City of Portsmouth to give out $500 Visa gift cards to eligible families

In-person applications opened on the evening of June 1. Qualifying families will receive the $500 gift cards on a later date, after submitting their application.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Some families in Portsmouth could be eligible for a $500 Visa gift card from the city. The in-person application process opened Wednesday evening. 

A long line formed outside the Portsmouth Department of Social Services as people withstood the heat and eagerly waited their turn.

You must be a Portsmouth resident and at least 18 years old to apply.

The “Direct Pay Program” is only available to households who fall between a certain annual income threshold. View this chart below to see, if you meet the criteria:

These families typically aren’t eligible for assistance from Social Services programs, according to a news release. It’s all possible, thanks to American Rescue Plan funding. 

Folks waiting in line said that $500 will go a long way.

“Yes, it does. It really does. It means a lot because it means I could pay a light bill. I could make some groceries,” said resident Marie Clark. “Times are just hard out here.” 

Others in line — including Clark — expressed concern, however. They claimed they did not receive accommodations to make the wait more comfortable while outside.  

Workers at the Portsmouth Department of Social Services will take applications and documents every day from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. until August 1. You can find them at 1701 High Street, Suite 101.


  • Submit an application with an ID
  • Provide a 2020 IRS Tax return or IRS transcript for proof of the gross earned income; Official documents from income source for other income
  • Provide verification of residency

The $500 gift cards will not be distributed on the same day as the application submission.

For more information, city officials said you can call 757-393-8815 between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.