For the single mother, just like for any parents, the job of raising children starts with putting a roof over their heads. But that can be easier said than done, as any working single mother knows.
In many cases, the best jobs for single mothers are located in areas where the cost of housing is too high. Sometimes, the only affordable housing options are not places where a single mother wants to raise her children, whether it’s because of poor quality in the home or its location in an unsafe community.
Fortunately, there are many avenues for a single mother to find affordable housing. Programs are available to help single mothers pay little or no rent on an apartment or to help reduce mortgage payments on a home. Affordable housing for single mothers is a top priority for both state governments and the federal government as a means of reducing the poverty rate and cutting down on crime.
First Stop: HUD
One federal agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was created for the sole purpose of providing affordable housing for all types of people, including single mothers. The mission of HUD involves finding safe areas for people to live, and to work with the housing market to protect renters and homeowners.
HUD can help single mothers in several ways:
- Rental assistance
The rental assistance program offered by HUD has a few different opportunities for single mothers to explore. One facet involves privately owned subsidized housing, in which HUD works with apartment owners to offer reduced rents for tenants who are low-income. Many apartment buildings today have a percentage of apartments that are reserved for low-income tenants. After meeting income requirements, these tenants are eligible to pay a rate that is in keeping with how much money they make. Eligible single mothers can apply directly at the management office of the apartment building to secure a place to live.
- Public housing
HUD has also worked to build and maintain affordable apartments for groups of people who are often edged out of the housing market, including the disabled, the elderly and low-income families, including single mothers who are the head of the household. A public housing agency in your area can help you find and apply for housing as a single mother.
- Housing choice vouchers
This federally funded program uses a voucher system to help low-income people find decent and affordable places to live in the private housing market. This could include a home, a townhouse or an apartment because the voucher program is not limited to specific communities or housing projects. To be eligible for the housing voucher program, a single mother must typically make 30-50% of the area median income, which can vary by location. The HUD housing voucher program is administered by local public housing authorities, which will collect information about income levels and family size during the application process. Families who receive a housing voucher will typically only have to pay a fraction of the rent on a privately owned apartment or home. In some cases, they can use the vouchers to purchase a home.
Outside the federal government there are many affordable housing options offered to single mothers by nonprofit groups and civic organizations, ranging from Habitat for Humanity to the Ronald McDonald House charities. We will discuss those in a later blogpost.