Washington D.C. tops the list of most expensive place to live in America. For many single mothers in D.C, it’s no bed of roses raising a family.
Despite working multiple jobs, the majority of them are still earning poverty wages, barely enough to afford life’s most basic necessities.
The State of District of Columbia, as with most U.S. states, realizes their plight and offers its own set of support programs.
The aim is to provide the much needed financial safety net in times of emergency while they work toward becoming self-sufficient.
The District of Columbia, along with twenty six states, offers its working low-income residents a state EITC, which is modeled after the federal guidelines and eligibility rules.
D.C.’s EITC is offered at 40% of the federal credit, and is fully refundable. In the vast majority of cases, the credit is received as a lump sum as part of a tax refund early the following year.
For example, a single mother with two children and $25,000 in wages would have been eligible for federal EITC of $3,794 and a D.C.’s EITC of $1,518, totaling over $5,300 in tax credits.
TANF provides temporary cash assistance to needy families with dependent children under 19 years of age whose income barely enough to make ends meet.
A central component of the TANF program is its emphasis on work. Adult TANF recipients must participate in work activities as a condition of receiving cash benefits, unless otherwise exempt.
You may apply for TANF in person at your Economic Security Administration (ESA) Service Center. To locate your nearest ESA Service Center, call (202) 727-5355.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a program that enables low income individuals and families to buy a variety of food staples that is the basis for better nutrition.
A family of three in D.C. with gross monthly income not more than 130% of the poverty thresholds may qualify for SNAP benefits, worth up to $422 per month.
D.C. is one of the few states that do not impose work requirements on SNAP recipients but pledged to provide employment and training programs to anyone who wants them.
WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, new mothers, infants and children up to age 5 who are at health risk due to inadequate nutrition.
To be fully eligible for the program, applicants must be determined by a health professional, through a health & diet assessment, to be at nutritional risk.
To apply for the WIC Program in the District of Columbia, call 1 (800) 345-1WIC to schedule an appointment at a WIC site near you.
Medicaid offers health care coverage for D.C. residents who meet the program’s eligibility requirements for Medicaid. It covers families with children, pregnant women, and people who are aging, blind and disabled.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid will now cover uninsured parents with incomes up to 216% of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 for a single mother of two.
The District of Columbia is operating its own Health Insurance Marketplace, known as DC Health Link — through which D.C. residents can enroll for Medicaid, SCHIP or other private health insurance.
D.C. Healthy Families is for families with children under age 19 and for pregnant women who live in the District of Columbia whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid.
The program is free or very low-cost for families who don’t have health insurance. Services covered by DC Healthy Families include doctors visits, vision & dental care, prescriptions, hospitalization, and more.
In the District of Columbia, children with family incomes up to 319% of poverty or about $65,100 for a family of 3 are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid.
The District of Columbia operates a federally-funded child care assistance program that helps eligible families pay for child care. It provides assistance with payment for child care on a sliding fee basis.
The amount varies based on the your gross monthly income, family size, and type and cost of care AND since it is a subsidy, you may be required to pay for some of the child care costs.
If you’re applying for the first time, you must visit to the Child Care Services Division in person (Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday between 8:15 am – 3:30 pm).
Child Care Services Division
4001 South Capitol Street SW
Washington, DC 20032
As slots are limited, walk-in visits for new applicants are on a “first come, first serve” basis.
In D.C., DCHA administers Housing Choice Voucher Program to help low income residents find affordable housing by providing vouchers to help participants pay rent in privately owned properties across the city.
Participants pay a portion of the rent that is based on a percentage of the family’s income — usually not more than 30%, and DCHA pays the rest of the rent directly to the landlord.
Be prepared for a long wait, as thousands of applicants are already on the waiting list. Priority is given to the homeless families, but even they might wait two to three years.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) helps low-income District residents facing housing emergencies. The program provides rental assistance, including security deposits and arrearages, in the form of a one-time payment.
ERAP serves low-income families with children, the elderly (age 60 or older) and people with disabilities who are at imminent risk of homelessness.
Generally, ERAP pays no more than 5 months of overdue rents, and usually no more than a total of $4,250. For security deposits and the first month’s rent, ERAP can pay up to $900.
D.C. is set to create one of the most generous paid leave programs in the nation — guaranteeing certain periods of paid family and medical leave to eligible employees starting on July 1, 2020.
D.C. promises to cover employees with 8 weeks of paid parental leave, 6 weeks of paid family leave, and 2 weeks of paid personal medical leave. Those who are receiving unemployment insurance or long-term disability payments are not eligible.
Eligible individuals who earn 150% of the D.C. minimum wage or less will receive 90% of their average weekly wage, up to a $1,000 weekly cap.
Unemployment insurance (UI) provides temporary unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, and who are ready, willing, and able to work — up to $438 per week.
In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be a resident of the District of Columbia, have worked in the past 12 to 18 months, and have earned at least a minimum amount of wages as determined by state’s UI guidelines.
UI benefits can be filed online or if you do not have access to the internet, you may call the UI call center at 202-724-7000 to file your claim by phone.
DC TAG is a need-based grant that allows college-bound D.C. residents to attend any public institution in the country as if they are a resident of the school’s state.
DC TAG provides up to $10,000 toward the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public four-year colleges and universities anywhere the country.
To be considered for DC TAG, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the DC OneApp Online Application.1References
- To complete the DC OneApp, visit www.dconeapp.dc.gov.