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Assistance programs in Washington DC.

Find a listing of charities, non-profits, government assistance programs from Department of Human Services, and other organizations that can provide help in the Washington DC area. Receive emergency financial assistance with everything from paying your rent, to heating and utility bills or a security deposit or mortgage. Or get free food, Christmas toys or back to school supplies or free counseling for debt or foreclosures, and much more.

A number of agencies help low income as well as struggling families in the District of Columbia. Both short term help, such as free government internet service for low income households as well as job training, career fairs, and financial budgeting is arranged..

Get emergency financial help in the District of Columbia

Catholic Charities - DCEAF - Southeast Family Center ((202) 574-3442), Capitol Hill Group Ministry (202) 548-4012, Near Northeast Community Improvement Corporation ((202) 399-6900), Marshall Heights ((202) 396-1200), Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ ((202) 723-2542), UPO - Anacostia Community Service Center ((202) 610-0466) all offer rent assistance and utility services to residents. The goal is to stop homelessness.

The applicant need to be in receipt of an eviction or court or eviction notice, disconnected utility services or cut-off notice, with an emergency situation that is contributing to an inability to pay for their rent or utilities. In addition, applicants need to have the ability to make future payments for these expenses and the applicant must show a willingness to work with a case manager. The financial assistance is part of Emergency Social Services. Call (202) 548-4012.

Catholic Charities - ERAP - Southeast Family Center - This non-profit refers families and individuals to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The program may be able to help applicants and refer people to locations around the city which provide housing assistance. ERAP may help pay late costs, overdue rent, legal fees and court fees, security or damage deposit, and first month's rent for eligible individuals. Call (202) 574-3442.




Several other Catholic Charity programs provide financial assistance. There is also help for immigrants and minorities, dental care, food, and additional services in Washington DC. Click here Washington DC Catholic Charities assistance programs.

Center City Community Corporation - This non-profit addresses a residents immediate needs by providing, when available, assistance with free food and clothing. Provides referrals for furnishings through Central Union Mission's emergency furniture program. In addition, the agency also assists with mortgage, rent, heating and utility payments for residents of Ward 2 North of the 1100 block of M Street, NW. Call (202) 789-0868

Change, Inc. - The non-profit offers emergency housing assistance, rent, mortgage payment, and utility and heating bill assistance . The charity will focus on residents of Ward 1 and Ward 4 in Washington DC. Call (202) 387-3725.

Community Council for the Homeless, phone (202) 364-1419, provides FEMA emergency rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to residents of Ward 3.

Community Family Life Services - Provides weekly distribution of groceries to low-income families in zip code 20001. Also emergency rent and utility assistance is available if someone has a disconnection or eviction notice. Find other emergency LIHEAP utility programs. Phone number of Life Services is (202) 347-0511

Capitol Hill Group Ministry covers Ward 6. For residents with the means to pay future bills on their own, the non-profit may offer emergency rental assistance, grants for heating or utility bills, funeral help, and transportation. Some clients may be given no interest loans for their housing needs. The location is 1338 G Street SE, Washington DC 20003. Call (202) 544-3150.

Greater Washington DC Urban League - The center provides rent help, mortgage payment and utility bill assistance to families and individuals who are living in the city, including but not limited to Ward 5. They support residents of the District of Columbia through the DC Emergency Assistance Fund. Call (202) 529-8701

Other programs from GWUL include grants for paying water bills from SPLASH and heating bill assistance. The League also addresses employment from the on-site career center, coordinates home buying and free foreclosure prevention, and offers other financial aid. Find help from Greater Washington Urban League.





UPO United Planning Organization community action agency runs several emergency financial assistance and self-sufficiency programs in the District of Columbia. There may also be loan programs for paying bills. They offer homeless prevention, job training, education, free food, and shelters too.

  • While the goal is to prevent homelessness by offering grants or loans to pay rent, for those that are currently without a place to live a shelter is available. Also get help in locating affordable housing in the Washington DC area and learn about resources to pay a security deposit on an apartment.
  • Apply for public aid such as cash assistance, SSDI disability or food stamps.
  • Employment programs and scholarships are administered as part of their Career Development Services.
  • Many other services are offered by the non-profit United Planning Organization. Click here for details on United Planning Organization programs.

District of Columbia Department of Human Services runs the public assistance programs in the District. There is support for the poor and families living in or near poverty. The benefit programs include, but are not limited too, SNAP food stamp applications as well as SSI or SSDI disability. They offer elder care, information on Medicaid for free healthcare, and cash assistance. Or learn about employment and other resources. The DC DHS has many short term grant programs for the poor. Get more details on benefits for disabled people. Or call the District of Columbia DHS (Department of Human Services) at (202) 727-5355 for details.

Housing Counseling Services also runs the ERAP housing program, which may be able to help pay overdue housing and rent expenses, late costs, security or damage deposit, court fees, and first month's rent and other housing expenses. Call (202) 667-7006

Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ provides financial help to qualified families in Ward 4. The non-profit offers emergency housing assistance, rent, mortgage payment, or utility and heating bill assistance to residents. There may be funds to stop evictions or help for those with disconnected utility services. The address is 5301 North Capitol Street NE in Washington DC, or dial (202)-723-5330.

Regardless of what Ward you live in Salvation Army - Social Service Office (phone (202) 332-5000) may be able to provides eligible low income DC residents with assistance. Receive free food, funds for paying rent, prescription medicines, utility bills, or free clothing or furniture (for those over 60). The faith based charity also provides free back to school supplies to students as well as Christmas gifts or meals for families. Volunteers also arrange transportation.

In addition, the Salvation Army has transitional housing as well as hotel vouchers. They also run the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF) for heating bills. Find more Washington DC Salvation Army assistance programs.

  • Another option is th Salvation Army - East of the River Initiative - Ward 8 residents only may be able to access emergency rent, mortgage, and utility bill assistance under the DC Emergency Assistance Fund. Another services that is offered, which is in cooperation with Washington gas, may be able to help Washington DC area residents pay their home heating bills through the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF). Call (202) 561-2000





Free emergency lodging, in the form of motel or hotel vouchers, are offered from some charities as well as churches in Washington District of Columbia as well as nationwide. They can help the homeless, women fleeing domestic violence, homeless teens, and recently evicted. A free voucher is for short term stay only. More on free motel vouchers from churches.

Free assistance at the holidays - Whether a low income family needs a box of food or a free Christmas gift for their child, or a senior needs companionship or a holiday meal delivered to them, there are charities and churches to try. They offer support at Christmas (in particular free toys for kids), Thanksgiving, Easter, and other key events. Find Christmas and Holiday help in Washington DC.

Shaw Community Service Center (phone (202) 462-6401) provides qualified individuals with job training, career counseling, clothing, and emergency food and commodities, rental help, and heating and utility assistance. Also learn about such services as free heating oil.

Bethesda Cares is focused on the very low income and homeless. All clients need to go through an outreach process, and examples of what may provided are below.

  • The homeless can look into rehousing, including transitional apartments or grants to pay the security deposit on a new home.
  • Basic needs, including free hygiene items, food, and meals are administered.
  • Health care, including some eye check ups, are part of the MobileMed clinic.
  • Many other assistance programs are provided, including resources from the Hunger Ministry and other charity partners. More on Bethesda Cares assistance programs.

SVDP - Society of Saint Vincent, helps the poor, homeless, and less fortunate. Several churches are part of the Conferences, and they focus on different wards. Find some of the following. Free food or hot meals, homeless shelters, mobile medical clinics, clothes, furniture and more. Volunteers also direct clients and visist them to assess needs. More on Washington DC SVDP assistance programs.

Housing services from Volunteers of America are available. They operate shelters, transitional apartments/homes, and can help with permanent housing placement. The nationwide network supports veterans and seniors, as well as the disabled in Washington DC. There are even referrals to free Greyhound bus tickets among other resources.

Staff may have suggestions on where to get help preventing an eviction as well. VOA is a nationwide charity with a major focus on housing, veterans (and their families) as well as those with more unique circumstances. More details on Volunteers of America in Washington DC and Chesapeake region.

Rental, security deposit and homeless prevention programs. Each year thousands of Washington DC families and residents fall behind on their rent, and face an eviction from their home or apartment. Many more may need help paying a security deposit or first months rent. Click here for a listing of places to turn to for help with rent in District of Columbia.

Community Partnership oversees a number of shelter, transitional housing, and rent assistance programs. Many of the resources are coordinated with other Washington DC non-profits and government agencies. Examples of what may be provide to those facing eviction or the homeless are as follows. Apply for Continuum of Care grants to pay rent from Project H.O.P.E., emergency shelters, and get assistance in locating and moving into a permanent home. Click details on assistance from Community Partnership.







There are many programs that can help Washington DC residents pay their utility bills. They include options and resources from government programs, non-profits, and even the utility companies themselves. Find how to get help with electric bills in Washington DC.

Debt counseling, housing and foreclosure services

Near Northeast Community Improvement Corporation is a center that provides a wide variety of services and financial assistance to Washington DC residents. Get help in the areas of Debt Counseling, Employment, Income Management, Foreclosure Assistance, Housing, Emergency and Nutrition Services based on customer needs that are determined at the intake assessment. Phone (202) 399-6900. Also read about Washington DC foreclosure mediation.

In addition to the services offered by the non-profit organization, there are other ways for Washington DC residents to get foreclosure help, mortgage assistance, and credit and debt counseling. Find other debt assistance programs, and locate information on foreclosure prevention.

In addition to these programs and resources, a large number of housing counselors area available to people in the DC area. You always want to ideally speak to and use the services of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified counselor, as many offer free debt reduction and foreclosure counseling services. Find a listing of Washington DC HUD counseling agencies and counselors.

Homeowners in the Washington DC area, including Maryland and northern Virginia, have access to federal government resources too. The mortgage servicer Fannie Mae offers individuals the ability to receive free advice, information on loan modifications and counseling. All of the services are intended to show homeowners can get back on track with paying their home loans. Click here to get details on the Fannie Mae DC help center, including hours of operate, phone number, and location.

Washington DC free food pantries and non-financial aid

Bread for the City - Provides food and groceries at most once a month to residents of SW, SE and NW Washington, DC who are disabled, elderly, or food can be provided to parents with children between 1 and 17. Call (202) 561-8587.

Central Union Mission - Food Bank may be able to provide emergency nonperishable food to women, men, individuals and families on an emergency one-time basis. In addition, they can provide more long-term food distribution on specific days of the week or month to the following groups: Hispanics, seniors, and single women with children. Call (202) 745-7118

Lutheran Church of the Reformation - Food Pantry, phone number (202) 543-4200, distributes a bag of groceries, which are dry goods, to feed a family of four for up to two days.

Peoples Congregational United Church - The non-profit organization distributes free food and groceries to persons in need only on Fridays but they must have a referral from Answers, Please! or another social service agency in Washington DC. Phone (202) 829-5511





A number of other distribution centers, soup kitchens and food banks provide free groceries, hot meals, food. Or they pass out clothing, produce, government commodities, and/or surplus food to the low income and others who need help. Find additional Washington DC food pantries, soup kitchens and free banks.

Free clothing, furniture and household goods - There are several churches, clothing closets, furniture banks and non-profit distribution centers in the city. Based on resources, they provide items such as school and work clothing, school supplies, free furniture and personal hygiene items to the low income and homeless. Many also give students from K to college free school supplies. Families can also purchase high quality, yet affordable, items at Washington DC area thrift stores. Learn more on Washington DC free clothing, furniture, and school supplies.

Free community clinics in District of Columbia area

Anacostia Community Health Center (phone (202) 610-7160) - Health care may be offered on a sliding fee scale. Services include a Comprehensive Integrated Delivery System (CIDS) which emphasizes prevention and a patient-centered environment. Includes dental hygiene, internal medicine, OB-Gyn, pediatrics, pharmacy, social services, nutrition, WIC, and supplemental foods.

Bread for the City offer no fee care and includes adult general medicine, pediatrics, free job physicals, and gynecology. Call (202) 265-2400

Columbia Road Health Services offer low cost and sliding fee medical care. The Washington DC community clinics provides primary medical and health care for family practitioners, which includes physical exams, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses and injuries, immunizations, health education, laboratory tests, medications and referrals to low cost or free specialists or other local doctors. Call (202) 328-3717.

Washington Free Clinic is another center that provide a wide variety of low cost medical care. (202) 667-1106

Whitman-Walker Clinic - Offers numerous and a wide variety of comprehensive health care, medical evaluations, ongoing primary medical care, and treatments for HIV disease and related illnesses. In addition, the community clinic also provides a dental, eye, Pentamidine (pneumocystis pneumonia), and Hepatitis B clinic. Also operates a pharmacy for the low income. Medical bills are based on a sliding scale.

Other community clinics that can provide low cost or health care on a sliding fee include Community of Hope - Health Center ((202) 232-9022), Fort Lincoln Family Medicine Center (call (301) 699-7700), Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care (phone (202) 483-8196), Unity Health Care ((202) 832-8818).

There are a number of other free community health care centers, community clinics, and places for medical care. They help the poor, uninsured, and gig workers among others. There are also “sliding-fee” locations, meaning income and assets may require patient participation. Read more and find free community health care centers near you.

Medical bill assistance for the uninsured is available in Washington DC. Whether you do not have any health insurance policy at all, or maybe your existing plan doesn’t cover your needs, then several government and non-profit resources may be able to assist. They can provide check ups, medications, cancer screenings, free health care for children and more. An application process is in place for these resources. More on Washington DC uninsured medical care programs.





Washington DC free dental centers

A large number of community clinics focus on meeting more so called general health care needs. Those locations are listed above. However many people can’t afford to pay their dental bills, or lack dental coverage on their health insurance plans. For these individuals free dental clinics in Washington DC may be their best option.


By Jon McNamara

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