Shelby County public aid and benefits.

Residents of Shelby County can call upon their local social service office for help, as there are several in the county. They offer very low income families access to a number of services, ranging from food to housing and government programs such as LIHEAP. The unemployed, or even people just seeking new skills, can also benefit from job training and one stop centers in both Memphis and across the county as well.

The state of Tennessee housing programs cover a variety of needs, and include everything from more publicly created section 8 vouchers to LIHEAP. Referrals to agencies that offer emergency payments may be available from Department of Human Services for rent or utility service, and the goal is to prevent low-income families from being evicted or having their power shut off.

DHS supplies information about affordable apartments, shelters or housing units to individuals who are currently homeless. They have information on both private and public housing, and the agency can also refer such individuals to loan programs for help paying rent or security deposits. In addition, individuals facing homelessness can access free legal aid to learn their rights in regards to evictions.

Families in need, with a focus on members with disabled or senior member, can turn to the county for financial assistance with utility bills, including heating costs too. The organization offers grants to qualified clients to help them cover the cost keep the electricity on in their homes.

Case managers help clients apply for programs that reduce home-energy expenditures, such as the federal government sponsored Weatherization Assistance or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, both of which are part of CSBG funding. The agency assists low-income individuals in developing modified payment plans for utility service as well.

Discounted prescription medications and other medical care is available from both public health care programs, such as TennCare or Medicaid, as well as private sources. There is aid for low-income families who are either uninsured or underinsured.

Using these DHS programs, residents can get help with filling prescriptions ordered by doctors or pharmacists and supplies medical items to clients when funds or donations are available. In order to be eligible for this service, applicants must provide Social Security cards, picture identification, proof of income and documentation regarding all household members.




Shelby County DHS coordinates food assistance and hunger prevention. The agency helps needy individuals obtain meals or free food. The agency directs clients to local pantries and provides applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Moreover, the social service department manages lists of places people can turn to for help.

Families First is the Shelby County version of TANF. This will offer limited public assistance to families, while they gain employment. So it is available as a short term, bridge type program that people can turn to for bills as they gain self-sufficiency.

Seasonal programs are operated in Memphis too, and the human service department can provide referrals to them. This programs typically rely on donations and volunteers, to supply low-income families with basic needs. For example, there may be clothing closets that have backpacks, notebooks, school supplies and clothing. This, and more, can be provided to students during the summer and early fall.

Local churches and charities also offer meals and gifts to impoverished individuals for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, with priority given to senior citizens, children and very-low-income persons. The center partners with charity organizations, such as the Salvation Army, to manage other seasonal programs.

Employment services are available at the job bank, which is a publicly funded service. The county posts local employment opportunities at its main office. The agency also helps individuals enroll in government supported training.




Individuals under 21 years of age can gain work experience through the summer youth employment program, which is a service offered by the mayor’s task force. The program helps clients find positions at local nonprofit organizations, charity groups or churches.

The state also has staff members who have been certified by the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs to assist clients with general consumer complaints. This ranges from a number of resources, such as housing discrimination, debt collection, illegal eviction and predatory lending are some of the issues for which the agency can provide support.

The main number is 1-866-311-4287, or the local offices are below.

40 South Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103, dial (901) 543-7351
North Branch Office - Family Assistance is at 3230 Jackson Ave., Memphis, TN telephone (901) 320-7200
3360 South Third Street, 40 South Main Street, Memphis, TN. Telephone - (901) 344-5040
Memphis Area Career Center, 444 North Main. Call the office at (901) 545-2252




By Jon McNamara

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