Don’t Get Locked Out: Eviction Help for Single Mothers
In today’s uncertain times, financial pressure is increasing for many families, and this includes paying for housing. Not only is economic inequality on the rise, but research shows that having children actually increases the likelihood of receiving an eviction judgement in court. These statistics are shocking and scary, but there are ways you can seek assistance and protect yourself and those depending on you.
If you’re looking for eviction help for single mothers, you have come to the right place. We’re here to empower you to handle a pending eviction in the best way possible. This includes how to deal with an eviction notice, what some of your legal rights are, where to find pro bono legal help, and places where you can appeal for assistance.
If you’re scared of being locked out of your home, take a deep breath, keep calm and read on to get smart about how to handle a potential eviction.
Know You’re Not Alone
Between trying to put food on the table and pay for childcare, school, or distance learning, it’s no wonder that it’s easy for single mothers fall behind on rent.
Being a sole caregiver is one of the most challenging roles in society, and the current economic climate hasn’t made it any easier. Reports state that pandemic conditions are forcing more single mothers than ever into poverty.
The bottom line: don’t feel ashamed if you are struggling to meet your rent. You are not alone, and your economic situation has nothing to do with your value as a human being.
Here are some tips to help you through your situation.
Know The Steps Involved
The first step in the eviction process is typically a letter or other notice from your landlord demanding that back rent be paid or the premises vacated by a certain date. This communication is often known as a “notice to vacate,” “notice to quit,” “pay or quit,” or “eviction notice”, and it’s filled with language meant to intimidate.
It’s very important to note, however, that this is not the same thing as a court-ordered eviction. This is the landlord informing you of their intent to start eviction proceedings.
If you receive a letter like this, it’s important not to ignore it. If you do, this can stand against you in eviction court and give your landlord further grounds to evict you. Instead, face the problem head-on. You may have some luck by contacting your landlord or management company directly and seeing if you can work something out to get caught up on your rent. Court-ordered eviction proceedings are an expensive hassle for your landlord that they would almost certainly prefer to avoid.
If you aren’t able to stop the process at this level, you may then find yourself served with a legal summons and complaint. This document may be a “Notice of Motion” or similar, and you may find it tacked to your door or delivered to you personally by a process server. Either way, this event indicates the start of the eviction process in the court.
If you have received such a notice, you can file a petition with the court. This will attract a court fee. However, the court may waive the fee if you can prove that you qualify as low-income or unemployed.
Once you have filed a petition, you will get a chance to speak to the judge to explain your side. If you have to move out, the court will usually give you a period of time to make arrangements.
If you never received a notice of eviction, you can also file a petition for improper service. By law, a landlord must notify you of the eviction. If they do not prove that you received an official eviction notice, they cannot forcefully evict you or lock you out of your rental.
Take note that if you did receive an eviction notice, do not submit a petition claiming that it wasn’t delivered to try and draw out the eviction process. This will work further against you in court if you can’t prove it.
Know Your Legal Rights
When your landlord is trying to get you to move out, one of the essential self-help eviction steps is to get informed on your rights.
As a tenant, you’re entitled to receive reasonable accommodation from your landlord. This means that basic services like heat and water must be in order, and the building needs to be safe. Things like mold and lead-based paints can be a violation of these rights.
You are also entitled to the legal, court-approved eviction process. This means a landlord can’t evict or throw you out if the court hasn’t given the go-ahead. If they attempt to strong-arm you out of your accommodation, this is a violation of your rights.
Finding Legal Help
If you’re being intimidated and threatened by a landlord, one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to eviction help for single mothers is to find legal help.
An attorney will be able to help you navigate the court process and ensure you’re treated fairly.
Now you might be thinking, “How am I supposed to pay for an attorney when I am struggling to pay the rent?”
Fortunately, while most attorney fees are expensive, there are ways to find cheap or free legal help. There are federally funded legal services that provide lawyers who help those with low-income on legal matters, such as the not-for-profit Legal Services Corporation.
If you need a lawyer to help you and give tenant eviction help, one of the best places to start looking for one is through the American Bar Association. You can follow their links to find out more about pro bono (Latin for “without charge”) and federally funded legal help by visiting this page. Besides this, they also provide links to other useful resources and a free legal answers platform.
Negotiating an eviction process as smoothly as possible is still stressful. Even if you gain a little more time, depending on your situation you may still need to make arrangements for a new place to stay.
Often, the problem of finding new accommodation is the most challenging step of eviction.
Fortunately, there a variety of programs available that help single mothers secure accommodation. Some of these will assist with rent, and others also offer career-building opportunities that can increase one’s earning power and financial freedom.
These programs are divided into state level and federal level.
Depending on where you live, you may have a selection of state assistance programs available to you that are aimed at helping single mothers. Some of these might cater specifically to emergency eviction help.
Although we can’t list all of the current programs in all states, few are available in almost all states.
A great place to start is with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF is a valuable organization that provides temporary assistance to families, single mothers, and pregnant mothers who meet certain income requirements.
They pay for things like shelter, food, utilities, and certain expenses such as childcare.
Besides the state-level programs, some federal programs are available to single mothers and those seeking help with housing.
The three main programs are the:
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Program
- United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development
The Housing and Urban Development program has an extensive list of other programs you can look into that help low-income families who need financial assistance. They also facilitate low-income housing and provide section 8 vouchers.
The Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program helps people who’re rendered homeless and assists them with transitional and permanent housing.
Lastly, if you would like to enter the path to homeownership, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development facilitates grants to low-income individuals for purchasing a home.
Finding Emergency Shelter and Other Assistance Programs
Although several programs can provide emergency eviction help, sometimes the application process can take time.
If you need temporary shelter in the interim, you may need to apply to a shelter in your area. The best way to find potential shelters is to visit a shelter directory. Here are some of the main directories you can use:
Besides this, there are also several other assistance programs you can look at applying to, including:
- The Salvation Army
- Community Economic Development (CED)
- Coalition for the Homeless
- Volunteers of America
Through these programs, you can access various types of assistance, including help with shelter, food, childcare, afterschool programs, financial assistance, and assistance with utility shutoffs.
Eviction Help for Single Mothers: Staying Connected
Eviction can be very scary, especially if you are a single mother solely responsible for your children’s care.
If you are facing eviction, it is important you know that you’re not alone, are aware of your rights, find legal counsel, and seek assistance.
Besides this, it’s also essential that you stay connected. If you are without phone or internet services, it can be tough to move forward or contact the places and people that can offer tenant eviction help for single mothers.
As part of the Lifeline Government Benefit Program, we offer qualifying customers free wireless services. We know how important these services are to those in need and are committed to helping you stay connected.
Don’t get cut off from your support system and resources. Apply now for Lifeline.