Updated with latest information as of November 2014…
There is housing assistance for single mothers available from the government and from other sources.
This article focuses on housing assistance and is applicable to single mothers (who often fall at the lower end of the income scale) BUT the information here applies just as well to any individual / household looking for housing assistance, such as senior citizens, disabled persons, low income households, single dads, etc. In fact, every single one of these programs is general in nature and does NOT SPECIFICALLY TARGET WOMEN or SINGLE MOMS.
If you are a homeowner and find it difficult making payments or cannot make payments (and face the threat of foreclosure), please read our highly detailed Mortgage Assistance Guide: Help Me Pay My Mortgage
Since that article exhaustively covers this topic, we won’t go into details on this page. Suffice to say there are a number of federal, state, local and no-profit organizations that do offer assistance with your mortgage, should you find it difficult to make payments or are unable to make payments.
The solutions offered range from refining loan with new lender, loan modification, cash grants to temporary pay your mortgage, loan mediation, principal reduction and free housing council.
Look at our full Rent Assistance Guide for complete details on finding assistance making rent payments. There are federal, state, and local level aid programs you can seek out IF YOU CANNOT PAY YOUR RENT.
Rent Assistance from the State
Some states do offer rent assistance programs. These programs will help with some housing expenses, security deposits, and even with some of your rent. Go to our State Assistance page to see an overview of some of the Rent Assistance offered. Also contact your Community Action Agency, which is a government-backed agency and should have information about any rent assistance programs in your area.
Rent Assistance from Federal Government
There are some programs offered by the federal government that do offer rent assistance.
Federal Stimulus Program A stimulus program that allocates grant money to help people pay their rent. The rental assistance comes from a program under the Federal Stimulus called The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). The funds are handed down to the state and local level, so you’ll have to apply for this though an agency. The assistance offered by HPRP focuses on preventing families from becoming homeless. It does so by offering counseling and financial assistance, where necessary. There are even funds allocated to help the homeless stay in specialized housing. What Funding is Given? Money is given directly towards security deposits, short or long term rental assistance, utility bills, moving costs, hotel and motel vouchers. Other help is offered as well such as legal counsel, house searching, court help, landlord assistance, etc. Who Can Get It? The HPRP is specifically aimed at households (or individuals) who are at dire risk of losing their home and becoming homeless. HPRP will provide temporary assistance in the form of rent help, utility bill help, moving assistance, and council to prevent homelessness. The idea here is to keep an individual or family from homelessness in a sustainable way (i.e. the household becomes self sufficient). The other group this stimulus aims at helping are the current homeless. Money is used to provide shelters, counselling, and other services to break persons out of the homelessness.
Note, funds are no longer available from this program now
Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
Part of the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) rental assistance program. This is a federal program and the largest assistance source for housing in the country. This program is aimed at low income households and provides a variety of services including rent assistance in the form of vouchers for specific private, low income housing. Some funds may also be given as partial rent payment, depending on a household’s income.
The way it works is The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives funds to public housing agencies (PHAs) who administer a voucher program offering housing choice vouchers. Notably, single mothers are able to choose a single-family home, a townhouse, or an apartment, as long as the unit meets the program’s requirements, so that they are not limited to living in subsidized housing projects.
The housing choice vouchers provide rent assistance. The single mother sources a dwelling place that is healthy and safe, according to the PHA’s standards, where the owner is willing to participate in the program. The PHA directly pays the landlord the subsidized portion of the rent, and the single mom pays the difference. The program is open to both US citizens and eligible non-citizens. Further information on:
- how to apply,
- the amount of the rent subsidy,
- relocation options,
- the roles of the parties involved in the program, and
- other pertinent matters, is available at
Note that there are a number of different rental assistance programs offered by HUD:
- Section 8 Housing Vouchers (discussed above)
- Section 202 Housing Vouchers for Senior Citizens
- Section 811 Housing Vouchers for Disabled
USDA Rural Development
Another federal program that offers rental assistance to families that live in RURAL areas. The assistance can take the form of vouchers or directly. The way it usually works is a grant is given out which pays the difference between what the tenant can afford to pay out of their income and the cost of the rent. Applicants typically have to be very low income to no income to get accepted into the program.
To apply for this you’ll either need to directly contact the USDA Rural Development office in your area.
Transitional Housing Assistance Program
There’s assistance in the form of grant money made available to women (and families — not just women) via the Transitional Housing Assistance Program. Basically, this targets families / women of face homelessness OR who suffer from domestic abuse and need to move to a new housing situation. The fund is setup to provide assistance on all levels for the affected women such as housing, daycare services, counseling, support groups, and even employment. The grant money can be used to pay rent, utilities, and other associated costs.
See more details about this program here: http://www.mass.gov/hed/housing/ph-manage/mlhath.html
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (Rental Assistance for Veterans )
There are special assistance programs from the government that target veterans. The specific program is called the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. It offers much of what the HUD or USDA Rural Development programs do, but specifically for veterans. This means that the competition for these programs is much less and you are far more likely to qualify for the help because of it.
Nonprofit and Charities Rental Assistance
Besides the various government rental assistance programs listed above, there are a number of assistance programs offered by charities, religious organizations, private organizations, and nonprofits.
Here’s a breakdown:
Religious Organizations (Churches): Look at your area’s churches for rental assistance. These are usually funded by community donations. It’s possible to find emergency shelter, help with basic utilities, free food, etc. The level of assistance varies depending, so you’ll have to look around your local area and make calls.
Nonprofit Short term and transitional housing programs: these are basically programs set up by nonprofits or government affiliated agencies that help evicted or homeless households relocate to temporary shelter or find low income housing. Besides helping with shelters and housing, these programs also focus on education and information to create self sufficiency.
Charities: nonprofit organizations that can provide services such as emergency shelter, social services, free food, and council.
- Catholic Charities
- Salvation Army
- Legal Aid Society
- United Way
- Community Action Agencies
- College Courts Apartments:If the single mother has two or three children and is attending school herself, another housing solution could be the College Courts Apartments available through Murray State University’s Housing Office, as long as she can afford the rental amount. The Courts’ two-bedroom facilities are fully furnished and reasonably priced, and would be ideal if travel issues would also be addressed. Information on how to acquire one of those apartments is available at http://www.murraystate.edu/secsv/hous/colcts.htm.
- YWCA: The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) is another organization which provides rental housing assistance for single mothers. This shelter can be temporary or permanent, and is available to single mothers, but especially to those mothers leaving abusive situations. Information on how to access this assistance can be obtained at http://www.ywca.org/siteapps/custom/ywca/local.aspx?c=djISI6PIKpG&b=281414.
- Mercy Housing: Another non-profit organization called Mercy Housing, also offers affordable apartments for rent. They have offices in several states in the USA, from which information can be obtained. For example, the Chicago office in Illinois can be reached at https://www.mercyhousing.org/Document.Doc?id=27.
- Atlantic City Housing Authority Rental Assistance Program: A tenant-based assistance program, the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program, is offered by the federal government and is managed by the Atlantic City Housing Authority Rental Assistance Program. Eligibility into the program is determined by the household’s income, which must be at or below a specific amount, and media announcements are made inviting applications at certain times. More information can be obtained at http://www.rentassistance.us/li/atlantic-city-housing-authority-rental-assistance-program.
- The Salvation Army: the most comprehensive charity in the country, one that offers many services to women and single mothers such as food stuff, rental assistance, temporary shelters, counselling, job help, etc.
- Catholic Charities:a charity the focuses on helping one get a new start in life. Rent and housing assistance is offered to single moms (and children). The idea is to help mothers become self sustaining and education and structure is provided along that idea
CoAbode: a free service that specifically targets single moms, offered by a nonprofit organization. CoAbode provides rental assistance to moms by splitting all housing costs (rent and utilities) between other single parents, all of who are screened. The end result is you end up living with other single parents in the same situation as yourself and you split costs meaning it’s cheaper to live.
- The Nurturing Network: this is a charity that specializing in helping women who are in crisis (specifically through unplanned pregnancy). Aid is via rental and housing assistance.
- Bridge of Hope: a non profit that helps at-risk single mothers who face homelessness with permanent housing, counselling, and job mentoring’
Eviction / Foreclosure Assistance
If you are facing an eviction from your home, there are government and nonprofit assistance programs that will help you, either move to a new place (temporary shelter intern), help you fight the eviction, fight foreclosure for you, provide legal council and case management, or just information about what to do. These programs are not permanent solutions, but rather temporary stopgaps that help you get back on your feet. They all target low income individuals.
The government program is Eviction Prevention Program (EPP). The program is administered by various organizations. To apply, you should contact your local Community Action Agency.
Do read our How To Prevent Foreclosure Article
Buying a Home Assistance
If you are buying or building or reneventing a home, there may be some assistance options that can give you a bit of a boost. For many of you here, you won’t fall under this category, but it’s worth including for sake of completeness.
There is also the possibility that the single mother could use her housing choice voucher acquired from the Housing and Urban Development to purchase a modest home, with the public housing agency’s permission. In addition, there are homeownership vouchers issued by certain PHAs under the Homeownership Voucher Program, also for single mothers who would like to purchase their first home, but needs assistance with the monthly mortgage and other related expenses. A list of the PHAs who participate in this program is available from local PHA offices.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This includes a number of services, but one of the services is that you can apply for a grant that will help pay for weatherization of your home to make it more energy efficient. This is basically free money that will save you money on the installation / modification on your home and save you money on your energy bill over the long run. You can apply for this program at your local Community Action Agency
Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)
This program is suitable for single mothers who wish to purchase a house in Washington DC, and they can receive up to $44,000 worth of financial assistance for this purpose. The funds can be used for a down payment or closing costs, or both, and has a low-interest five-year deferred loan feature. District of Columbia residents are given application acceptance preference over non-residents, but non-residents are not barred from applying for assistance. To qualify for this housing solution, the single mother:
- has to head the household as a first-time purchaser,
- must be a low or middle income resident,
- must be going to live in the house that must be located in the District, and
- must have a good credit rating.
Further information on eligibility and procedure for applying can be obtained at http://www.gwul.org/programs/housing/hpap.
American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI)
The ADDI provides funds to all US states, and targets low-income and minority households, which means that single mothers are included. An amount of $10,000 or six percent of the house’s purchase price, depending on which is greater, is provided for:
- closing costs, and
- rehabilitation assistance.
Rehabilitation includes reducing lead paint hazards and remedying other home health hazards, and this must be completed within one year of the purchase. Eligibility for funding involves not having ownership of a home during the 3-year period preceding the funding request, thereby rendering the single mother a first-time purchaser, and she must be purchasing the home for a single family. Other relevant information can be obtained from the program’s website, at
Building a Home Assistance
If you are looking at building a new house but need some assistance with this there are some programs to look at, location depending. Keep in mind there may be some GRANTS available for you to remodel/renovate your home to be more energy efficient. The government rewards this with grant money to help offset the costs.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian, non-profit housing organization which, along with the prospective owners, builds them decent, simple, and affordable houses. These are quite suitable for single mothers, who are required to help to provide volunteer labor, while other individuals and corporations donate cash and materials for building. The houses are sold to the families at 0% interest with no profit earned, just low mortgage payments that are used to build other houses. This housing solution is available in all 50 US states and in many countries around the world.
Habitat for Humanity – New York
This organization builds quality homes that low-income single mothers living in New York City can afford. The program offered by Habitat for Humanity – New York, uses professionals and volunteers to supply healthy, well-built, green, homes that are energy efficient, where the owners:
- pay a 2% mortgage,
- contribute a 1% cash down payment, and
- receive property-tax abatements.
Qualifications for this kind of housing aid include:
- earning 50%-80% of the city’s median income,
- possession of a good credit score,
- being a first time homeowner, and
- the single mother must be willing to participate in the building of her own home.
A visit to http://www.habitatnyc.org/pdf/housing/homeowner_brochure.pdf will provide precise information on this solution.
Habitat for Humanity – Detroit
The program in this state offers a non-discriminatory housing solution to low-income families. There is a Family Services Department which offers financial literacy training, and counseling services, among others, to families who have difficulty making mortgage payments. To qualify for this housing assistance, single mothers need to:
- complete 250-400 sweat equity hours, which are scheduled by the Department, and which earns an interest-free mortgage,
- work on the construction of their own and other families’ homes,
- volunteer in Habitat’s ReStore to help in the selling of construction materials, appliances, and other supplies, as well as
- participate in classroom-based financial literacy training regarding timely payments, etc.
Visiting http://www.habitatdetroit.org/home_ownership/ownership_overview/ is a pre-requisite for applying for assistance.
Final Word for Moms in Need of Housing Assistance
Single mothers, partly because of their status, have a tendency to need various kinds of assistance. Housing assistance for single mothers is just one type of help needed, for various reasons, including inadequate educational qualifications and hence inadequate income. Fortunately, there are various solutions available which enable single mothers to rent, purchase, and even build new units, and these are available through funding from the federal government, as well as private organizations. You might also want to check out our financial assistance for single mothers article as well and also our Housing Assistance Resource page which has links to some housing assistance programs — there may be some related information you find useful.