Families with single parents are commonly among the most vulnerable and poorest families within America due to child-related expenses and a lack of income sources, including the costs of daycare. Without assistance, many of these families would not be able to keep up with their housing costs and could potentially become homeless. Homelessness is also a significant problem within the United States and statistics show that many of the homeless families within the U.S. today are comprised of a single parent, usually a mother, and one to three children.
Fortunately, there are several single-parent rent assistance programs and resources on a federal, state and local level. If you are a single parent that is struggling to make ends meet, you may be able to get help through a community outreach program, Section 8 housing, the Public Housing Program and other resources.
How does single-parent rent assistance work?
Single-parent rent assistance has become more common across America. In addition to state and federal programs, several non-profit organizations and charities have begun to take additional steps towards supporting single-parent families during a hardship. Each organization strives to provide different resources to qualifying single-parent families, including clothing, food, rental assistance and more.
Who can apply for single-parent rent assistance?
Single-parent rent assistance is designed to provide aid to single-parent families who are facing significant hardship and are struggling to pay rent. Therefore, you must be considered low or very low-income to qualify for most housing programs and resources.
There is currently a high demand for housing assistance within the U.S. due to the number of low-income families and households in need of assistance. In some cases, the amount of need within a community can exceed funding. This can impact some federal, state and community programs as well as the eligibility requirements that must be met to receive benefits.
Private and Community Single-Parent Rent Assistance Resources
The federal government provides several different types of grants to nonprofit organizations and charities that operate within local communities. These organizations provide services and resources to struggling low-income households and families.
Depending on the organizations and outreach programs within your area, you may be eligible to receive food, clothing items or furniture for free or at a reduced cost. Other organizations focus on providing monetary assistance to needy families that can be used for housing costs.
The Salvation Army
One of the most notable and influential charitable organizations that operate on a local level is the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army provides one of the largest community outreach programs to veterans and the homeless. Millions of charity-raised dollars are provided to families and households each year across the country to get more people off the streets. The organization also provides emergency assistance to single-parent families and other qualifying households towards the cost of utilities in order to prevent utilities from being shut off.
In addition to monetary assistance, the Salvation Army provides temporary shelters and transitional housing centers for homeless individuals and families. The organization also offers job training and counseling programs in order to provide greater work-related opportunities to families that can help families permanently rise from poverty levels.
Other Local Organizations
There are several other community businesses that routinely provide financial assistance towards housing costs for qualifying single-parent families, including Goodwill and the Community Economic Development (CED) organization. Organizations such as Goodwill offer goods, such as furniture and clothing, at an affordable cost as well as provide services like child care and tutoring services.
Community Economic Development is a state-sponsored business that provides financial assistance to qualifying families that are experiencing a crisis and at work of homelessness. CED commonly offers emergency housing assistance, utility shut-off prevention resources, free food and crisis intervention. While many of these services are available to single- and two-parent families, many of these resources are only provided to families and not to individuals without children.
In addition to these valuable resources, it is crucial that you learn more about other local opportunities and resources in your area by contacting local state and federal offices. These offices will likely have a list of many of the known resources within a community. If you are a single parent in need of assistance, it is essential that you contact the following offices within your community:
- Public Housing Agency (PHA)
- HUD office
- State Housing Finance Agency
- State human or social services agency
If you are a veteran, you may also be able to receive help from your local Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA offers veterans and their families substantial assistance through a variety of programs, including the HUD-VASH program.
State and Federal Single-Parent Rent Assistance Programs
In addition to the outreach programs and resources that may be available within your community, it is worth knowing that there are several federal and state assistance programs that may be able to provide you with assistance towards the cost of housing or monthly expenses.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is a housing assistance program that is overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This program provides low- and very-low-income families who qualify with monthly monetary assistance that is paid directly to landlords in order to reduce the amount of money that the participating family must pay each month.
Qualifications for the Section 8 program include income guidelines, family composition and citizenship and immigration status requirements. Income guidelines can vary between counties and metropolitan areas, as it is based upon a portion of the median income for the area where the family wishes to live.
Benefits can only be provided to families and households that contain at least one dependent younger than 18 years of age, a senior citizen or a disabled person. In order to qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, your family must either be U.S. citizens or have a qualifying non-citizen status.
If you would like to apply for Section 8 benefits, you will need to contact your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). If approved for benefits, your family may either begin to receive help immediately or your family may be placed on a waiting list, depending on current voucher availability.
The Public Housing Program
Another HUD sponsored program that you and your family may qualify for is the Public Housing Program. While similar to Section 8, the Public Housing Program offers affordable state-owned housing properties to low- and very-low-income families who qualify. The program is designed to provide many of the same opportunities as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, but rather than having a portion of rental costs paid by the PHA, families who qualify can live in a dwelling at a reduced monthly cost.
Eligibility requirements for the Public Housing Program are the same as those for Section 8, including income, family composition and citizenship/immigration status-related qualifications. However, the Public Housing Program generally permits a higher income level than what Section 8 allows.
If you are interested in receiving benefits from the Public Housing Program, you can contact your local PHA to learn more and submit an application for benefits. If your family is approved for low-cost housing, you will either receive assistance immediately or be placed on a waiting list for when space becomes available.
Find Out How to Reduce Monthly Expenses to Allocate More Towards Housing Expenses
If you are a single parent who is struggling to make ends meet, you will likely benefit by reducing your monthly expenses in general. Therefore, it is essential that you take advantage of any federal, state or local assistance program that you qualify for.
These assistance programs can reduce the cost of food, child care, health insurance and more. If you are a single parent with low to very-low income, you may qualify for programs such as:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).