With the weak economy, and with the African-American jobless rates still increasing, President Obama has proposed the creation of additional grants and assistance programs in his most recent federal budget. The official White House budget that was recently released to various board members of the Black Leadership Forum details various resources that will give African-American families the assistance and opportunities that they need to succeed over the long term.
The budget document was called “Expanding Opportunities for African-American Families”. It was created by and issued from the White House Office of Public Engagement. There are over 30 different areas and programs that may receive targeted assistance and grants. The overall goal is to boost the economy and quality of life for the millions of disadvantaged people across the nation, including African-Americans. The current unemployment rate of 16.5 percent for African Americans is the highest of any major racial group in America. That rate also does not include the number that are working part time but would like a full time position.
President Obama’s latest budget puts a tremendous focus on job creation for all American families, including blacks. The program will take the necessary steps to help jump start job creation, and it will work to strengthen the economic security and long term self-sufficiency of American families.
Below you will find highlights and descriptions of some of the short-term grants and assistance programs that are now available. These are all part of the initiatives that were created as part of the budget proposals. The president is making the tough choices that need to be made to put our Nation back on the path to fiscal responsibility and long term job creation. These programs can also provide short term relief for paying everyday bills.
Learn more about how to access the programs, and where to sign up for the grants.
•Student Loan Debt: There will be additional resources available to help graduates who are overburdened with student loans and other debt that may be the result of their education. The Obama Administration will strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans. This will be accomplished by reducing the monthly payments that need to be made, and also by shortening the repayment period so that overburdened borrowers will pay at most only 10 percent of their discretionary income towards repaying their student loans and other education bills. They can also have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years.
Another big improvement in the program is that those students who enter public service after graduation will have their student debt forgiven after 10 years. Additional funding will also be provided for low-cost Perkins student loans and grants. Click here to find other ways to get help with student loans.
Unemployment Aid: With the nation at around 10% unemployment at the beginning of 2010, and the African American unemployment rate even higher at about 16%, the fact is that we need more jobs. There will be additional help provided for those who have been most affected by the recession. Much of this will be offered in the form of cash grants and it will help people pay some of the bills they incur on a monthly basis. For example, there will be an extension of emergency assistance and grants that are available to seniors and families with children, COBRA tax credits, Unemployment Insurance benefits, and additional funds and relief to states and localities so they can expand their resources.
Housing Assistance and Protect Families from Mortgage Fraud: There will be an additional $90 million provided to the federal government HUD agency that will be used to support foreclosure prevention and homeownership through Housing Counseling. Millions of Americans have lost their homes to a foreclosure, and the crisis has also hit black Americans very hard.
But the housing aid doesn’t stop there. Over $20 million will be available to stop mortgage fraud. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (NRC) grant and training programs will receive over $200 million, most of which will be used for foreclosure counseling and prevention. Find additional ways to get mortgage help. More.
Support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities: The latest federal government budget proposes almost $650 million, which is a five percent increase over recent levels, to provide additional resources and support for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This includes Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This should allow more minority students to receive a college education.
Additional Help for Child Care Costs: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families will double. This is per information shared to the Black Leadership Forum. It will increase the middle class tax credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. In addition, almost all families making under $115,000 a year would see a larger credit on their tax returns. The budget also calls for an additional $990 million for the Head Start program as well as the Early Head Start program, which will allow them to continue to serve an additional 65,000 children and families funded in ARRA. Read more on how to get help with child care costs.
Project-Based Rental Assistance Program: Almost 10 billion will be provided for the federal government run Project-Based Rental Assistance program. This program helps all Americans, including minorities and African Americans, find new places to live, or help them stay in their homes or apartments. This investment will help low and moderate income households to obtain or keep decent, safe and sanitary housing. It will stop an eviction, help them pay energy bills, or help the homeless find a place to live. Click here to find additional rent programs.
Increase Pell Grants: The American Recovery Act, better known as the stimulus plan, and the 2009 appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant that can be awarded by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The new budget from President Obama proposes to make that increase permanent and puts the grant program on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000 and also expanding eligibility for the program.
Housing Choice Voucher Program: Additional funds to help more than two million extremely low income families. It will provide them with rental assistance, which will allow individuals and families to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. Big beneficiaries of the Housing Choice grant Program include African Americans and other minorities, as they have been hit hard by the housing crisis and deceptive lending practices.
Fund to Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition: The recent budget provides over $8 billion for discretionary nutrition and food assistance programs. The federal government funding supports over 10 million low and moderate income participants who are in the WIC program, which is critical to the ongoing health and nutrition of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants.
General Assistance from the Community Development Block Grant Program: The proposed federal budget provides almost $5 billion for the Community Development Fund. This is an assistance program that is administered by your local community action agency. Click here to find a listing and more information on community action agencies as well as government programs for African Americans. You will usually need to apply for assistance. If you are qualified they have access to various grant programs that can be used to help pay bills.
Since many of these are government programs, the best place to turn to for more information or to sign up is your local community action agency or your local government office. Find your local community action agency. They have programs for low and moderate income families, African Americans, the elderly, the disabled, and others.
Some of these programs they will administer themselves. However, even if they do not run the program, they will almost always be able to refer you to the correct organization to apply to.