The following is a list of some programs which will offer savings benefits to low income individuals and families. Eligibility determinations are made according to individual program parameters but generally apply to all those who live within the annual federal poverty thresholds. (Income Guideline for 2013 appears below).
California Lifeline Program (landline service)
This program provides discounted telephone service to low income households (monthly cost $6.84 local phone service, $30.39 unlimited local and long distance). Otherwise, the rates are $16.45/$45 per month.
Lifeline cell phone services
Free cell phone and service providers for low income individuals and families.
Following are two links to providers of the free Lifeline cell phone service which allows for 250 voice minutes and 250 texts free of charge for individuals (or one per family) for those who receive public benefits. Client must have last four digits of ss number and proof of enrollment in a public benefit program such as Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, CalFRESH, and SSI or proof of low income. Income parameters are shown on the websites to determine eligibility.
1 (800) 395-2171
Reach Out Wireless
1 (877) 777-1914
CARE Program (PG & E)
This program provides a monthly discount (typically 20%) on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualifications are based on the number of persons living in the home and total annual household income.
Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program (PG & E)
The FERA program provides a monthly discount on electric bills for income-qualified households of three or more persons.
Medical Baseline Energy Allowance (PG & E)
This is separate program of PG&E for households in which an ill member or someone with a chronic health condition will benefit from the more consistent use of heat and/or energy to maintain operation of medical equipment. A physician needs to sign the form stating why the patient would benefit. Renewals via physician verification are annual for the first two years. After that, only a signature of customer and return renewal form are necessary. The savings are considerable. This program can be used in addition to CARE.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
This is a federally-funded program which provides a one-time payment for energy bill amount per year through Spectrum Community Services. Each county has its own program parameters. In Alameda County, the household must have received a 48 hour shut off notice.
Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH)
This assistance is for those who cannot cover a PG&E bill due to sudden unexpected financial hardship. This is a one-time payment (permitted once each 18 months) through Salvation Army and donations from utility’s shareholders, employees and customers.
Hospital Charity Care/ Indigent Waivers
For those without comprehensive insurance and low income, each hospital has charity care/indigent waivers to help cover the costs of hospital bills. These waivers are filed in the billing/financial office at each different hospital site. Once approved, waivers are usually good for the entire year in which a patient accrues hospital bills. Each hospital has its own income guidelines and determines what percentage of the bills that the hospital can cover. Determinations are based on income/poverty thresholds which are consistent with most other cost savings programs. Savings range from $0-50,000, depending on uncovered costs and are necessary to file as they help clients maintain a good credit standing, rather than being in future monetary arrears.
City Ambulance Service Indigent Waivers
Such waivers are used to cover the cost of ambulance transportation that is not covered by insurance (typically $1,000-$4,000 a ride). Contact the city telephone number on the billing notice in addition to requesting from the city the non-emergency billing contact for the fire department which responded and provided the ambulance service in order to request a waiver. Note: Waivers do not cover the cost of an ambulance ride used for hospital transport if such transport was used for non-emergency purposes.
EBMUD Customer Assistance Program (CAP)
The home must have an individual water meter and be the primary residence of the applicant.
This program pays part of the cost of water service for low-income customers. Applications are processed by the Salvation Army. No assistance is given for bills retro-actively.
East Bay Paratransit
This is a very low fee public transit service for people unable to use regular buses or trains because of a disability established by AC Transit and BART to meet Americans with Disabilities Act. Rides are arranged by phone in advance for door-to-door services in vans equipped with wheelchair lift. Fee is determined when reservation is made, computed by distance between destinations. Registered attendants may accompany rider. Physician’s certification is necessary. With arrangement, Paratransit can provide a round trip ride of a disabled client and attendant (such as designated family member) to their offices in order to determine eligibility and process documentation required for the program application.
City Taxi Scrip
Temporary paper money for those who are certified disabled by East Bay Paratransit or 70 years of age with an income that does not exceed 30% of Area Median Income. Funded by Measure B grants, each city has its own program in which they contract with listed taxi service agents. Scrip is issued in quarterly coupon books for taxi rides to anywhere the client needs or wishes to go. That includes shopping or visiting family and friends. It is customary to tip the driver in addition to the scrip. For elders with limited English, the address destinations and directions (please wait 5 minutes) can be written for the cabdriver to follow. Berkeley issues $120 per quarter ($480) per year in free taxi rides. Oakland has a taxi script and van voucher program that provides subsidized but not free rides using script under the Oakland Paratransit Office. In Oakland, taxi Scrip is available in $10 books with coupons in denominations of 20¢ and $1.00. The rider pays $3.00 for each $10.00 taxi scrip book. Van vouchers are good for a one-way van trip up to 10 miles. Each voucher also costs $3.00. The taxi scrip and van vouchers are limited with a maximum allocation per quarter. Apply through East Bay Paratransit.
Internet Essentials Program by Comcast
This program provides highly reduced fees for internet services as well as the opportunity to purchase one computer for low cost ($149.99) upon initial enrollment. A household must have at least one child who qualifies to participate in the national school lunch program for this service. Current monthly fees for internet services for this program are $9.95 plus tax per month. There is no activation fee, no fee for equipment and no price increases.
2016 Federal Poverty Guidelines
48 Contiguous States and DC