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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Vermont – 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 Vermont homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Vermont 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 Vermont
Vermont Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – 3SquaresVT
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, including Vermont. SNAP also provides education about nutrition to help recipients choose foods that enhance their health and well being.
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. Learn more about SNAP.
In Vermont the SNAP is known as 3SquaresVT and is administered by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) – Economic Services Division (ESD). The Federal Government oversees the State operation and pays 100% of Vermont 3SquaresVT with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Vermont 3SquaresVT administrative cost.
The main purpose of the SNAP federal program is to help end hunger and improve nutrition and health of low income households. The SNAP federal funding provides monthly benefits to low-income Vermont households that help them buy the food needed for a nutritionally adequate diet.
And according to Vermont Department for Children and Families: “3SquaresVT is a federal USDA program (formerly food stamps) that can help stretch your food budget so you can put three healthy meals on your table every day.”
Who is Eligible for 3SquaresVT (Food Stamps) in Vermont?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Vermont, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements. 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 implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the SNAP food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.
Vermont 3SquaresVT program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
In general, to qualify for Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Vermont Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
- Resource Limit – No asset limit except for households with income greater than 185% where there is a person over age 60 or a disabled person;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition and are based on the current federal poverty levels (FPL). Households with no elderly (60 years of age or older) or disabled individuals must have gross income less than 185% FPL and net household income less than 100% FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other. Household net income is computed by deducting certain allowed expenses from gross income. The resulting numbers must fall below the net income dollar amounts listed in the table below for your household to get food assistance benefits. This dollar amount depends on the number of people in your household.
See the table with Vermont 3SquaresVT program income limits per household size below.
[table id=60 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Vermont residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for 3SquaresVT if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Households with children that receive the Vermont Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Reach Up, or Post- Secondary Education benefits do not have to meet the gross income limit and asset limit. Households with a member receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also are eligible to enroll and have no gross income limit or asset test.
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool to find out if you might be eligible to get Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting Vermont 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 to Vermont DCF – Economic Services Division.
The Department for Children and Families is the agency in Vermont that can make final determination regarding your 3SquaresVT application in this State and grant you benefits.
What are the Dollar Amounts of Vermont 3SquaresVT Benefits?
If the applicant is approved, the Vermont 3SquaresVT 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 size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts. The food assistance dollar amounts are called allotments.
[table id=29 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for 3SquaresVT (Food Stamp) Assistance in Vermont?
To apply for 3SquaresVT benefits in Vermont download and print Application for Food, Fuel, and Financial Assistance form offered by the Department for Children and Families.
The same application form can be used to apply for:
- Reach Up – Services and financial assistance to help families with children become more independent.
- Home Heating – Financial assistance that helps pay part of your home heating costs if you pay for heat directly, have heat included in your rent, or rent a room in someone else’s home.
- Essential Person – Assistance program for people who are blind, have a disability, or are 65 or older, that helps meet expenses for someone who lives with and provides care for them so they can live at home.
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 other assistance and services.
Applicants for 3SquaresVT in State of Vermont have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The 3SquaresVT application may be submitted to any district Economic Services Division office.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the 3SquaresVT application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the ESD office to accept it.
All required information and its verification can be provided later or upon request. However, if you provide more complete information, it will help ESD determine your eligibility more quickly.
The application process includes a 3SquaresVT eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the ESD office will contact you for an interview and verify the information on your application.
In most cases the 3SquaresVT interview will be done by phone. A 3SquaresVT Benefits Specialist will go over the information on your application and verify the required supporting documentation and proofs. You will also receive information about work requirements and your responsibilities while in the 3SquaresVT 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 3SquaresVT benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If Vermont DCF finds you eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received and accepted by the agency.
Vermont 3SquaresVT applicants also have the option to apply for benefits online using myBenefits.vt.gov website. It is the Vermont State Online Application that enables users to apply for Vermont Assistance Programs, Benefits and Services.
Vermont 3SquaresVT Verification of Information, Rules, Approval
The DCF Office has to interview you and verify provided information before determining if the household is eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits. Vermont Department for Children and Families lists examples of information that may be needed as proof:
- Identification (licenses, government identification, birth certificates) and social security numbers for all members applying for assistance.
- All gross wages received by your family in the 30 days before your application. Pay stubs or written statements from employers.
- If self-employed, most recent federal income tax return including all W2s, forms, and schedules or record books showing income and expenses for the last 12 months or since the business started whichever is less.
- Written statement from any person paying you for room, room and meals, or only meals.
- Income you receive from providing dependent care to children or adults in your home (self-employment records or statement from person paying).
- Gross unearned income such as social security, SSI, veteran’s benefits, unemployment or worker’s compensation, pensions, dividends, or child support (award letter, divorce/separation papers or statement from person paying support, 1099).
- Amount of room only, meals only, or room and meals that you pay.
- Dependent care expenses you paid in the last calendar month.
- Alimony or child support payments you made to anyone outside your household (court order, and cancelled checks or statement from the person receiving payment).
- Savings, checking, credit union account numbers or statements of all accounts, including children’s accounts, IRAs and profit sharing accounts.
- Rent receipt, lot rent receipt, rent lease agreement.
- Proof of mortgage payment such as cancelled check, payment book or payment schedule.
- Property tax bill and home insurance premium including the breakdown between property, contents, liability.
This is not a complete list and depending on case the DCF worker may request additional types of proof and application supporting documents.
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 for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 – if they are not exempt.
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 through 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 SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
If you are able to work but currently not working, you may have to register at your local Vermont Department of Labor Office to become eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits.
Call 1-800-479-6151 if you want to find more about Vermont Employment and Training Program offered to 3SquaresVT recipients.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the 3SquaresVT Benefits?
The Vermont 3SquaresVT Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of Vermont 3SquaresVT are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Vermont Express Card.
Vermont 3SquaresVT Benefits are made available on the first of every month.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or Vermont Express EBT Card call Vermont EBT Customer Service: 1-800-914-8605
How and Where to Use the 3SquaresVT Benefits?
Vermont 3SquaresVT benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized stores.
Households and individuals get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards – the Vermont Express Card, that enable them to use their 3SquaresVT benefits at any grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Check this list of Vermont Food Stamp participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of 3SquaresVT 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 Food 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. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-800-479-6151 for more information on Vermont 3SquaresVT Program.