Benefit Programs

Cooling Assistance

Energy Assistance

Winchester Social Services operates three federally mandated Energy Assistance Programs with heating and cooling components for all citizens with economic need (must meet income and non-financial requirements):

  • Cooling Assistance Program - During the summer, this program provides for the purchase of window air conditioners and fans, or for repair of cooling equipment and/or payment for electricity for households containing a vulnerable individual who is aged, disabled or under age six. Applications accepted beginning June 15. There are three ways to apply:
  • Fuel Assistance Program - Helps with home heating fuel and related charges. Benefits are determined and authorizations for deliveries or services are sent to vendors in December.
  • Crisis Assistance - Intended to meet a household's emergency heating needs. This assistance offers heating equipment repair or purchase and/or a one-time only heat security deposit. Purchase of home heating fuel or payment of heat utility bill is available beginning January 1st.

For more information:

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street


Food Assistance - SNAP

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formally the Food Stamp Program, will help you buy nutritious food for your household. You may also buy seeds or plants to grow your own food.  SNAP benefits are issued electronically to eligible households. 

If you qualify for food assistance, you will get a card to use at the authorized retailers to buy food.  This card is called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card, which will debit the account each time eligible food items are purchased. A secret Personal Identification Number (PIN) is required to use the EBT card. Authorized retailers will display either the Quest logo or a picture of the Virginia EBT card. 

CommonHelpFor more information:

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

Apply online with CommonHelp.

Medical Assistance Programs

There are several Medical Assistance Programs offered in Virginia. Each program covers different groups of people and each program has different eligibility requirements. When you apply for Medical Assistance, you are screened for all possible programs based on your age, income, financial resources, and other information. To be eligible for a Medical Assistance Program, you must meet the financial and non-financial eligibility conditions for that program.

Medicaid and the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan (FAMIS) are Medical Assistance programs that make direct payments to health care service providers for eligible individuals and families who are unable to pay for needed medical services.

To be eligible for Medicaid or FAMIS, a person must have income and resources (assets) within a specified limit and must be in one of the groups covered by Medicaid.  Medicaid covered groups include:

  • Children under age 19 years
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults age 65 years or older
  • Blind individuals
  • Individuals who are disabled according to the standards adopted by the Social Security Administration
  • Medicare Beneficiaries
  • Plan First-Family Planning Services
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
  • Children or Adults who need long-term care in a facility

CommonHelpFor more information: 

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Department of Medical Assistance Service 
  3. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

Apply online with CommonHelp.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides temporary financial assistance to eligible families with children.  To be eligible, a family must be financially needy and must meet certain other requirements.  An eligible child must be under age 18, or if 18, expected to graduate from high school before age 19; going to school regularly if he is between the ages of 5 and 18; living with a parent or other relative; and a citizen of the United States or an eligible immigrant.

An applicant must cooperate in naming the parents of all eligible children and must help establish paternity for each child.  The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) will send all support collected for this child directly to the family.  A child will not be eligible if born to or adopted by a TANF recipient more than 10 months after an applicant begins receiving TANF.

The amount of the TANF check is based on the size of the family. A family may still be eligible to receive TANF while receiving money from other sources. 

If you receive TANF, you may be required to participate in the Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW) program.  Families in the VIEW program may earn income and receive a TANF check. However, the total income cannot be more than the federal poverty level for the family size.  A family with someone in VIEW may receive TANF for no longer than 24 months followed by a period of 24 months ineligibility. A family may receive TANF no more than a total of 60 months in a lifetime.

CommonHelpFor more information:

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

Apply online with CommonHelp.

Child Care Subsidy

The Child Care Subsidy Program provides financial assistance to eligible families to help pay for the cost of child care so they can work or attend education or training programs. The Child Care Subsidy Program services are child-centered and family-focused and support the broader objective of strengthening families’ goals of economic self-sufficiency and quality early childhood programs for their children. Participating families may select any legally operating child day care facility eligible to participate in the program.

CommonHelpFor more information:

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

Apply online with CommonHelp.

Auxiliary Grant

An Auxiliary Grant (AF) is an income supplement for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind, or disabled individuals who reside in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF) or an approved adult foster care (AFC) home.

An AG payment is issued to an individual monthly, to be used with a designated amount of their monthly income to pay an ALF or AFC a maximum monthly rate. This rate is determined by the Virginia General Assembly and is adjusted periodically.

The AG Program is 80 percent state funded and 20 percent locally funded and is administered by the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. It is only for individuals who reside in an ALF licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services' Division of Licensing Programs or in an AFC home approved by their local department of social services. Not all ALFs accept AG payments.

Prior to admission to an ALF, an individual must be assessed by an adult services worker at their local department of social services or another qualified assessor. Qualified assessors are employees of local health departments, area agencies on aging, centers for independent living, and community services boards who have received training on conducting assessments. The individual applying for an AG, or the individual’s designated representative, should contact an assessor and request the assessment.

AG applicants must complete an Application for Benefits and submit it to department of social services in the city or county where the individual lived prior to entering an institution such as an ALF, hospital or nursing home. The eligibility worker will evaluate the individual’s financial eligibility for AG. The worker has 45 days to process the application.

AG recipients also receive a personal needs allowance (PNA) for such items as clothing, medical co-payments, tobacco products, sodas, snacks, over-the-counter medications, dental care, eyeglasses, and activities or items an ALF or AFC provider is not required to provide.

For more information:

  1. Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

General Relief

Winchester Social Services provides burial assistance for eligible individuals. The maximum expenditure allowed for burial assistance provided to eligible individuals shall be $600.00 for funeral and/or cemetery services. 

Burial assistance includes:

  • Professional and Administrative Services
  • Preparation Services
  • Facility and equipment
  • Automotive equipment
  • Minimum casket
  • Minimum outside container
  • Opening and closing
  • Burial Space

Burial assistance shall be provided with the following provisions:  Non-Responsible relatives are allowed to supplement funeral and cemetery costs over and above the department's maximum allowable rate of $600.00.  Resources of deceased individuals and supplements from responsible relatives shall be applied to offset the department's maximum allowable rate of $600.00. Resources of deceased individuals would include, but not limited to: bank accounts, patient fund accounts, life insurance policies insuring the deceased individual and burial space.   Funeral homes, upon determining the likelihood/necessity of GR Burial Assistance by the deceased individual and prior to finalization of the arrangements, shall immediately notify the department and refer the family/representative to the department during regular departmental working hours or the next regular work day for  explanation of the burial assistance policy, and  determination of eligibility.

For more information: Winchester Department of Social Services, (540) 662-3807, 24 Baker Street

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides decent, affordable housing to very low- to low-income individuals and families, including people with disabilities and senior citizens. Vouchers are distributed through Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) in partnership with local housing agency partners. VHDA contracts with the City of Winchester to administer this program.  Vouchers allow qualifying prospective tenants to select from a wider range of housing options, as opposed to being limited to designated housing projects. The program pays the difference between the voucher payment standard and 30% of the participant’s monthly adjusted income towards rent and utilities.

To participate in the program, a family must apply to a local housing agent and be certified as eligible. They are allowed to seek housing from landlords who wish to participate. The family may select the housing in which they currently reside or move to another home. Any rental housing, including single family homes, apartments and mobile homes, qualifies as long as it is in decent, safe and sanitary condition, as defined by program Housing Quality Standards. Every month, the landlord receives two checks: one from the family and one from VHDA. Payments will be made for the term of the specified contract.

For landlords interested in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, please visit: |

The Winchester Housing Choice Voucher Program only serves families that live/work in the City of Winchester. Anyone may apply but those applicants who live/work in Winchester are placed on the waiting list ahead of those who do not live/work in the city of Winchester. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program Contacts: 
(Last name A-J) Jean Richardson
(Last name K-Z) Sherry Richards

Eligibility is determined by household income and based on family size.

City of Winchester Waiting List Selection Process

Applicants are selected in order of date and time of application by preference.

  1. First preference is given to applicants living and/or working in the City of Winchester.
  2. Second preference is given to those applicants who are Working Families: Families where the head, spouse, or sole member is either employed, is age 62 or older, or is a person with disabilities.
  3. Third preference is given to those applicants who are Homeless: “Any person or family that lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; or is living in a shelter, an institution that provides a temporary assistance, or a public or private place not designated for regular sleeping accommodation”.
  4. All other applicants are selected after preference holders are selected in order of date and time of their application.


  • The Waiting List for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8, is currently closed. 
  • If you are an applicant that has a pending application for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, notify our office in writing of any changes in your local preferences. When applicants are pulled off the waiting list, staff will attempt to contact the applicant twice by mail. If our office is unable to make contact with the applicant their name will be removed from the waiting list. The applicant will then need to reapply when the waiting list is open to receive new applicatons. 

Other Resources

Fair Housing posters in six different languages:

Virginia Housing Development Authority