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Help for single moms in Washington, D.C.: 36 assistance programs

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If you’re a single mom in Washington, D.C., 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 Washington, D.C.

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

Temporary Cash Assistance in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash assistance for qualifying families with children or to relatives who have court-ordered custody of a child placed in their home. 

The amount paid out depends on your family size and household income. For example, a family of three can receive up to $696 a month. 

Cash assistance is available for a lifetime total of 60 months for adults.


  • U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen
  • Washington, D.C., resident
  • Currently pregnant or have children under under age 19
  • Must have social security number
  • Meet income requirements
  • Households must have less than $2,000 in resources, or $3,000 if the household includes a person who is age 60 or older
  • Complete orientation and assessment through the Office of Work Opportunity (OWO)
  • Develop an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)

Find out if you're eligible online. 

How to get help: 

More emergency cash help in Washington, D.C.: 

Single moms in Washington, D.C., 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 Washington, D.C.

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

Rental assistance in Washington, D.C.

There are multiple programs in Washington, D.C., to help renters find housing and pay their rent:

District of Columbia Housing Authority 

The D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) provides affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households. Here is a list of D.C. Housing properties.   

Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers affordable housing and vouchers to help low-income households pay their rent.


Vouchers and housing are based on household income and family size. You can find your county’s income limits on the HUD website

How to get help: 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

ERAP provides funding for overdue rent, including late fees and court costs in cases of potential eviction. The program also provides security deposits and first month's rent payments for residents moving into new apartments. 

The amount households receive depends on their income and available resources at the time. ERAP may provide up to five times the rental amount based on the area zip code and bedroom size of the apartment/house.

You can apply for and receive ERAP once within a 12-month period.

There is a similar program called STAY DC that is not currently accepting applicants but may in the future. 


  • Current DC resident
  • Household income is less than 40% of AMI
  • You can apply for a security deposit and first month’s rent for a unit in a neighboring county (Prince Georges County, Montgomery County, Arlington County, etc.)

How to get help: 

  • Apply online
  • Submit a completed paper application with supporting documents at any of the 6 Community Based Organizations that provide ERAP (find the list at the bottom of this page)

Mortgage assistance in Washington, D.C., 

If you need help buying a home in Washington, D.C., these programs can help: 

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program 

The FSS Program is a 5- to 7-year program aimed at helping D.C. residents achieve economic self-sufficiency through education, employment and homeownership. Each participant is assigned to an FSS coordinator who meets with them regularly to help work toward their goals.

Some of the program benefits include: 

  • Education – participants can receive up to $2,000 a year towards tuition
  • Employment – participants receive $600 for every 12 consecutive months of employment and an income exclusion
  • Homeownership – participants can receive up to $10,000 toward their mortgage


The head of household and/or applicants must be in DCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) or public housing program. 

How to get help: 

Washington, D.C., Home Purchase Assistance Program 

The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development’s Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) provides interest-free loans and closing cost assistance to help qualified applicants purchase a home in the District. The loan amount is based on a combination of factors, including income and household size. Eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $202,000 in financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance.


  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
    • No residential ownership within three years prior to applying 
  • Must have a very low to moderate income, based on the Department’s standards
  • Purchased home must be the primary residence and must be located within the District of Columbia
  • Must have a good credit score (lenders set guidelines)          

How to get help: 

Washington, D.C., down payment assistance

The D.C. Housing Authority offers a variety of programs to help residents purchase a home, including the DC Open Doors program, which makes homeownership in the District affordable by offering qualified buyers home purchase loans, plus down payment and closing cost assistance through deferred repayable loans. 

The program also offers below-market interest rates for first trust mortgages. Both first-time and repeat homebuyers are eligible for the program.

You can learn more about the Open Doors program at an informational seminar. 


  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Maximum income of $199,200
    • Income is based on borrower’s income only (not household)
  • Maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 50% 
  • $726,200 maximum first trust loan
    • No maximum sales price limit

How to get help: 

DC Homeowner Assistance Fund

The DC Homeowner Assistance Fund Program uses funding from the American Rescue Plan to help District homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments and other property or housing expenses because of the pandemic.

How to get help: 

Register online to see if you qualify.

Check today's mortgage loan rates >>

Homeless assistance in Washington, D.C., 

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, you may be able to get help from the following program: 

Coalition for the Homeless 

The main goal of the Coalition for the Homeless is to provide support for D.C. residents experiencing homelessness. 

Services include:

  • Temporary housing
  • Food case management
  • Substance abuse counseling, 
  • Employment assistance 
  • Housing placement assistance


Eligibility varies depending on each program and service. 

How to get help: 

Homeless Prevention Program 

The Homeless Prevention Program (HPP) helps families avoid homelessness through case management, mediation, financial assistance (including up to four months of rent arrears), and connection to housing resources.


  • 30% of AMI or below
  • Families are assessed for HPP eligibility when completing intake at the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center (VWFRC), the central intake for DC’s coordinated homelessness assistance system for families with children  

How to get help: 

Call the D.C. shelter hotline at 202-399-7093. 

More housing help: 

Electric bill assistance in Washington, D.C.

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills in Washington, D.C., check out the following programs:

Utility Discount Programs (UDP)

The Utility Discount Programs helps low-income District residents reduce their utility costs. 

If you're eligible, you could receive discounts of:

  • Up to $475 per year on your electric bills ($300 per year if you don't have electric heat)
  • Up to $276 during the winter season on your gas bills
  • Over $962 annually on your water and sewer bills


  • U.S citizen or a qualified alien
  • Resident of Washington, D.C.
  • Must have utility bills in applicant’s name 
  • Meet annual household income guidelines

How to get help:

  • Apply online 
  • Print and complete this application and send via mail with required documents to:
    • Attn: Utility Affordability Administration 1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor Washington DC, 20002 

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) in Washington, D.C.

LIHEAP helps qualifying households with home heating and cooling costs, paid directly to utility companies. The agency does not assist with water, sewer, or telephone services. 


  • Meet income guidelines 
  • Responsible for paying your home heating or cooling bills
  • Resident of Washington, D.C.
  • U.S. Citizen, qualified alien, or permanent resident of the U.S.

How to get help:

Department of Energy & Environment

DOEE is not currently accepting appointments for utility assistance but may in the future. Visit the DOEE website for future availability. 

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

WAP helps low-income families lower their monthly energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Types of assistance include:

  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors
  • Removing mold
  • Replacing inefficient or unsafe heating units 
  • Insulating a single family home for energy efficiency


  • U.S citizen or a qualified alien
  • Resident of Washington, D.C.
  • Meet annual household income guidelines
  • Automatically eligible if you are receiving SSI, TANF or Aid to Families with Dependent Children benefits

How to get help:

More electric bill help: 

Free money to help pay bills

Medical and dental help for single moms in Washington, D.C.

The following medical and dental services are available to qualifying individuals and families:        

District of Columbia Dental Society 

The District of Columbia Dental Society (DCDS) connects residents with free and low-cost dental clinics. 


Each individual clinic sets its own eligibility requirements. 

How to get help: 

Office of Disability Rights 

The Office of Disability Rights (ODR) connects residents with free medical clinics. 


Each individual clinic sets its own eligibility requirements. 

How to get help: 

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) in Washington, D.C.

HRSA, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, funds health centers that provide free or subsidized health and dental care to low-income people and those otherwise unable to access quality health care, like people living in rural areas.

HRSA also offers a 24/7 free and confidential mental health hotline for pregnant and new moms. Dial 833-943-5746 (833-9-HELP4MOMS) if you are struggling.


Each health center sets its own eligibility criteria for free or reduced cost care. 

How to get help:

Find an HRSA health center in Washington, D.C., by typing in your address on HRSA’s search tool.

Washington, D.C., Medicaid

D.C. Healthy Families, the District’s name for its Medicaid program, provides medical coverage for low-income individuals and families. In Washington, D.C., most Medicaid recipients are enrolled in the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program, which includes:

  • Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) – Covers medical services like doctor visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, mental health care, and transportation for medical needs
  • Long-term Care (LTC) – Covers care in a nursing facility, assisted living, or at home (must be at least 18 years old and require nursing home-level care or hospital-level care if you have cystic fibrosis)
  • Dental – Covers all dental services for children and adults


  • Resident of Washington, D.C.
  • U.S. national citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien
  • Meet income requirements

Plus, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Pregnant, or
  • Caretaker for a child 21 or younger
  • Member of the household has a disability, including blindness
  • 65 or older

How to get help:

Washington, D.C., CHIP

District of Columbia Medicaid for Infants and Children provides medical coverage for children up to age 21 whose families do not qualify for Medicaid. Covered services include: 

  • Doctor visits
  • Surgeries
  • Vaccines
  • Vision and hearing 
  • Hospital stays


  • Washington D.C. resident
  • U.S. national citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien 
  • Under age 21
  • Meet income guidelines 

How to get help: 

Washington, D.C., Healthy Start

DC Healthy Start is a program for residents of Wards 5, 7 and 8 that provides services, referrals, and support for all women, parents, and infants up to 18 months. 

Education services cover:

  • Prenatal care and parenting 
  • Conception 
  • Wellness screenings 
  • Stress management
  • Local resources and assistance
  • Free transportation to attend perinatal care appointments


Pregnant women and parents of children under 18 months old who live in Wards 5,7 and 8 are eligible for D.C. Healthy Start services. 

How to get help: 

More medical/dental help: 

Food help for low-income families in Washington, D.C.

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

Washington, D.C., Food Assistance Program (SNAP)

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) provides food benefits and nutrition education to low-income households. 

SNAP recipients are issued an EBT card that can be used like an ATM card in retail food stores to purchase food, including:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Plants and seeds to grow food 


  • Washington, D.C., resident
  • Current bank balance (savings and checking combined) under $2,750 or under $4,250 and share your household with one of the following:
    • Person or persons age 60 and over
    • Person with a disability (child, spouse, parent, yourself
  • You must also have an annual household income below these amounts.  

How to get help: 

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is a nutrition program that provides free baby formula and nutritional food items to low-income mothers and their babies. 


How to get help: 

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program

NSLP serves healthy, well-balanced, reduced-price or free meals to children in school. 

An extension of the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program provides free or low-cost breakfast to eligible students. Schools with at least 80% of the students eligible for free or reduced-price meals must provide breakfast at no cost to all students. 

Learn about the DC program here


Household income must fall at or below the limits of the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

How to get help: 

Washington, D.C.’s Summer Food Service Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services serves nutritious meals at no cost to children during summer break. Food is distributed at local schools, nonprofits, l parks and libraries. Learn more about the program in DC here. 


Must be under age 18. There is no registration or application required. 

How to get help: 

Washington, D.C., food banks

Food banks in Washington, D.C., provide meals for individuals and families who are struggling to put food on the table. 


Each food bank sets its own eligibility and proof of need requirements. 

How to get help: 

To find a food bank near you and for additional information, visit the Capital Area Food Bank website.

More food help: 

Child care help for low-income families in Washington, D.C.

There are multiple federally funded education programs and resources in Washington, D.C.:

Washington, D.C., Head Start and Early Head Start

Head Start is a free federal preschool program for children aged 3 to 5 from low-income families. Early Head Start serves pregnant women and children under age 3. The programs focus on cognitive, social, and emotional development and prepare children for school. 


  • Children from birth to 5 
  • Meet federal poverty guidelines 
  • Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF, SSI, etc.) are eligible regardless of income
  • Some programs accept kids with incomes above the Poverty Guidelines
  • Pregnant women can also receive prenatal and postpartum information, education, and services through Early Head Start

How to apply: 

Universal Pre-K

The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) offers a free, universal pre-kindergarten program. This program helps provide free childcare while also ensuring children are ready for kindergarten. Only resident students of the District can attend DC public schools tuition-free.

Tuition rates vary by grade, sector, and the educational services the student receives. These amounts change each school year. You can find the rates for the current school year here. 

Check out the school finder here. 

Here is a list of other pre-K options in the DC area. 


For the student to be considered a resident and claim free tuition, they must: 

  • Be physically present in DC
  • Submit valid documentation of DC residence

To be eligible for any school year:

  • Students must be 3 by September 30 to apply to PK3
  • Students must be 4 by September 30 to apply to PK4

How to get help: 

More child care help

Education help for single moms in Washington, D.C.

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

Get a GED in Washington, D.C.

If you are at least 18 years old in Washington, D.C., you can take the GED test. You may also be able to take the test at 16 or 17 with special permission from the school district where you live. 

You must take the GED Ready practice test and pass before you can take the GED. 

The GED test is broken into four exams on different subjects, which can be spaced out and taken at your own pace (though each individual exam has a time limit): 

  • Mathematical reasoning – 115 minutes
  • Reasoning through language arts – 150 minutes
  • Social studies – 70 minutes
  • Science – 90 minutes

You have two options for taking the test in Washington, D.C.: 

  • Online at-home test – $36 per subject
  • In-person at a test center – $3.75 per subject

How to get help:

Generation Hope

Generation Hope, a non-profit started and run by a teen single mom supports teen moms in completing their college degrees through:

  • Tuition and child-care assistance
  • Mentorship, including being assigned a mentor
  • Mental health support
  • 1-1- career-readiness coaching
  • Training, events and community of other single-parent students

Commitment to Excellence Scholarship Program 

DCHA’s scholarship program awards $40,000 to eligible students each year. Applicants must be attending an accredited college, university, or trade/technical school in the fall and must have a 2.0 GPA or a 225 GED score.


The head of household and/or applicants must be in DCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) or public housing program. 

How to get help: 

Grants and scholarships in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) connects students and prospective students with grants and scholarships available in Washington, D.C.. To find out which scholarships and grants you may be eligible for, create a student profile on the OSSE website

Individual schools also offer need-based and academic scholarships for their students. If you’ve been accepted to a higher education institution, contact their office of financial aid to learn how to apply. 

More education help: 

Employment help for single moms in Washington, D.C.

Workforce programs in Washington, D.C., provide training and assist with employment:

Washington, D.C., Reemployment Assistance (Insurance) Program

This program provides unemployment compensation to eligible Washington, D.C., workers who are out of work through no fault of their own.


  • Washington, D.C., resident 
  • Unemployed
  • Previously employed for the past 12 months
  • Earned a certain amount of wages
  • Actively looking for another job

How to get help: 

American Job Centers

The American Job Centers offer employment and training services, career counseling, and job search assistance. 

How to get help: 

More employment help: 

Charity organizations in Washington, D.C.

There are a number of charitable organizations throughout Washington, D.C., that offer support to single moms:

The Salvation Army of Washington, D.C.

The Salvation Army wears many hats. Chapters assist with:

  • Food, shelter and clothing
  • Medication costs
  • Education and job training
  • Christmas presents
  • Rent and utility bills
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Youth services
  • Emergency disaster response


Each Salvation Army branch determines its own eligibility criteria for different programs. 

How to get help: 

Visit the Salvation Army website to find your local chapter. 

Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C.

Catholic Charities assists with:

  • Housing
  • Utility assistance
  • Food assistance
  • Health care assistance


Each Catholic Charities branch and program determines its own eligibility criteria for different programs. 

How to get help: 

United Way of Washington, D.C.

The United Way of Washington, D.C., connects people in need with local resources like: 

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Child care services
  • Housing
  • Health care
  • Support groups

How to get help: 

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