With record unemployment and many rental markets at record highs, there are no shortage of single moms who need help finding affordable, safe housing. There are a myriad of programs to help mothers in these situations. Let’s take a look at the most comprehensive programs offered.
Emergency Housing Assistance for Single Moms
If you currently do not have housing, then you must act immediately. Approximately 80% of homeless cases include mothers and their children. There is no shame in being in this situation, but it is imperative that you take the appropriate steps to get your family to safety right away.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is a government program that provides cash benefits for emergency situations. The benefits provided vary state by state, and the best way to find out what you’re eligible for is to contact your state’s DHS office. While the specific requirements vary in different states, the following general guidelines apply in all states:
- Only American citizens or permanent residents are eligible for TANF, and you must be a resident of the state in which you’re requesting TANF.
- There are income requirements. These will vary state by state, and they include not just income but assets as well.
- Individuals are not eligible for TANF. You must have children to qualify.
The temporary cash assistance is given in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (aka EBT), which works exactly like a debit card. The money can be used for everyday expenses or whatever is needed to help in a time of immediate need. In many situations, TANF aid can be given out on the same day you apply for it.
How to Find Local Shelters
There are many local shelters across the country that can provide temporary help in the event that you become homeless. The first step is to call 211, which will give you referrals to resources in your area. You can also find YWCA or Life Haven shelters, both of which can be located using the Wellesley Directory of Women’s Shelters.
Finding An Affordable Apartment
Single mother’s with gainful employment often have trouble finding housing that’s both affordable and safe. These programs are designed to help make rents affordable in safe neighborhoods.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
This program provides assistance to families who are looking to rent a single family home, which includes apartments or mobile homes. The vouchers can sometimes be used towards a down payment to purchase a home as well.
One of the most well known federal programs is Section Eight, which offers assistance for people who need to find a private home or apartment. What many people don’t know is that Section 8 can actually help you stay in your apartment as well. If you currently live in a home or apartment and your financial situation has changed drastically enough that you’re no longer able to afford it, then Section 8 may be able to offset some of the cost.
Assistance With Purchasing a Home or Avoiding Foreclosure
The ideal of course is to purchase your own home. There are numerous programs in place to help make home ownership affordable. Likewise, for those who already own a home and can no longer afford the payments, there are programs for you.
Making Home Affordable Program
If you currently have a mortgage on a home and can no longer afford the payments, then the Making Home Affordable Program may be the right choice for you. It helps families avoid foreclosure through mortgage modifications that reduce payments, or by providing refinancing options to lower interest rates and payments.
American Dream Down Payment Initiative
If you’d like to purchase your own home and could make monthly mortgage payments, but can’t afford the down payment, then the federal HOME program is your best bet. If your gross annual income is less than 80% of the median county in which you currently reside, then you may be eligible for the program. There are actually several different ways this program can help.
One of the most impressive is the American Dream Down Payment Initiative (otherwise known as ADDI), which is designed to help first-time home buyers get the help they need to purchase a home. The program offers down payment and closing costs for low-income folks who’ve never bought a home before.
Getting into the home or apartment of your dreams is just the first step. You must then take steps to ensure that you’re able to pay your expenses and save to avoid financial distress in the future. Here are a few programs that can help reduce your month to month expenses.
Day Care Programs
For many single mothers, day care costs as much as 50% of their take home pay. In most areas, there is daycare assistance available which can pay all or a part of your daycare expenses. Typically the approved daycare facility is paid directly by the program, and if you owe a co-pay you’ll pay it to the daycare provider. Contact your local DSS office to see if you qualify for day care assistance.
Help With Utilities
The LIHEAP program (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) can help families who struggle with paying their utility bills. Applicants are approved based on a number of factors, including family size, income, and the area in which they live.