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Help for single moms in Iowa: 32 assistance programs

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If you’re a single mom in Iowa struggling to make ends meet, keep reading for resources that help with: 

Every month, I give out $500 cash to one single mom struggling with money, health, stress, child care, illness or loneliness — no strings attached. 

Qualifications are simple:

1. You're a single mom.

2. You need the money right now.

Fill out this form to apply:

(Note that the figures and information in this post are current as of publication date.)

Many of the programs on this list determine eligibility as a percentage of the federal poverty level (FPL). These are the 2024 federal poverty guidelines:

Number of people in family/householdAnnual income

* For families/households with more than 8 people, add $5,380 for each additional person.

You can also look up your area median income (AMI) here.

Emergency cash for low-income families in Iowa

If you need cash to pay bills, buy gas, feed your family, or for any other reason, these resources can help:

Family Investment Program (FIP)

FIP is Iowa’s version of the federal cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Families with children can get cash from FIP for up to 60 months. 

For a family of three, FIP pays out $426 monthly. See the full payout totals


  • U.S. citizen
  • Iowa resident
  • Minor child in the home
  • Cooperate with child support enforcement, if applicable
  • Participate in a work training program
  • Have no more than $2,000 in resources when applying and stay under $5,000 of resources while in the program
  • Iowa determines income eligibility by calculating your gross and net income with two tests (more details on the FIP website).

How to get help:

Apply through the Department of Human Services online portal.

More emergency cash help in Iowa: 

Single moms in Iowa can visit or dial 2-1-1 to ask for assistance.

Check out these posts for more ways to get emergency cash: 

These are some more tips for getting cash quickly: 

Housing help for single moms in Iowa

If you need help finding a place to live or paying your rent/mortgage, these programs can help: 

Rental assistance in Iowa

There are multiple programs in Iowa to help renters find housing and pay their rent:

Iowa Rent Subsidy Program

This program helps Iowa renters pay their rent with monthly cash assistance. Recipients can get paid up to the full cost of their rent minus 30% of their gross income.


  • 18 or older
  • Live in a qualifying rental unit
  • Ineligible or on a waiting list for other rental assistance
  • Participate in an eligible community financial program
  • Pay more than 30% of their income toward rent
  • Complete reapproval every 12 months

How to get help: 

  • Email an application to [email protected]
  • Mail an application to Iowa Finance Authority, HCBS Rent Subsidy Program, 1963 Bell Ave., Suite 200, Des Moines, Iowa 50315

Iowa Rent Reimbursement

This program from the Department of Health and Human Services helps low-income disabled adults and seniors pay their rent, up to $1,000 in rent reimbursement annually.


  • Live in Iowa
  • Disabled adult or over the age of 65
  • Annual income less than $25,328 
  • Pay rent for an Iowa property with Iowa property tax

How to get help: 

Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) in Iowa

The Section 8 program helps low-income renters pay for affordable housing. Iowa has several Section 8-approved rental communities for eligible families.


Families must meet income requirements for their area based on household size.

How to get help: 

Mortgage assistance in Iowa

If you need help buying a home in Iowa, these programs can help: 

Iowa Homeowner Assistance Fund

The Iowa Homeowner Assistance Fund gives homeowners up to $25,000 to pay for overdue:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Homeowner association fees
  • Lot rent payments
  • Land contract payments

The program pays for single-family homes, mobile homes, condos, manufactured homes, and small multi-family properties with one unit occupied by the homeowner. 


  • Iowa homeowner and occupy their Iowa home
  • Financial hardship due to the pandemic
  • Behind on home-related payments
  • Income lower than 150% of AMI                                     

How to get help: 

Fill out an online pre-application. If approved, you can move on to the full online application.

FirstHome Program

First-time homebuyers in Iowa can get low-interest loans with affordable down payments and closing costs through this program. 

Down payment assistance is available as a:

  • $2,500 grant, or
  • Loan for up to 5% or $5,000 of the home’s sale price (whichever is less) that’s repayable at the time of sale, upon refinance, or upon full repayment of the first mortgage

Homeowners can choose which program makes more sense for their financial situation.


  • Buying an Iowa home as a primary residence
  • Meet income guidelines for your county, between $86,900 and $109,000
  • Buying a home under the maximum limit for your area   
  • Debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less
  • Willing to complete a homebuyer education program                        

How to get help: 

Find a participating lender through the Iowa Finance Authority.

Homes for Iowans

Homes for Iowans is another program for both first-time and repeat homebuyers that helps Iowa homebuyers get more affordable mortgages. The program offers low-interest loans and down payments of 3% or less.


  • Purchasing a home in Iowa as your primary residence, up to $427,000
  • Household income up to $152,600
  • At least a 640 credit score
  • No higher than a 45% debt-to-income ratio
  • Willing to participate in a homebuyer education program    

How to get help: 

Find a participating lender through the Iowa Finance Authority.

Check today's mortgage loan rates >>

Down payment and closing cost assistance for Iowa Homeowners

Iowa has a few programs to help homeowners pay their down payments and closing costs, including Homes for Iowans and the FirstHome Program. These additional programs can also help:

  • Military Homeownership Assistance Program: Single moms who are or were service members can get a $5,000 grant for a down payment or closing costs
  • Combined Down Payment Assistant: The Iowa Finance Authority allows homebuyers to combine assistance for some of its programs, like the Military Homeownership Assistance Program and the FirstHome Program, to get extra money toward their down payment or closing costs


Homebuyers must qualify for the specific homeownership assistance program to get down payment assistance. 

How to get help: 

  • Find a participating lender through the Iowa Finance Authority
  • Contact the agency for more information at 515-452-0400 or 800-432-7230

Homeless assistance in Iowa

Iowa Housing Help

Iowa’s Coordinated Entry program helps Iowans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless find resources in their communities, including:

  • Emergency shelter
  • Housing assistance
  • Domestic violence support

How to get help: 

House Iowa

The House Iowa website is a database of housing resources for families in need. 

How to get help: 

Find your county on the website map to locate emergency shelters, Habitat for Humanity offices, and more housing resources. 

More housing help: 

Electric bill assistance in Iowa

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills in Iowa, check out the following programs:

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Iowa

LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their energy bills by making a direct payment to their utility company. Applications are accepted beginning on November 1st each year, but households with someone who is disabled or 60 years or older can apply beginning October 1st.


  • Iowa resident who rents or owns a home
  • At or below 200% of FPL

How to get help:

Find your local LIHEAP office. 

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in Iowa

Low-income families in Iowa can get help weatherizing their homes to reduce energy costs through WAP. The program pays for:

  • Heating and cooling system safety checks
  • Heating and cooling system audits
  • Upgrades and repairs to heating and cooling systems
  • Ductwork installation
  • Water tank insulation
  • Efficient lighting source installation
  • Air sealing
  • Installing programmable thermostats

Applicants can apply at any time during the year.


  • Live in Iowa
  • At or below 200% of the FPL — $46,060/year for a family of three

How to get help:

Contact your local Iowa Department of Human Rights.

More electric bill help: 

Free money to help pay bills

Medical insurance and dental help for single moms in Iowa

Iowa families can get health or dental insurance and assistance through these Iowa programs:.

Dental Lifeline in Iowa

Dental Lifeline’s participating dental clinics provide free or discounted dental care to people who need it. 


Must have no means to afford dental care and meet one of the following criteria: 

  • Over 65 years of age
  • Permanently disabled
  • Need medically necessary dental care

How to get help: 

Fill out the online application.

Iowa Mission of Mercy

The Iowa Mission of Mercy hosts events for adults and children to receive free dental services, including exams, fillings, and root canals. 


Anyone who is able to make it to an IMOM event is allowed to come and wait in line to be seen.

How to get help:

Visit the IMOM website for details about upcoming events.

Iowa Medicaid 

Pregnant women and women with children may qualify for Iowa Medicaid, which is a statewide health insurance program that covers many medical services, like:

  • Doctor visits
  • Vision exams and glasses
  • Dental services
  • Physical therapy
  • Hospital care
  • X-rays and lab tests
  • Emergency room and urgent care services
  • Birth control and family planning


  • Iowa resident
  • U.S. citizen
  • Income below 133% of FPL

How to get help:

Apply online through the Iowa Department of Human Services portal.

Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (Hawki)

Hawki is a Medicaid program for children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid based on income. It is Iowa’s version of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The program covers:

  • Doctor visits
  • Eye exams and glasses
  • Dental care
  • Prescriptions
  • Immunizations
  • Diagnostics
  • Lab services
  • Counseling and mental health services
  • Surgeries and emergencies

Some families may receive free Hawki coverage based on income, while others with higher incomes pay between $10 and $40 per month, per child.

Hawki also has a dental-only program for children who have other health coverage but do not have dental coverage and are eligible based on their family’s income. 


  • Live in Iowa
  • U.S. citizen or qualified resident
  • Not eligible for Medicaid
  • Child under 19 years old
  • No other health insurance
  • Meet income guidelines

How to get help: 

More medical/dental help: 

Food help for low-income families in Iowa

A number of federal and state food and nutrition programs are available across the state:

Iowa Food Assistance Program (SNAP)

Iowa SNAP benefits help low-income parents buy food for their families by giving them a monthly payment for eligible foods. Some retailers, like Amazon, Sam’s Club, and Walmart, also participate in SNAP, allowing Iowa residents to buy eligible food online, like:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish and poultry
  • Dairy products


  • Iowa resident 
  • U.S. citizen or qualified citizen
  • Meet income requirements (check eligibility here)

How to get help: 

Apply using the online benefits portal or visit your local Department of Health and Human Services office. You can learn whether your income meets Iowa’s guidelines for SNAP by completing the pre-screening survey on the online portal. 

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Iowa

WIC serves mothers and babies across the United States with: 

  • Checks to buy healthy foods, baby formula, and baby food
  • Information about nutrition and health
  • Support and information about breastfeeding


  • Low-income, pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, for up to one year postpartum
  • Women up to six months postpartum who are not breastfeeding
  • Infants and children under 5 years old, including foster children
  • Low-income sole provider parents of children under age of 5 who are at nutritional risk and who are below 185% of FPL
  • If you are currently receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance, or Food Assistance help, you are also eligible for WIC

How to get help: 

Contact your local WIC clinic to set up an appointment.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program in Iowa

Iowa’s public school students meeting income requirements can get free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast meals in participating schools.


Eligible households have income within the federal income eligibility guidelines.

How to get help: 

  • Contact your child’s school for more information
  • Call the program director for the breakfast program at 515-868-1956
  • Call the program director for the lunch program at 515-975-8103

Iowa Seamless Summer Option

Eligible Iowa students can get free meals during the summer when school is on break from participating school sites.


Children must be 18 or younger. Participating sites can have their own requirements, such as only providing meals to children who participate in specific programs or activities.

How to get help: 

Call 515-868-1956 or 515-326-5358.

Food Bank of Iowa

The Food Bank of Iowa brings food to counties across Iowa for families in need. 


Each program or food bank the Food Bank of Iowa works with sets its own eligibility requirements. 

How to get help: 

Use the site’s interactive map to find food bank locations near you.

Food Banks in Iowa

The Iowa Food Bank Association hosts a database of food banks in the state that can help you get food for your family. 


Each food bank sets its own eligibility requirements.

How to get help: 

Visit The Iowa Food Bank Association to find a local food bank.

More food help: 

Child care help for low-income families in Iowa

Child care assistance can help single moms in Iowa go to school or work by providing affordable child care.

Child Care Assistance in Iowa

Low-income single moms who work or attend school or vocational training can get help paying for child care. Some families may qualify for full-cost coverage.


  • Have a child under 13 or under 19 if they have special needs
  • Participate in the FIP program or be in an approved work, training, or education program
  • Income no higher than 145% of FPL

How to apply: 

  • Apply on the online portal
  • Apply at your local Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
  • Mail an application to: DHS CCA Eligibility, Human Services River Place Office, 2309 Euclid Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310-5703

Iowa Head Start and Early Head Start

Iowa’s Early Head Start program serves children from birth to age 3. Eligible children can attend developmentally appropriate learning programs, and families can get connected to community resources, like parenting classes or social play groups.

Head Start programs are for children ages 3-5. They focus on preparing kids academically and socially for kindergarten.


Families must have a child aged 0-5. If the family already participates in other Iowa programs, like Medicaid or SNAP, they may automatically qualify. Otherwise, Head Start programs may evaluate household income to determine eligibility.

How to apply: 

Use the maps to find a Head Start or Early Head Start program near you.

More child care help

Education help for single moms in Iowa

If you’re a single mom who wants to further her education in Iowa, here are some helpful resources: 

High School Equivalency Diploma in Iowa

Iowa offers the High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) to people in the state who did not complete high school. This program is similar to a GED, creating an alternative pathway to graduation. 

Single moms must be at least 17 years old to enroll in an eligible program and take the test. The HSED test has five content areas and costs $53.75 (or $10.75 for a single test).

Find an eligible program at Your Future Starts Here.

Grants and scholarships in Iowa

Single moms looking for help with their college expenses can use the Iowa College Aid website to find statewide scholarships and grants. 

More education help: 

Employment help for single moms in Iowa

Workforce programs in Iowa provide training and assist with employment:

Iowa Unemployment Benefits

Iowa’s unemployment program pays money to individuals who have lost their job, been laid off, or had hours reduced at their jobs. 

Single moms can file a new claim to begin receiving unemployment checks while they look for a new job or wait to return to work.


  • Live in Iowa
  • Unemployed, laid off, or had a reduction of hours
  • Willing to actively search for a new job

How to get help: 

Apply through the Iowa Workforce Development website.


IowaWORKS helps people find suitable work in the state. Single moms who are currently getting unemployment benefits or those who would like to find a new job can use the website. 

How to get help: 

Register for an IowaWORKS account to begin searching for jobs.

More employment help: 

Charity organizations in Iowa

There are a number of charitable organizations throughout Iowa that offer support to single moms:

Children and Families of Iowa

Children and Families of Iowa offers several services to children and their families in Iowa, including:

  • Resources and support for domestic violence situations
  • Early childhood development programs
  • Mental health and substance abuse support
  • Financial management help
  • Adoption assistance
  • Family interventions


Requirements vary by program.

How to get help: 

Visit the CFIOWA website to find your nearest location. 

The Salvation Army of Iowa

Salvation Army locations help people across the state access resources they need to stay safe and healthy. Some of the services The Salvation Army provides include:

  • Gifts for holidays
  • Domestic violence support
  • LGBTQ+ support
  • Job training
  • Food donations
  • Financial assistance
  • Emergency shelter
  • Housing assistance
  • Life skill building
  • After-school programs


Each Salvation Army location in Iowa has its own services and determines eligibility for each of its services and programs. 

How to get help: 

Visit the Salvation Army website to find your local chapter. 

United Way in Iowa

The United Way has numerous locations across Iowa, including Clinton, Mason City, and Burlington. This charity helps families in need find food, shelter, financial resources, and community support.

How to get help: 

Contact your nearest United Way in Iowa or dial 2-1-1.

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