Resources and Self Advocacy
Are you a member of the Jewish community who is having trouble covering even basic expenses? If you’re concerned about being able to pay for your food, utilities, rent or mortgage payments, it can be hard to know where to start. Yad Chessed’s experienced staff can help you navigate available options, match resources to your personal needs, and help you achieve financial stability.
If you’d like to explore community programs and services on your own, we’ve created this online guide to help you gather information to assist you in advocating for yourself, your family, or other loved ones. You can also download this guide as a PDF.
We recommend that you start by looking close to home for organizations and resources that may be able to help. Call or visit your town hall or look at your town’s website. Some towns may have special funds or services. Even if they don’t have assistance, they may maintain guides to organizations and agencies that provide help to people who are struggling financially. Your rabbi or other synagogue staff may be be able to offer help or be familiar with resources you may not be aware of. If you have children, your school’s social worker or guidance counselors may be helpful, and if you are over 62 or disabled, your town’s senior center or Council on Aging may be an excellent resource.
Keep in mind that your research may sometimes lead you to a dead end. Some organizations require a referral from a social services agency, while others may have long waiting lists or only serve a narrow population. Although we’ve tried to only include resources that could be helpful, don’t get discouraged if you’re not immediately successful.
To find food pantries and other sources of free food assistance in your area, contact the Project Bread Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or visit their website. It’s also a good idea to also contact your town hall, house of worship, or other local organizations who may be aware of small programs in your area that might not be widely publicized. Always call or visit the web site of a local food pantry before visiting – hours are often quite limited, and each has it’s own procedures, which may require an application process that includes a reference letter or other documentation from a social worker, clergy, or other person that can attest to your need. Knowing what to expect in advance can keep you from the frustration of having to make repeated trips before getting the help you need.
The Project Bread Hotline can also help you determine if you’re eligible for SNAP (food stamps), and help you apply as well.
The Jewish community resource for food assistance is Family Table. For eligibility and location information, call 781-647-5327 and ask for Family Table. If you’re an older adult or a person with disabilities, you can call 1-800-882-2003 for information on local meals-on-wheels and congregate meal program. If you have school-age children check out the links provided here (or contact your local town hall, senior center, or school) for information about programs available near you. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
- Visit Getting Food Stamps for information and help applying for food stamps. You can also do an online chat (see the bottom right corner of the Getting Food Stamps website) with a hotline counselor to get information about applying for food stamps OR about local food resources in your area.
- Visit Mass Cap and click on “Agencies and Services” to find your local Regional Community Action Agencies. The agency nearest to you may offer emergency food assistance and other services that may be helpful.
- Visit Meals 4 Kids to find information on school-based and summer meals for kids.
During long Massachusetts winters, it goes without saying that having access to utilities is not just a matter of personal comfort, but a matter of life and death. Use the links provided to learn your rights and how to advocate for yourself, family, friends or neighbors.
For information on government assistance, call 1-800-632-8175 or see the link. If you find that you aren’t eligible for government assistance you may be eligible for private assistance from Citizens Energy Corporation (1-877-563-4645 or see their website) or through the Massachusetts Good Neighbor Fund (1-800-334-3047 in Boston area or see their website).
If you’re not eligible for any assistance but still find yourself unable to pay, contact your utility company about creating a payment plan. If your company does not cooperate in helping you create an affordable payment plan (don’t agree to a plan you can’t afford), contact the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) at 1-877-886-5066.
Yad Chessed social workers can help members of the Jewish community who are trying to navigate the system of utility assistance and may be able to help to those who are experiencing a financial crisis but not necessarily eligible for other forms of help. This past winter, YC helped ##### with utility bills and/or provided assistance in obtaining outside assistance. Contact us today for more information and and application. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
- Visit Mass Cap and click on “Agencies and Services” to find your local Regional Community Action Agencies. The agency nearest to you may offer utilities assistance and other services that may be helpful.
- Visit the Massachusetts Good Neighbor Fund and click on “Need Energy Assistance?”
- Visit the Citizen’s Energy Corporation and click on “Assistance Programs.”
When doing research about emergency financial assistance, keep in mind that financial assistance most often means small grants or loans that go directly to pay a creditor or gift cards to use at specific supermarkets, gas stations or clothing stores. Organizations that offer this kind of help may be small, local and not widely publicized. Their funds may be limited and may be on a one-time basis, or may be offered only at certain times of year. Check with your town hall, house of worship, food pantry, or other local social-service organizations or agencies to see if they offer this kind of assistance or know of nearby organizations that offer this kind of help.
Yad Chessed’s staff specializes in helping Jewish individuals and families overcome serious financial crises and get back on the road of economic stability through financial assistance in [budgeting and] paying bills for essential goods or services. Contact us today for more information and an application. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
[include these?? I have reservations]
http://massachusetts.salvationarmy.org Some Salvation Army locations offer emergency financial assistance for local residents, funds permitting. You can find the Salvation Army location near you at this link.
catholic charities basic needs program]
- Modest Needs is a website-based nonprofit that tries to match low-income working people who are in a temporary financial crisis but ineligible for aid from traditional agencies with donors willing to provide short-term financial grants (in form of payment directly to creditor or vendor). The application is done entirely online and applicants must have an email address.
- Veterans or those currently serving in the US Military can find sources for possible financial assistance at the Veterans’ Families United Foundation. Under the “How to Get Help” tab, look for the Needs Assistance link for a list of organizations and agencies that may be able to help.
If you’re underemployed or having trouble finding work, JVS Career Solution is a great place to start. They serve the Jewish and non-Jewish community, and have free and low-priced programs and services for job seekers across the spectrum — from young people looking for their first jobs (or training for their first jobs) to mid-life career-changers.
If JVS is not convenient, look at the MassGov website for career services in your area.
Yad Chessed can help members of the Jewish community who are struggling financially due to a period of unemployment or underemployment with loans or grants to help pay for essentials, or expenses incurred as a result of a job search, as well as help with budgeting and assistance in taking advantage of all available community resources and programs. Contact us today. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
Visit MassGov and search for “Find a Career Center Near You” in the Search Field to find the One Stop Career Center in your area. These centers offer a variety of free and low-cost services including help with resume and cover letter-writing, career counseling and employment training programs.
Visit JVS Career Solution for more resources.
Stable housing can be difficult to maintain in a financial crisis. Here are some resources that may be helpful if you’re threatened with eviction or need short-term financial assistance due to a crisis, need assistance in advocating for yourself with a landlord or mortgage-holder, or need help or advice about transitioning to a more affordable housing situation.
For information on subsidized or affordable housing in your town, check with your own town hall and those in your area. For general information about what housing-related assistance is available, find your local Housing Consumer Education Center by visiting their website or by calling 800-244-5124. The Boston area center includes walk-in hours where housing counselors are available for individual consultations. Visit the Boston center online or call 617-425-6700. If you’re an older adult, contact CJP Senior Direct by visiting their website or calling them at 1-800-980-1982 for information on low income or affordable housing for seniors.
Yad Chessed, often with the help of other Jewish organizations like JFCS and JFS Metrowest, helps individuals and families in the Jewish community keep their homes when possible or transition to housing that’s affordable over the long term. Contact us today.
[OR: Yad Chessed, often with the help of other Jewish organizations like JFCS and JFS Metrowest, helps individuals and families in the Jewish community keep their homes when possible (helping with rent or similar expenses in the short term), or transition to housing that’s affordable in the long term (helping with moving and other costs) and will help individuals and families regain and sustain financial stability. Contact us today. ] [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
- Find a link to your local Housing Consumer Education Center in your area. These centers can guide you to the available resources for preventing foreclosure and eviction.
- The Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) is the Boston area Housing Consumer Education Center. Under the “Programs” tab, choose Housing Communication Education Center.
- Visit HomeStart and click on the “Contact” tab for phone numbers, locations and walk-in hours. The non-profit Homestart Inc, with offices and walk-in hours in Cambridge and Boston, may be able to help those who are homeless, on the verge of becoming homeless or in search of affordable housing.
- Elder Homeowners is a nonprofit that provides trained, in-home counselors to help elders (and in some cases age 50+) homeowners of low and moderate income elders prevent foreclosure.
- The staff at CJP Senior Direct can direct callers to many resources related to older adult well-being, including information on housing.
- Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly offers affordable and subsidized non-sectarian supportive housing developments at several locations in the greater Boston area. Note that there are waiting lists for subsidized units. When you visit their website, click on “Living at JCHE” tab.
- If you are now homeless or expect to imminently to be without shelter, see the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless website and click on the “Get Help” tab. Your options which will depend upon your location and personal situation.
Anyone struggling with or knows someone struggling with mental health issues understands that it can affect every aspect of individual and family well-being –including financial well-being. Finding affordable care and support can take some persistence.
A good place to start for a referral is your primary care physician or insurance company. You can also try a referral service: William James College Interface Referral Service (1-888-244-6843) can guide callers in many parts of the greater Boston to appropriate and affordable local care and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has a 24-hour helpline (1-800-662-4357) with both information and referrals related to mental health and addiction care.
For information on navigating the mental healthcare system in Massachusetts, contact NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Massachusetts helpline at 1-800-370-9085. See their website for information on a variety of mental health topics and services, including information for family members and caregivers and assistance for those experiencing a mental health crisis.
If you or a loved one is in imminent danger of committing suicide, call 911 immediately. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal feelings, there are places you can reach out to with a phone call or text to receive immediate and compassionate assistance. The Massachusetts Samaritans Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 877.870.4673. Help is also available by texting START to 741-741.
If you’re a member of the Jewish community, note that Yad Chessed does not pay for mental health care, but may be able to assist financially in other areas that will offset financial stress while you or your loved one is getting the help they need. Contact us today. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
- When you visit the SAMHSA website, choose the “Find Help” tab and then Behavioral Health Treatment Locator to find mental health and substance abuse care providers in your area.
- The NAMI Mass website is a good source of information and resources for families of people struggling with mental illness.
- Samaritans offers information on helping people who are feeling suicidal.
- Mass Men offers resources on mental health specifically focused on men
Health and Dental Care
It probably won’t come as a surprise that a serious health issue can cause or exacerbate a financial crisis. Obviously cutting costs without compromising your health is a challenge.
If bills from a hospitalization are unaffordable, ask about payment plans or financial assistance (most hospitals offer some financial assistance to people with lower-incomes). Also ask hospital social workers and the patient services desk if they keep a list of local charities that offer help with medical bills.
To find the most affordable insurance, you can consult Healthcare for All’s Insurance Helpline (800-272-4232) for information about Massachusetts health insurance options. See their website for an online glossary and the option to email your questions. The state of Massachusetts provides a hotline (1-877-623-6765) for those who want information on MassHealth (Medicaid) or the subsidized insurance available through the Mass Health Connector.
For free and sliding-scale medical and dental clinics in your area, use the NeedyMeds website. Click on the “Patient Savings” tab and choose Free/Low Cost/Sliding Scale Clinics to find affordable medical and dental clinics in your area. They also have information on prescription discounts available through medication manufacturers — check out the “Patient Savings” tab and choose “Prescription Assistance.”
Yad Chessed has assisted many Jewish individuals and families whose financial stability is seriously threatened by medical expenses. Contact us today. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
List of Dental Schools???
[maybe change to only bankruptcy/housing assistance]
Finding legal help that’s affordable can be especially daunting. You’ll find resources here that can guide you to the options in your area that are available for people at your level of income. There are also links that will help you find information related to specific legal issues or problems.
The Legal Resource Finder from Mass Legal Help can give you information on legal aid programs, non-profit organizations that provide legal services, government agencies, and court based programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue. It also provides information on legal problems and self-help strategies. See the link below and click on “Find Legal Aid.” It also has a list of lawyer referral services. From the “Find Legal Aid” page, choose “Lawyer Referral Services.”
Greater Boston Legal Services helps low-income people in the Boston area with many civil (non-criminal) legal issues. For more information, call 800-323-3205 (toll-free) or go to the link below and choose “Get Legal Help” and then “Can GBLS Help Me?” for detailed information.” If you live in the Metrowest area, Metrowest Legal Services may be able to help you with many civil (non-criminal) issues. For more information, call 1-800-696-1501 or go to the website below and choose the “Get Legal Help” tab.
While Yad Chessed does not assist with payment legal bills it does offer qualified clients from the Jewish community other economic assistance that may help during a time when legal difficulties are contributing to a financial crisis. Contact us today. [Link to YC contact info and maybe link to story?]
[include universities?? – assistance and requirements vary a lot] Some universities offer free or low-cost legal clinics for people of low or moderate income. Prepare to do some research: they often specialize in certain legal areas, serve a limited geographical area and may only be available during the school year. Some services may require referrals.
Other Categories?? Domestic Violence? Benefits?