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Middlesex and Suffolk County public assistance programs.

The government of Massachusetts, partnering with Middlesex and Suffolk County, administers several public assistance programs for low income residents, including seniors, the disabled, and working poor. Services can be administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance or Health and Human Services. Resources offered to families in the counties include cash assistance, heating and energy bill grants, health care, food assistance, and more.

Government food assistance programs

There are several programs available in the region. The largest is food stamps, SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is the most popular public assistance program is Massachusetts, and thousands of Boston area and surrounding families get help paying for and buying their food every month from it. You can even have a job and still receive SNAP benefits. Receive help in purchasing food at most supermarkets, pharmacies, grocery stores, and convenience stores in the region. Another major program is the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. It focuses on children and pregnant women, and offers items such as free baby formula, food, and nutrition and health education to families who qualify. It is also free to sign up for.

The counties also offer Nutrition Assistance and Meals for Elders, often in partnership with food pantries around Middlesex County Massachusetts. Free food, canned goods, and supplies for older residents are made available, including to their caregivers.

Schools across the region make available Breakfast and Lunch Programs, which offer nutritionally balanced snacks and meals to children in participating schools.

Cash assistance in Suffolk County as well as Middlesex

One option is the TAFDC, or Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children. It is very short term in nature, and provides cash benefits and public aid to certain families with pregnant women and dependent children. TAFDC is often combined with Access to Jobs. So this ensures people are presented with the means to achieve self-sufficiency. The county and city of Boston provides immediate transportation services to former and current TAFDC recipients who are starting a job or seeking help.





Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children will offer cash benefits and grants to eligible elderly, seniors or disabled individuals as well as their children.

Cash grants are widely available for paying energy, heating, and utility bills from Fuel Assistance or LIHEAP. This is the country’s largest publicly funded low income energy assistance program. It can help people pay for heating their apartment or house during the cold winter months. Fuel assistance can pay for expenses such as heating oil, natural gas, or electricity bills.

Housing programs

Shelters, rental assistance, and housing support is available across Massachusetts. Many Boston and Suffolk County residents need help with the high cost of rent, so the state has some ideas and services for those people. While housing in Middlesex County may be slightly more affordable, it is almost as expensive. Programs, some run by public housing authorities, can help people find affordable housing and secure loans. The counties can also provide information and guidance on housing-related issues, such as code violations, insulation, and more.

The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development administers the low income public and subsidized housing programs in the area. The Emergency Assistance program they run also provides shelter to homeless families and individuals in Suffolk and Middlesex. Social workers and the county also work with community groups, non-profits, advocates, and other municipal and state agencies, including locations in Lowell, to provide an array of housing options to people threatened with eviction, foreclosure, or the loss of their homes. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development administers the emergency housing assistance program through the Division of Housing Stabilization (DHS). Call at 877-418-3308 for resources.

Support Services for Homeless Families can help homeless individuals and family’s transition from homelessness to stable permanent housing or apartments in the area. Or get information on affordable government subsidized housing.




Information is offered by Recipient Services. The government agency can answer questions on public assistance programs in regard to benefit eligibility from current recipients or applicants. Get referrals to Human Service Agencies and non-profits in the region. Call 800-445-6604.

To learn more or applying for public assistance, call or stop by the Department of Transitional Assistance. Offices are located across Suffolk and Middlesex County. Or dial 1-877-382-2363.


By Jon McNamara

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