New Hanover County public assistance and social services.

The New Hanover County human service department can help working poor and low income families access the public benefits they need for short and long term support. There are many resources available for the working poor and residents that are facing poverty, and the social workers from the county can provide advice along with applications.

Energy bill assistance is available. This will focus on low-income households, in particular a home with a senior citizen, disabled person, or young child. LIHEAP is available throughout the year, for those that have applied during the fall enrollment period.

There is assistance in New Hanover and Wilmington for those that are experiencing a heating or cooling-related emergency, and these individuals can turn to the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) for help. The county also partners with local community action agencies that will take the lead on administering this LIHEAP program.

Families can use public assistance from LIHEAP to pay electric bills and deposits and cover the costs of heating expenses, including kerosene, natural gas, oil, propane, wood, coal, heaters, fans and furnace repairs. Qualified households must have an income level that is 150% below federal government poverty standards, and this threshold can also change each year.

The New Hanover also partners closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on ensuring there is funding and that any public aid only goes to eligible households. All grants are paid out on a first come and served basis to income qualified families.

There are certain times to apply as well. Elderly and/or disabled individuals can normally apply for LIHEAP in October or November of each year, while all others can apply after that. Proof of income and other information will always be required as well.

The Gingerpread Christmas assistance program is for children involved in DSS programs. Agencies, such as Department of Social Services, the Guardian Ad Litem Association, and the New Hanover County Department of Human Resources offer free gifts, toys, and small present to those that qualify.




Families facing poverty, the unemployed, and other struggling low income households can make use of the Food Stamp program to alleviate hunger. This federal government funded program distributes Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which can be used to purchase food or groceries at participating authorized retailers. The aid can be issued to applicants in a timeframe ranging from 7 to 30 days.

Faith Community Fund is made up of donations from people and businesses in the county. While the amount of funds is very limited, there can be money for school supplies or food and other basic needs. There may also be financial aid for foster children and their bills, summer camp expenses, and other emergency expenses.

One focus is on residents that would be in a crisis without help. So volunteers and the Faith Fund will prioritize grants for senior citizens. Another focus is on households with young children, including single parents, and they too may receive food or housing from this resource. Churches across Wilmington play a critical role in this service.

Combined with many of this public benefits is the Work First Employment Services. This helps clients become self-sufficient through job training, part time employment, work experience and supportive casework. Families on welfare or any type of cash assistance from New Hanover social services are required to work, and most recipients have two years to move off welfare.

Work First was created by the state of North Carolina and the federal government to be based on the premise that parents, regardless of their background, have an obligation to support themselves and their children. Although this program offers short-term training, childcare assistance, financial aid and other services to help families become financially independent, responsibility ultimately falls upon clients to achieve self-sufficiency.





Federal and state of North Carolina funds are available to subsidize childcare costs for income-eligible parents that are in training or employed. Families in New Hanover County who receive such financial assistance can select a childcare program according to their preference, provided that DSS has approved them as a provider.

Medicaid is a state and federal health insurance program designed for certain low-income and needy individuals. The resource receives funding, and it will offer care for children who are under 19 years of age, the disabled, and very low income. In addition to this benefit, children may also qualify for free or low-cost health insurance via Health Choice, and Medicaid for Pregnant Women is available too.

Another option known as Medicaid for Adults is intended for individuals whose income is below levels established by the federal government. Medicaid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled covers persons who are over 65 years of age, blind or disabled with an income level that is at least 100% of the poverty standard. In addition to all of those option, public assistance can help pay the expenses of medically necessary intermediate -care nursing homes or other facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The address of the DSS in New Hanover is County Government Complex, and the street is 230 Government Center Drive in North Carolina. For information, dial 910-798-7311.



By Jon McNamara

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