As a single mother, it is your job to keep a roof over your children’s head, put food on the table, and keep your children happy and safe.
But what happens when you can’t afford to provide even basic housing for your family?
This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. But there is help.
If you have recently been laid off, you are recently separated, or you are living with a very low income, you may need a little help paying your rent. Luckily, there are several forms of assistance you can take advantage of.
According to the U.S. Census, located at www.census.gov, a total of 7 million single parent families live in the United States. 71% of these families, led by single mothers, rent their homes instead of buying them, with the majority living in populated metropolitan areas.
According to the census, one in three single parent renters have extreme cost burdens due to lower incomes and have difficulty paying their rent each month and look for rental assistance for single mothers from both the government and non-profit organizations.
Government Programs to Help Single Mothers
The government provides many rental assistance programs for single mothers who are unable to afford their rent.
Here are just a few:
- Section 8 Housing – Section 8 Housing, also known as the housing choice voucher program is offered through the federal government via HUD, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program provides single mothers with vouchers and will pay the majority of the family’s rent directly to the landlord. Under this program, individuals can choose any type of housing to rent, as long as it is approved by HUD, and receive monthly assistance on their rent.
- FEMA – If your home has been damaged by a natural disaster, and is currently uninhabitable, FEMA is able to provide rental assistance. This program’s assistance is only temporary, but can be very helpful until your home is repaired and livable again or you are able to obtain other long-term housing arrangements.
- Public Housing – Throughout the U.S., there are approximately 1.2 million individuals residing in public housing. This type of housing, offered through HUD, provides low income families, the elderly, and the disabled with decent and safe housing that is affordable. Rent for this housing is based on your total gross income and provides from allowances if the home is occupied by families with dependants, elderly individuals, and the disabled.
Volunteers and Charities
If you are a single mother renting a home and having difficulty making your monthly rent payment, there are several volunteers and charities that may be able to assist you in paying this bill.
These charities are generally used by single mothers in need of one-time emergency assistance.
- YWCA – The YWCA is an organization with locations in nearly every major city in the United States. Their mission is to support those in need in their community, and they work to specifically support women. Women who need assistance quickly on their rent and face becoming homeless without some help are able to find both emergency housing and rental assistance from this organization. For assistance, visit your local YWCA or visit www.ywca.org.
- Salvation Army – Like the YWCA, the Salvation Army is available to many women all over the U.S. and is a great resource for those who are in need of rental assistance and have nowhere else to turn. The Salvation Army can also assist you with your heating, cooling, utility, and electric bills. To apply for assistance, visit your local Salvation Army or visit www.uss.salvationarmy.org.
- CoAbode - This charity program is especially designed for single mothers. Once you apply, you are put in contact with other single mothers in your area so you can room together and share all of the household expenses. For more information and to learn how to apply, visit www.coabode.org.
Where and How to Apply
If you are interested in applying for rental assistance through HUD, you must first determine the following.
- Are you eligible? If you wish to Apply for Section 8 Housing or Public Housing, you must have a very low income, have references that highlight you as a good tenant, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and have a real need for low income housing and rental assistance.
- Where will you apply? Information on how to apply is located on HUD’s website, www.hud.gov. However, in order to fill out an application for assistance, you must visit your county’s local housing authority. If you are having trouble locating this local office, visit www.hud.gov/local/index.cfm or contact your local Department of Human Services.
- What do you need to apply? The application for rental assistance involves a lot of paperwork, and you will need to be sure to have all of your information handy when filling it out. Be sure you have your personal id, birth certificate, social security number, check stubs or tax returns that verify your monthly or annual income if it will be the same for the next twelve months, your telephone number, and the names and addresses of all your former landlords. You will also need to provide information on all of the individuals that will be living with you in your new home.
To apply for FEMA assistance, due to a natural disaster, you can visit www.disasterassistance.gov to fill out an online application or call 1-800-621-FEMA to apply over the phone. FEMA will then send you a copy of your application through the mail and will assess your home to determine whether it is livable or not.
If you qualify for a rental assistance grant, you will be provided with the money you need to rent alternate housing. It is important to understand that any receipts you receive during this time for your rent should be saved.
If you need to apply for another grant later on, when the funds are used up, you will be required to show these receipts so FEMA can verify you spent the money correctly.
Single mothers have a lot of responsibility, and sometimes you may not have the funds to provide your family with the housing they need. If you are struggling to pay your rent, take advantage of the many government assistance and charity programs that are available to you.