Low-Income Housing Assistance for Single Mothers

Single mothers and fathers with low incomes often find housing assistance a lifesaver when considering the monthly cost of a clean, safe, decent living environment.

One-parent families struggle financially, given the difficulty of raising children alone while trying to hold a full-time job. At times, doing both must seem impossible.

Fortunately, the government does provide benefits to minimize homelessness. It pays to learn about the departments offering support and the types of shelter and rental apartments available.

Local county agencies and charitable nonprofit organizations are your best starting point. Find links to helpful resources to abbreviate your search and quickly get the help you need.

Local Housing Help Single Parents

Single mothers and fathers often need to find local low-income housing assistance quickly. While the federal government has several programs, you cannot apply directly to any of these departments.

Instead, your county agency or neighborhood charity might be a better starting point to find suitable living arrangements quickly.

Public Housing Agencies

Your local Public Housing Agency (PHA) is the first place low-income single moms and dads should look for when needing assistance with a rental apartment, transitional residence, or temporary shelter.

An online directory listing the PHA for each county could be your best resource. Begin at the state level and work your way down the list to obtain the contact information for the agency located in your county.

Begin your local PHA search here.

Down Payment Grants

FHA-researched down payment grants often involve second mortgages with payments that are forgiven, subsidized, or deferred until resale of the property

The most common grants for single mothers help with the down payment on a home purchase. Being able to afford the monthly mortgage payment with a low income is difficult enough. Saving money for a deposit in advance is even more challenging.

Charitable Organizations

Often, charitable organizations can be the right place for single moms and dads with low incomes to turn to when looking for local housing assistance. Sometimes, government grant money flows to nonprofit entities, who turn to donors to fill in funding gaps.

Below is a partial list of national nonprofits that could provide subsidized rental units or resources that connect you with an affordable place to live nearby.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities’ affordable housing programs provide temporary shelters & long-term assistance to vulnerable populations.

Bridge of Hope

Bridge of Hope trains and equips local Christian faith communities (churches, Bible study groups, house churches, etc.) from various Christian traditions to respond to the homeless in practical, tangible, and neighboring ways.


Socialserve is a nonprofit, bilingual call center that connects people to housing and provides supportive, second-chance employment. Socialserve assists prospective tenants in applying for waiting lists and programs.

Habitat for Humanities

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church and offers several housing assistance types to needy people.

  • Temporary shelter
  • Transitional residences
  • Permanent supportive apartments
  • Re-entry Resources

Federal Housing Help Single Parents

The Federal Government operates various housing assistance programs for low-income families. Single mothers and fathers frequently meet the resource criteria when one must juggle caring for children while earning wages.

Be sure to check out other government financial assistance programs. As you will see, the support begins at the federal level but most often ends locally.  

Housing & Urban Development

The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) provides three assistance programs to help low-income families afford a decent dwelling.

  1. Privately Owned Subsidized Apartments: helps property owners offer reduced rents
  2. Public Housing: affordable apartments for the elderly and persons with disabilities
  3. Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8): subsidizes monthly rental charges

Veterans Administration

The Veterans Administration (VA) provides housing assistance to former service members and their surviving spouses. The VA benefits help veteran families to buy, refinance, build, improve, and update homes.

  • Grants for particular adaptations to foster independent living
  • Home loans with smaller down payment requirements
  • Financial counseling to avoid mortgage foreclosures

Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides homeownership opportunities to rural Americans and home renovation and repair programs.

USDA also provides financing to elderly, disabled, or low-income rural residents in multi-unit apartment complexes to ensure that they can make rent payments.

Department of Treasury

The U.S. Department of Treasury (DOT) operates the Emergency Rental Assistance program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local entities allocate federal funds to eligible households.

The DOT program is temporary, and funding is running short at the time of publication. Perhaps the Biden administration will extend the benefit as the pandemic continues to rage and damage the economy.  

Housing Help Types Single Parents

Single mothers and fathers may want to understand the difference between the types of low-income housing assistance programs available. Sometimes, the definitions prove confusing, and a brief explanation might help you identify the best resource more quickly.

Emergency Shelters

Emergency shelters can provide homeless single moms and their children a decent, safe place to stay briefly (days or weeks). Low-income women often turn to these facilities during a financial or domestic crisis, such as abuse.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) publishes a comprehensive online directory of homeless shelters organized by the state.

A single database could be the shortest route to finding help quickly.

Transitional Housing

Low-income transitional housing provides single moms and dads with a safe place to stay while waiting to secure a long-term lease on a rental apartment. Many funding agencies place strict limits on how long you can stay in a transitional residence (3 to 9 months).

Free Apartments

Free apartments for single moms and dads with long-term leases (12 months) are a mirage. You may be able to find temporary shelter or transitional residences at no charge.

However, the low-income voucher programs for permanent apartment living make your accommodations affordable through a partial subsidy. Your (tenant) tenant portion of the rent will be the largest of three figures.

  1. 30% of net monthly income
  2. 10% of gross monthly income
  3. The minimum set by the local authority

In other words, your Section 8 voucher does not pay one hundred percent of your rent. However, if you derive your income from a government benefit program (Social Security, VA disability, unemployment, TANF, etc.), the tenant portion of your rent is technically free.