Housing Assistance For Single Mothers: The Ultimate Guide

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According to the United States Census Bureau, about 4 in every 10 children are born to single mothers and this number is projected to rise based on the current social trends. However, single mothers face many challenges in modern society. Some of these challenges are the same that married mothers must face. Other challenges are unique to single mothers and often hinder their upward mobility in society as well as their ability to support their children. Unfortunately, many single mothers are completely unaware of the resources that the United States Federal government and private organizations offer to help them better their economic conditions and support their children.

The primary challenge that any parent faces is the expense of supporting a child. A baby requires constant care and its diet is completely different from that of an ordinary adult. Expenses related to this challenge can fall into one of two categories: real expenses and opportunity costs. Real expenses are things such as diapers, milk, and baby food that the mother must purchase in order to properly care for her child. While many retailers make a point of discounting these items to show that they are family friendly, the fact still remains that these items are expensive and their collective costs may make it virtually unaffordable to single mothers. Opportunity costs are the economic costs that a single mother will incur because her responsibility to care for her child. These costs can include the potential salary from a job that the mother was unable to accept because it would have made it impossible to provide her child with the attention it required.

Furthermore, job opportunities for single mothers who are able to work can be limited given the nature of the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies. If a single woman becomes pregnant while she is still in high school or college, she will probably drop out when her child is born. Once a single mother drops out, it is highly unlikely that she will ever return to finish her education. The lack of a high school or college degree makes finding a well-paying job extremely difficult, if not impossible. Without a good income, it becomes increasingly difficult for a single mother to support her child.

Finally, due to the condition of their immune systems, young children need adequate shelter. A single man or woman can endure less than adequate housing conditions without suffering any lasting physical harm. However, a young child will certainly become sick from exposure and its sickness could lead to severe medical emergencies. Unfortunately, single mothers who are hindered by the lack of a good income that was mentioned in the previous paragraph are unable to afford adequate housing, but their need for it does not change.

Therefore, a single mother must carefully weigh the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her child. She should compile a rough estimate of what she will need to spend to support her child and then allocate a certain percentage of funds from her monthly income that she can afford to pay towards affording a living space. Once she has done that, she should research government programs that will enable her to afford a better living situation than she could otherwise afford. The following sections offer a general overview of the financial aid that is available to single mothers who need housing assistance.

Quick Menu:
Affordable & Low Income Housing
Rental Assistance
Mortgage Assistance
Emergency Housing

Affordable & Low Income Housing

If a single mother is struggling to afford housing due to her financial circumstances, her first step should be to find a housing alternative that will fit within her budget. However, finding an adequate solution for housing on the open market can be virtually impossible due the demand for housing and the high prices. So, how can single mothers find affordable housing?

The key to any search for affordable housing is to know your budget. Because most people who are searching for affordable housing do not have a large budget, they should look at renting an apartment. The rent rate will be much less than the actual costs of buying and maintaining housing. Once the decision has been made to rent, single mothers must weigh the environment surrounding the apartment. The apartment cannot provide a single mother with affordable housing if it will cost her extra money to obtain the necessary services to help her child (e.g., she has an abnormal distance to travel in order to get day care). Once she has settled this aspect, she can then search for programs that will help her afford the cost of the apartment and its amenities.

The United States Federal government has numerous programs to help people find affordable housing. These programs create a partnership between the government, the landlord, and the single mother to make the housing affordable for her through government tax subsidies to the landlord. The most common federal program for this is run by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development.

The US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

The program provides single mothers with a list of houses and apartments across the United States where the landlord partners with the federal government. In order to apply to the program, the single mother must contact her local HUD director and submit an application. There are no national standards to guide the selection process and each case is handled on an individual basis. However, several general qualifications have been recognized by observers across the country. The first is that the single mother will get first priority if she can prove that she is not currently involved in a relationship (i.e., boyfriend or husband). She must also prove that her income is below $30,000. Once again, this is a general observation and, as all cases are handled on an individual basis, may not be true for some people. The official HUD guidelines state that the subsidized low income housing can only be made available to households with annual incomes at 80 percent, 50 percent, and 30 percent of their area’s median income estimate.

The process of applying can be complicated and extremely frustrating for single mothers who are not familiar with the process. However, here are some quick pointers on what you will need to provide to your local Housing Administrator.

  • You will need to provide the names of all of the people who will be living in the unit, their gender, their date of birth, and their relationship to the family head.
  • You will need to provide your current address and telephone number so that the housing administrator can evaluate your prospects as a tenant.
  • You must mention your family characteristics (e.g., veteran, single mother) and/or circumstances (e.g., you currently live in inadequate housing) that can qualify you for a special preference.
  • You must provide the contact information of your current and previous landlords so the Housing Administrator can determine your suitability as a tenant.
  • You must provide an estimate of your household’s projected income for the next twelve months and where that income will come from.
  • You must also provide the names and addresses of employers and banks so that the Housing Administrator can verify your income.

If the Housing Administrator can provide you with immediate assistance, you will probably be moved into a new living situation within a month. However, if the Housing Administrator cannot provide you with immediate assistance, you will be placed on a waiting list according to your qualifications and the preferences assigned to you during the application process. There is no average wait time for people on waiting lists. Depending on your location, you could be on the waiting list for weeks, months, or even years.

Overall, the program offered by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development has some major advantages and some major disadvantages. The major advantage of the program is that it normally provides housing at a cheaper rate than a private organization can negotiate for you. However, the program has a couple of major disadvantages. First, the qualifications for the program can be very hard to meet for single mothers. Second, the program does not often provide them with a speedy resolution to their housing situation. Depending on her situation, a single mother could find an employment opportunity that would disqualify her for the program before her name ever reaches the top of the waiting lists. Consequently, anyone who applies to this program should be very active in researching other alternatives so that they obtain assistance in a timely manner.

You can visit the US Department of Housing & Urban Development for more information at the following link:


Social Serve.com

SocialServe.com is a private, non-profit organization that partners with the Federal government and landlords to provide people in need of quality, affordable housing with a myriad of choices. The opportunities that SocialServe.com provides are not necessarily completely dependent on Federal programs, which may result in a single mother obtaining the housing that she needs faster than if she sought help from a Federal program like the program that the Department of Housing & Urban Development offers.

Because SocialServe.com does not provide the housing directly, the qualifications may vary depending on whether the single mother is connected directly to a landlord or SocialServe.com redirects her through a Federal program. However, you will not have to worry about the complications of the application process because they provide around the clock support in both English and Spanish.

SocialServe.com is a more appealing option to many single mothers because it provides them with fast solutions at affordable rates. However, the disadvantage of SocialServe.com is that it does not offer a wider array of housing choices. A single mother may be only offered a single choice based on what SocialServe.com determines is the best match for her. Needless to say, this can result in undesirable living circumstances or an endless cycle of matching attempts.

You can find more information regarding the programs that SocialServe.com offers at the following link:


Mercy Housing

Unlike SocialServe.com and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, Mercy Housing deals only with apartment units and specializes in helping people such as seniors, special needs people, and single mothers. The other difference between Mercy Housing and the two programs mentioned above is that Mercy Housing is a for-profit property management organization.

Mercy Housing guarantees a two week response time after contact, but does not guarantee that you will be accepted. The requirements for Mercy Housing units vary based on your state as well as the programs that they will connect you with. General observations have concluded that their requirements are similar to the ones that the Department of Housing & Urban Development uses.

As with the other programs, Mercy Housing has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage of Mercy Housing is that a single mother is guaranteed a fast decision and she has the choice to select from a variety of rental apartments. However, the disadvantage of Mercy Housing is that the rates for rental can be somewhat higher than those that a single mother could obtain through SocialServe.Com or the Department of Housing & Urban Development.

For more information on the affordable rental opportunities that are available through Mercy Housing, you can go to the following link:


CoAbode Single Mothers House Sharing

The CoAbode “mom matching” program aims to connect single moms who are looking for affordable housing through the government & whose interests and parenting philosophies are compatible. Single moms can enroll in this program by filling out their profile information & their accomodation needs such as rent, neighborhood, and school zones. The CoAbode single mothers program welcomes everyone, from divorcees to widowed moms. To find more information on this program, visit the website below.

Membership is free and once you make a profile on this website, you will be asked to fill a questionnaire. Once complete, you will be able to find other single moms who meet similar criteria and be able to contact them through a private email inbox. If you would prefer to move to a new state, this service lets you search for housemates by entering a zip code & & city. As for finding a housemate, it can generally take between a few weeks to several months. The organization suggests being proactive, positive & persistent when searching for a housemate at all times; this greatly increases your chance of finding a compatible housemate faster.

Website: www.coabode.org

Housing Choice Voucher Program & State Rental Assistance Program

This organization provides emergency housing vouchers to low income families who would otherwise not be able to afford to live in a home. The housing choice voucher program is the government’s major program for assisting very-low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market (Source: portal.hud.gov)

In 2015, Congress allocated $19.3 billion for the voucher program. $17.5 billion went to voucher renewals and $1.5 billion for administrative fees.

Rental Assistance

Finding housing can be very difficult for a single mother and almost always costs more than a rented apartment. However, if the single mother is already living in a rented apartment, she may find it more suitable to get assistance for her rent bill than it would be to find more affordable housing. Unfortunately, the possibilities of getting rental assistance from a private organization are miniscule to say the least. Although the US Treasury Department and several other Federal agencies have programs to assist people with rent expenses, the most common and successful rental assistance program is run by the Department of Housing & Urban Development. The qualifications are pretty similar to the ones for affordable housing and are listed below:

  • You will need to provide the names of all of the people who will be living in the unit, their gender, their date of birth, and their relationship to the family head.
  • You will need to provide your current address and telephone number so that the housing administrator can evaluate your prospects as a tenant.
  • You must mention your family characteristics (e.g., veteran, single mother) and/or circumstances (e.g., you currently live in inadequate housing) that can qualify you for a special preference.
  • You must provide the contact information of your current and previous landlords so the Housing Administrator can determine your suitability as a tenant.
  • You must provide an estimate of your household’s projected income for the next twelve months and where that income will come from.
  • You must also provide the names and addresses of employers and banks so that the Housing Administrator can verify your income.

In addition to these qualifications, single mothers must meet the same income qualifications that are required to apply for affordable housing. These standards state that the annual total household income of a single mother must be at the following levels: 80 percent of the median income for the area of application, 50 percent of the median income for the area of application, or 30 percent for the median income for the area of application.

Overall, rental assistance is the easiest and most convenient way to obtain housing assistance that we will discuss in this article. Because it does not involve finding a new living situation for the single mother, it is relatively easy to get an application approved and obtain the necessary assistance to maintain the standard of living necessary to adequately support a small child. The single mother will not have to wait her turn on a waiting list in most cases and will have her application approved much quicker than an application for new housing.

To get more information on rental assistance, please visit the following link at the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s website:


Mortgage Assistance

According to the statistics that the US Census Bureau gathered, single mothers who have a mortgage obligation are extremely rare. Nevertheless, the fact still remains that there are individuals who are in this situation and the addition of a child to their household does make life much more difficult for them. Owning a home has been symbolic of the American dream. It is a symbol of economic success and achievement. More importantly, owning a home provides a person with far greater comforts and conveniences than they could obtain in an apartment. Single mothers who can retain their homes after the birth of their children can give their children better lifestyle due to the comfort and security that will always be present in a contained environment. Therefore, single mothers who do have a mortgage on a house should make every effort to keep their current living situation due to the privileges that it offers.

However, paying a mortgage and supporting a young child will almost certainly be impossible for a single mother. The good news is that there is a wide array of options open to single mothers who wish to make their mortgages more manageable. The US Treasury Department and Federal Housing Finance Agency both offer government sponsored programs to provide mortgage assistance to people who qualify. Most banks, credit unions, and other lending institutions have programs through which a person can refinance their loans to make them more affordable in their current budgets.

Making Home Affordable (US Treasury)

The financial crisis of 2008 placed enormous pressure on the housing market and lending institutions. Individuals who had taken adjustable rate mortgages saw their interest rates spike to record levels and many had their homes foreclosed on because their mortgages became too expensive to pay off. With the housing market on the verge of total collapse and thousands of Americans facing a certain housing problem, the US Treasury Department enlisted the help of the Department of Housing & Urban Development to create this program to provide mortgage assistance to homeowners.

The Making Home Affordable program help eligible homeowners to lower their monthly payments and get into fixed interest rate loans, which will provide them with some measure of financial security over the long term. To be eligible for the types of assistance offered through this program, you must meet some of the following conditions (These are subject to changes on a case by case basis. You must consult with your mortgage provider to ascertain if you are eligible for an exception.):

  • Your mortgage must not be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • You must owe more than your home is worth at the current market value (This will be judged by an evaluator).
  • You must occupy the house as your primary residence.
  • You have obtained your mortgage on or before January 1, 2009.
  • Your mortgage payment must be more than 31 percent of your gross (pre-tax) monthly income.
  • You must owe up to $729,750 on your 1st mortgage.
  • You have a financial hardship and are either delinquent or in danger of falling behind on your monthly mortgage payments.
  • You must have sufficient, documented income to support the modified payment plan.
  • You must not have been convicted within the last 10 years of felony, larceny, theft, fraud or forgery, money laundering, or tax evasion, in connection with a mortgage or real estate transaction.

Because each lending institution operates differently, a single mother will be certain to find exceptions to the normal procedures and guidelines. This option from the Making Home Affordable program will reduce the total principal that she will have to pay as well as her monthly payments. This relief will enable her to maintain her current living situation and place her on a track to financial revival.

To find out more about the Making Home Affordable program, you can visit the following link:


The Federal Housing Finance Agency

The Federal Housing Finance Agency was another result of the 2008 financial crisis. This agency was established by Congress to regulate the mortgage and housing markets. When refinancing through a private lender is difficult or next to impossible, the Federal Housing Finance Agency can provide a homeowner with the necessary government assistance to refinance their loans and obtain new, stable mortgages.

The primary instrument for the Federal Housing Finance Agency is the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Home Affordable Refinance Program provides an easy way for homeowners who qualify to refinance their loans without experiencing many of the difficulties that they may encounter at a traditional, private lending institution. The qualification requirements are listed below:

  • Your loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. This can be waived in special circumstances.
  • The loan was taken on or before May 31, 2009.
  • The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent.
  • The borrower must be current on their mortgage with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.

In order to see if you qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, you must contact your lending institution. The qualifications that were listed above are only general guidelines and there have been instances where they have been waived for people with special circumstances.

For single mothers who are facing foreclosure as the result of the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency provides a convenient and cost-effective way for them to save their homes by refinancing their mortgages. This step often results in a lower interest rate and a reduced principal.

To learn more about the programs that the Federal Housing Finance Agency has to offer, please visit the following link:


Reducing Monthly Payments – Private Institutions

Most private banks and lending institutions are happy to offer individuals a chance to reorganize their mortgages through a process known as refinancing. Refinancing enables the mortgage holder to pay off their current mortgage immediately and negotiate a new loan for the remaining principal on their old mortgage. This option provides a single mother with multiple choices to make her mortgage payment more conducive to her monthly budget.

The most common mortgages that people hold today have adjustable interest rates instead of fixed interest rates. The advantage of an adjustable interest rate is that it is much lower than a fixed interest rate is when the loan is initially taken. However, over the life of the loan, the adjustable interest will change based on conditions within the ever complex housing market. Consequently, many homeowners often end up owing much more to the lender than the fixed interest rate would have cost them. This condition places significant pressure on the homeowner’s budget, often making it impossible for them to continue living in their homes. By refinancing their mortgages, single mothers can reduce their interest rates and, as a result, their monthly payments.

Another advantage of refinancing is that a single mother can also reduce the principal that she owes on her loan by taking advantage of Federal and state grants. These grants can significantly reduce the principal of the mortgage, but a single mother should not depend on their availability as it varies from location to location and from lender to lender.

So what are the requirements for refinancing a mortgage? The only clear answer to this question is that you must show adequate proof of income in order to assure the bank that you will be able to repay the loan in full. Otherwise, the additional requirements vary from lending institution to lending institution.

Emergency Housing

No one wants to reach the position of having to obtain emergency housing. If you have to obtain emergency housing, it means that you have no place to live and you have exhausted all avenues through which you can obtain a living situation. This is especially true for a single mother. She knows that her child’s life will be in danger if she does not provide it with adequate shelter from the element. However, seeking an emergency housing situation can be just as heart-wrenching as the circumstances that force her from her previous living situation. She could be exposing her child to people who may have no scruples and various diseases that would drastically affect her child’s health. Consequently, resorting to emergency housing should be a last resort and must be avoided at all costs.

The other aspect of an emergency housing situation is that it is almost always temporary. With no stability, a single mother may be forced to wander from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. This will severely limit her ability to find a means to pull herself and her child out of the financial quagmire that they have fallen into. Unfortunately, there are very few homeless shelters that will provide a single mother with anything close to a stable living situation.

Most private charities and organizations for helping people in this situation partner with the Federal government who provides them with subsidies to help arrange emergency housing in hotel rooms and apartments. Some of these organizations are for profit institutions, but for profit institutions should be avoided in this case as they will almost always take advantage of the people who come to them for assistance. Non-profit organizations are much more reputable and are under closer government supervision. They provide a reasonable solution for people who urgently need emergency housing.

Most emergency housing aid is offered by private organizations at the local level. There are very few reputable organizations that offer programs to help people with emergency housing at the national level. Consequently, this aspect of housing assistance for single mothers cannot be comprehensively covered. Therefore, a single mother who is looking for assistance in the form of emergency housing must look at the local level for the alternatives that are available to her. The following sections cover a few emergency housing organizations that operates nationally.

The Vision House

The Vision House is a private, non-profit charity organization that has been providing shelter to homeless people since 1990. Unlike the traditional homeless shelters, the Vision House offers a program to help people who come to them for emergency housing by gradually getting them a job and helping them find an affordable living situation. Residents are encouraged to stay 18 months to 2 years to get an education although the organization does allow a four year stay if the resident does pursue a four year college degree.

Vision House requires its residents to pay 30% of their net income after tax and agree to its community guidelines, which ban alcohol and drug use. In return, it provides them with money management assistance, counseling, childcare, transportation, and access to medical and dental care. For single mothers, it provides a safe haven where their children will be safe and they can obtain a job and an education that will enable them to eventually support themselves.

To learn more about the emergency housing solutions that Vision House has to offer, please visit the following link:


Love In The Name Of Christ (Love INC)

Love In Christ is a faith-based charity that operates nationally across the United States. Unlike the Vision House, Love INC does not operate from locally based organizational centers. Instead, it redirects applicants to a national “Clearing House”. When an applicant submits an application for aid (food, water, shelter, etc.), their request is entered into the Clearing House database, which in turn searches for available resources in the applicant’s area. Because Love INC is a network based charity, the applicant will then be matched to a pastor or a local partner who can provide the applicant with assistance based on his or her needs.

One of the advantages of applying to Love INC for assistance is that there are very few strings attached to the financial aid that their affiliates will provide the applicant with. At the very most, the applicant may be required to attend a few religious gatherings and participate in some community activities. Another advantage of applying to Love INC is that they have affiliates in every state that can help the applicant with a minimal wait time. Single mothers can also be assured that, in a faith based environment, their children are reasonably safe from bad influence and potential dangers that may await them in a traditional homeless shelter or charity.

The disadvantage of applying to Love INC is that the applicant may be offended if they are required to attend religious gatherings as part of the conditions for receiving charity. For people who do not believe in Christianity, this will present a major problem. However, it is important to remember that, if you need help, you must do what it takes to get it. Consequently, you would be wise to show up to the gathering, but remain quiet in your own beliefs. This type of relief is only temporary and the important thing is to get yourself back on your feet.

To gather more information on what Love In Christ charity has to offer, please visit their website at the following link:


Transitional Housing Grant Program

The transitional housing grant program focuses on people who have gone through domestic or dating violence, stalking or sexual harassment and aims to move them in to permanent housing. Grants under this program can be used for short term housing needs such as rent or utility payments, and assistance with related expenses such as payment of security deposits and other costs incidental to relocation to transitional housing. For more information, please use the contact info below:

U.S. Department of Justice
Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)
145 N Street, NE, Suite 10W.121
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone: 202-307-6026
Fax: 202-305-2589
TTY: 202-307-2277
Website: https://www.justice.gov/ovw


Providing adequate shelter for a child is the primary responsibility of any parent. Unfortunately, economic circumstances can make the fulfillment of this responsibility extremely difficult, if not impossible. When this happens, a single mother has no choice but to look for financial assistance. The information provided in the guide above should be useful for any single mother who needs a form of housing assistance. It may not provide you with everything that you need to know about your specific situation, but it will help dispel the confusion and the complexity of the process of obtaining financial assistance.

In the option outlined above, finding affordable housing should be a single mother’s first objective. By finding affordable housing, she can maintain her financial independence and care for her children in an environment that she knows is secure and safe for them. This option will enable her to attempt to better her career opportunities at her own pace.

Rental assistance should be the next step. Owning an apartment is much easier than owning something larger. If the single mother is struggling to meet her rental bills, obtaining rental assistance should be something that she does immediately. It is imperative that she maintain an independent living environment for her child.

In the rare event that a single mother needs mortgage assistance, she should go to a private financial institution first. Private financial institutions are used to helping individuals restructure mortgages in order to help them stay within their budgets. Therefore, a single mother will be able to retain her home due to the assistance that she can obtain to readjust her budget.

Emergency housing is an option that no one wants to face; however, if a single mother is faced with a situation where she needs to obtain emergency housing, she must try to find an organization like Vision House or Love INC that will offer her a path to financial independence through an education and a solid career path.

There is no shame in requesting financial assistance for your housing needs. However, picking the right kind of housing assistance can be extremely complicated, frustrating, and difficult. The important thing to remember is that the comfort and wellbeing of your child comes first. Consequently, you must do whatever it takes to provide them with a safe and secure environment in which to live.

If you are reading this article looking for some guidance on obtaining housing assistance, hopefully it has provided you with some information to make the process of obtaining the help you need easier. Being a parent is hard work and it takes a lot of work and commitment. Being a single mother is even harder and takes almost superhuman work and commitment. Sometimes, the burden can discourage you, but there are resources to make the task easier. We wish you all of the luck in the world on obtaining the assistance that you need!

1 Response

  1. Aaliyah says:

    Hi I’m pregnant and have a daughter shes not in my care because of housing situations I have been looking for help for years I get snap benefits and I just wanna be able to get my daughter back and live comfortably I’m staying with a friend for now

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