Broke? Need help paying rent, fixing your car, child care, medical bills? There are many resources available, some specifically for single moms. Here are some programs that can help. Also, check out our Single Mom Monthly $500 Grant, which also has other .
Cash assistance programs
TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is the new name for cash assistance once called ‘welfare.' Today the program requires participants to work part-time or prove that you're looking for work. Learn more about TANF.
Guaranteed income (or universal basic income)
Universal Basic Income, or UBI, is increasingly gaining popularity as an efficient, effective way to alleviate poverty and improve society overall. The essence of these programs it that by giving people a guaranteed sum of cash each month — opposed to expensive, cumbersome and inefficient programs — recipients are more likely to get the services or resources they need, money flows more freely in local economies, and society overall benefits from a sense that we take care of one another, studies are finding.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Single moms stand to benefit the most from this kind of aide. From feminist news site The 19th:
About 56 percent of the people who live in poverty in the United States are women, and most of those are women of color. Of that group, unmarried women with children, like Nichols, are the most likely to be below the federal poverty line. For her family of five, that’s $30,680.
Here is a list of pilot UBI programs:
This is a coalition of 36 mayors from places like Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Compton and Stockton, California, Gainesville, Fla., Wausau, Wisc., and Jackson, Mississippi came together to test UBI programs in their cities. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey committed $15 million to the organization.
Since 2016, Jain Family Institute has built a global network of fellows, advisors, and partners that provides a unique view into the variety of ways cash transfer programs can be structured and implemented. Their white papers cover disbursement infrastructure, interactions with existing benefits, and optimal guaranteed income design.
The Oakland, Calf., city program, which has raised $6.75 million from private donors, will give low-income families of color $500 per month.
Food assistance programs
Find a food pantry near you using Food Finder, which will connect you with free food given away through local churches, community programs, charities in all 50 states.
Find your local food bank through the Feeding America website.
USDA National Hunger Hotline: 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273). Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern.
Government food assistance programs including SNAP / food stamps / WIC are enhanced during the pandemic.
Do you qualify for food stamps? Each state has its own income limits. Check with your local agency to see if you qualify. As one example, here is the current income limit chart for Pennsylvania:
See if your local schools offer free meals for families with children, and food programs for senior citizens.
The Women Infants and Children program for families with children aged 5 and younger offers food coupons you can use at grocery stores, markets and bodegas, for qualifying food. Learn whether you are eligible for WIC, and how to apply.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program loads financial credit to low-income people on a debit card, that you use at your local grocery store and market. Learn how to qualify, and apply online for SNAP.
School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
This national program helps families with food through their local schools and daycare centers by providing free breakfasts and lunches to students. Learn more.
As of April, 2021, SNAP emergency funding was expanded by an additional $1 billion per month to 25 million people as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act, which includes:
- Extending a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits— providing over $1.1 billion per month in additional benefits through September 2021;
- Funding meals for young adults experiencing homelessness through Child and Adult Care Food Program emergency shelters;
- Providing nearly $900 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, including a temporary increase in fruit and vegetable vouchers to $35 per month
Special Milk Program
If your school does not have a free breakfast or lunch program, they may qualify for the special milk program. Learn more.
Summer Food Service Program
The federal Summer Food Service programs helps families who depend on school lunches and breakfasts to access nutritious foods during summer breaks. Learn more.
Housing assistance programs
HUD housing for low-income single moms
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) works with landlords to offer affordable rent to low-income families, including single moms, the disabled and senior citizens.
Learn how to qualify for HUD housing, and search for a HUD apartment on the program’s website.
HUD also has various state-sponsored housing programs throughout the country. Learn about these state housing programs for low-income moms.
HUD public housing for low-income families is another option. Contact your state’s Public Housing Agency directly to learn more.
Section 8 vouchers for single mothers
HUD Section 8 vouchers are coupons given directly to low-income renters who use them to pay part of their rent to participating landlords. Apply for Section 8, and find participating property owners.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families and individuals with energy costs, energy crisis hellp, weatherization and energy-related home repairs. Find info for your state here.
Buy a home as a single mom
Even if your income is low, you may qualify for special home buying programs for single moms, and those with limited income. The blog Single Moms Income has a great resource page about home-buying programs for single moms.
Use New York Times’s excellent tool to see if you should rent or buy a home: Rent or Buy Calculator
Child care assistance programs
Public assistance day care programs
Each state's Health and Human Services can help you find grants and money for low-cost or free daycare, based on your need, income and program availability in your area. Learn about your options at the Office of Childcare Website.
Head Start day care
Head Start and Early Head Start is an established federal program that has proven successful in providing educational readiness for low-income children under age 5 from low-income families. The program's goals are to help all children get ready for school, as well as provide affordable child care to their parents.
State child care assistance subsidies for single moms
Each state has child care assistance programs that can help you find quality day care centers, and pay for them. Find programs in your state and town with the Office of Child Care's website.
More help for single moms
For more info on running your household efficiently, creating budgets, meal plans, chores and more, check out our resources guide for single moms.
Also, the nonprofit Savvy Ladies provides a free volunteer-run helpline service that pairs you with the appropriate volunteer to help you with:
- divorce and money
- family finances
- small business planning
- debt management (including credit cards)
- retirement investing/saving
- money and emotions
The following are government and community resources to help families in need — including single-parent-led households.
Check out our list of where to get free Christmas and holiday gifts for low-income families. As well as 20 scholarships for single moms.
Get a free car, or help buying a car as a single mom
Free Charity Cars gives away donated cars throughout the United States to those in need, including:
- Domestic violence victims
- The medically needy
- Victims of natural disasters
- Families transitioning from public assistance to work
- Families living in transitional living shelters
- The working poor
- Non-profit organizations
- Military families
Working Cars for Working Families helps those in need find a donated car.
If you're ready to buy a car, but money is a problem, we recommend 1800FreshStart, a marketplace for auto loans. 1800FreshStart is a quality service:
- Better Business Bureau rating of A+
- APRs starting at 1.74%
- Buy or refinance a car
- Available to buyers who have low or no credit, or who have gone through bankrupcy
- Apply for an auto loan within 90 seconds
Free cell phone
Lifeline Assistance is a government program partners with major wireless companies to provide qualifying families with free phones and cell service.
Safelink Wireless is a free government cell phone carrier serving 4 million customers in 31 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Safelink provides a free mobile phone and up to 350 free local and domestic long-distance minutes monthly, and unlimited text messages every month if you qualify.
Assurance Wireless provides a free phone and up to 500 monthly minutes and unlimited texting in the United States to qualifying members.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state medical insurance program for low-income families. Find out if you qualify for Medicaid, and learn about your state's benefits.