What Is Government Assistance?

U.S. Department of Agriculture/CC-BY 2.0

Government assistance is defined as government aid given to the disabled, poor, elderly or dependent children. Some examples are financial assistance, health care, housing assistance and food stamps.

Government assistance goes by other names such as federal aid, federal assistance, federal benefits and federal funds. In general, it is any type of federal project, service, program or activity provided by the federal government. These funds and programs help individuals, organizations and state and city governments in many different areas, such as health, public welfare, public safety and education.

Different government agencies control different types of government assistance programs; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are two main ones. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, provides rental assistance through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Medical assistance, such as Medicaid benefits, is provided through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal grants and awards also fall under the category of government assistance. Prospective recipients apply and, if approved, a contractual agreement is entered between the agency and the individual. Some examples of grants include project grants, formula grants and earmark grants. Recipients can be state or local governments, territories and possessions, non-profit organizations and individuals.