP “Helps people buy the food they need for good health.”
Who is Eligible for Texas SNAP Benefits?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Texas are based on residency, limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, work requirement and other factors depending on the applicant case. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when using the federal grants to implement SNAP on State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the low‐income local population.
Texas Food Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
Texas applicants for SNAP benefits must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- State of Texas Resident – U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each household member between 16-59 years old must work, participate in employment and training program, or be registered to work;
- Resource Limit – Both liquid and non-liquid assets a household can convert to meet his immediate needs must be less than $5,000 combined with excess vehicle value (1st vehicle exempt is $15,000, 2nd vehicle exempt is $4,650 – all fair market value above is countable);
- Income Test – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other. See the table with Texas food stamp income limits per household size.
The following chart shows what are the income limits per household size in Texas to qualify for SNAP benefits. There are other eligibility requirements and some people might be able to get benefits even if their income is higher than what is listed in this chart.
[table id=51 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Some Texas residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs or getting any benefits from programs funded by federal grants.
Getting any benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant, receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or getting informational guide, brochure, or informational booklet funded by federal grants can make the household applying for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing federal standard income and asset eligibility rules.
Check with HHSC on more details regarding Texas SNAP eligibility – 1-877-541-7905.
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Texas SNAP benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting Texas food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local Texas HHSC office.
Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply.
The Health and Human Services Commission is the agency in Texas that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.
What is Maximum Dollar Amount of Texas SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
If approved, the Texas SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and its monthly net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check below what are the maximum food assistance amounts a Texas household can get per month. The SNAP allowed benefits per month are called allotments.
[table id=29 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Texas?
To apply for SNAP benefits in Texas download and print Your Texas Benefits form offered by the Health and Human Services Commission.
The same application form can be used to apply for Medicaid, CHIP, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program – which offers cash benefits to qualifying families.
More than one assistance program in an application is common practice by a lot of the States, since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of cash and other assistance and services.
Applicants for SNAP in State of Texas have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The SNAP application may be submitted to any local Health and Human Services Commission office.
If you are to file a paper application, just fill out all required information and mail or turn it in any local HHSC office.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the HHSC office to accept it.
All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request. However, if you provide more complete information, it will help HHSC determine your eligibility more quickly.
The application process includes an SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the HHSC office will contact you to set up an interview and verify the information on your application. If you are elderly, disabled individual, or unable to go to the office due to a hardship, call the HHSC to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.
At the interview, you will meet with a HHSC worker who will go over the information on your application and verify the required supporting documentation and proofs. You will also receive information from the worker or other staff about job requirements/opportunities and your responsibilities while in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for. You will get also be advised on when a review of your case is due, along with reporting requirements expected from your household.
The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If Texas HHSC finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received and accepted by the agency.
Texas SNAP applicants also have the option to apply for SNAP benefits online using Your Texas Benefits – the Texas State Online Application System that enables users to apply for Texas Assistance Programs, Benefits and Services.
Texas SNAP (Food Stamps) Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
Health and Human Services Commission office worker has to interview you and verify provided information before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP benefits.
Texas HHSC lists examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:
- Identity – Valid driver’s license or Department of Public Safety ID card.
- Social Security Card for each person included in the SNAP application.
- Citizenship – U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, U.S. birth certificate, hospital record of birth or Medicare card.
- Qualified Alien eligible non-citizen status – Alien registration card or other immigration documents.
- Earned Income – Pay stubs, copy of checks, a statement from employer or self-employment records.
- Unearned Income – Social Security, Pension, Veterans Administration, Supplemental Security Income, Workers’ Compensation or Unemployment Benefits records, pay stubs, records.
- Child Support Obligations – Divorce decree, court order or copy of district clerk record.
- Child Support Payment – Copy of district clerk record or letter from parent who pays showing any child support amounts and dates paid, including the person’s name, address, telephone number, signature and date.
- Loans, Gifts, Contributions – Promissory note, loan agreement, statement from person providing the money that includes the person’s name, address, telephone number, signature and date.
- Bank Accounts – Current statements for all accounts.
- Stocks, Bonds, Trusts, Mineral Rights – Current tax statements, division orders, deeds or royalty statements.
- Medical Expenses – Medical bills, receipts or statements from the provider.
- Rent or Mortgage – Copies of checks or check stubs, statement from mortgage lender or landlord. Also, if you rent your home, please provide the name, address and telephone number of you landlord.
- Utilities – Your most recent utility bills showing your name and current address.
- Dependent Care Expenses – Copies of checks or check stubs showing when and how often you pay. Include a signed and dated statement from the person you pay showing that person’s address and telephone number.
- Pregnancy – Medical records confirming the pregnancy.
This is not a complete list and depending on case the HHSC caseworker may request additional types of proof and application supporting documents.
Applicants for SNAP benefits in Texas should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the HHSC office. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time in order to assure their participation in the Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods.
SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.
The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.
As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments.
The main goal of the work requirement is to help the food stamp recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
In Texas the HHSC requires SNAP beneficiaries to register for E&T Program. The agency helps by assisting and directing persons in E&T activities which enable them to achieve or maintain economic self support.
More details on SNAP work registration and available employment and training programs in your area call: 1-877-541-7905.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Approved for Texas SNAP benefits applicants get an Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) card – the Lone Star Card. The EBT card can be used like a debit card at any Texas food stamps approved grocery stores and farmers markets. Food assistance benefits are deposited into an EBT account of the beneficiary each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available over 15 days, beginning on the 1st and based on the last digit in the Eligibility Determination Group (EDG) number:
EDG # ends in: 0 = benefits available on the 1st of the month
EDG # ends in: 1 = benefits available on the 3rd of the month
EDG # ends in: 2 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
EDG # ends in: 3 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
EDG # ends in: 4 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
EDG # ends in: 5 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
EDG # ends in: 6 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
EDG # ends in: 7 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
EDG # ends in: 8 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
EDG # ends in: 9 = benefits available on the 15th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Texas EBT Customer Service: 1-800-777-7328
How and Where to Use the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Texas SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Texas SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Texas EBT cards – Lone Star Card. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Texas grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Check this list of Texas food stamp stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.
I Need SNAP Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting 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. Call 1-877-541-7905 for more information on Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).