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DHS Modified Operations During COVID-19

To mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Mayor Muriel Bowser modified DC Government operations effective Monday, March 16, 2020. The Department of Human Services remains operational and continues to provide essential services; however, there are changes to how some services are provided. Following below is an overview of DHS services and resources available during modified DC Government operations throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

Learn more about DC Government and DHS’ operating status, programs, and services.

For questions about any DHS services and information on current operational changes, please contact DHS at (202) 671-4200 or [email protected].

For more information and resources on the coronavirus (COVID-19) visit coronavirus.dc.gov.


District's COVID-19 Hotline & Web Portal

Residents that are homebound because of COVID-19 can request support from the District for food and other essential items.

Eligible residents can call 1-888-349-8323 or visit gethelp.dc.gov to have food and other essential items delivered to their homes if they have been directed by a medical provider to self-quarantine or have no other means to acquire these items.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine

The Department of Human Services is working with DC Health and Unity Health Care to ensure neighbors who are currently unhoused have access to the vaccine. Currently, visits to low-barrier shelters, the Pandemic Emergency Program for Medically Vulnerable Individuals (PEP-V) sites, and encampments are being conducted to ensure residents have the opportunity to get vaccinated. View COVID-19 Outreach and Engagement materials for low-barrier, seasonal and youth shelters, and additional COVID-19 vaccine information.  

All low-barrier shelters, family shelters, and shelters serving youth remain open.

  • Effective Monday, March 16, low-barrier shelter hours are extended throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. 

Hypothermia shelters are open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week during hypothermia season (November 1 - March 31).

The Virginia Williams Family Resource Center is conducting assessments for homeless services via phone. The Center is closed for in-person interviews throughout the public health emergency.

  • Families and individuals seeking access to homeless services may call the DC Shelter Hotline at (202) 399-7093 or call 311, 24 hours a day, seven days a week during Hypothermia Season (November 1 - March 31).

Homeless Services Outreach Workers are continuing to provide services to people experiencing homelessness with a focus on welfare checks, connection to medical support, and providing life-saving supplies such as hand sanitizer, blankets, etc.

Supporting Families in Shelter

  • The Homeless Children's Playtime Project has compliled resources to help support families and keep children playing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.
    • To view the Playtime guides, videos and to-go kits, click here


To help enforce social distancing and mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the following DHS Service Centers are open only for picking up and dropping off public benefits applications and documents:

  • Taylor Street located at 1207 Taylor Street NW
  • H Street located at 645 H Street NE
  • Congress Heights located at 4049 South Capitol Street SW

The Anacostia Service Center and Fort Davis Service Center are temporarily closed to help enforce social distancing and mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

All applications and documents must be placed in an envelope provided at the service center. Applicants must write their full name and phone number on the front of the envelope prior to placing it in an application drop box located in a service center lobby. Applications for public benefits are also available here

Residents with questions about their public benefits provided by DHS should contact the Call Center at (202) 727-5355 from 7:30 AM - 4:45 PM, Monday - Friday.



DC Access
DC Access is a new mobile application (mobile app) that provides District residents with convenient services for public benefits. DC Access is available to download through the Google Play or Apple App stores. For more information about DC Access and its services, visit dhs.dc.gov/dcaccess

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)
The P-EBT benefits were issued for the spring of the 2019-2020 school year and fall of the 2020-2021 school year (through September 2020).

At this time, the District of Columbia has not been authorized to provide additional P-EBT benefits.

To learn more about these benefits for food assistance, visit the P-EBT Information Page.  

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Congress has temporarily increased SNAP benefits for a six month period beginning in January 2021. For the month of January 2021, District residents participating in SNAP, will receive the increase as a separate deposit onto their EBT card. From February 2021 through June 2021, the temporary increase will be reflected in the SNAP participant's monthly SNAP benefit allotment. 

Supplemental Nutrition Assitance (SNAP) Online Purchasing Program
Effective, Wednesday, May 13, 2020, District residents participating in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) may use their benefits to make authorized food purchases online at participating retailers. Learn more about the program here.

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards

  • Effective Monday, April 20, all ESA customers will receive new and replacement EBT cards via U.S. mail. Cards will be sent to the customer's address on record in their ESA case. Customers may learn more about the mailing of EBT cards here.

Recertifications, Mid-Certifications and Interviews for Public Benefits

As of October 1, 2020, District residents receiving food or cash benefits are not required to complete a recertification to continue receiving benefits. In addition, customers receiving food benefits are not required to complete mid-certifications or interim reports. Customers are still required to report changes in accordance with requirements outlined in their benefit approval letter. Recertifications for medical assistance customers are also waived at this time. DHS will send notices to customers in 2021 when it's time to complete an action to continue receiving benefits. At this time, all interviews are waived. 

District residents currently receiving cash, food, or medical assistance are encouraged to update their mailing address and telephone number with DHS as necessary. Information may be updated by:  

  • Dropping off information at a DHS Service Center;
  • Submitting information online through the DC Benefits Portal or the DC Access mobile app;  
  • Mailing documents to a DHS Service Center; or, 
  • E-mailing* documents to a DHS Service Center. In addition to documents, residents must include their full namedate of birth, and telephone number. Email is only for the submission of additional information or verification eligibility documents. 
Congress Heights   [email protected]
H Street   [email protected]
Taylor Street   [email protected]

*Providing personal information and documents to the DC Department of Human Services Economic Security Administration (ESA) via email is done at your own risk. Emails sent from your personal or business email account may not be secure. This means that there is a possibility that a third-party will intercept that information and use it for malicious purposes such as fraud or identity theft. ESA provides the following alternatives to sending us documents and information via potentially unsecured email, including mailing in documents or dropping them off at a service center.

Residents with questions may contact the Call Center at (202) 727-5355, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:45 pm.

New Applications for Public Benefits

  • The application for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, Alliance, or other public benefits provided by DHS, is available on the DHS website (dcbenefits.dhs.dc.gov). Residents may also visit a DHS Service Center to pick up a blank application. District residents may also use the DC Access mobile app to submit new applications for food, cash and medical benefits.  
  • Applicants may drop off completed applications for public benefits at a DHS Service Center and may be contacted by phone as necessary to complete the eligibility process.



  • The Downtown Day Services Center has re-opened for appointment-only essential services for residents experiencing homelessness. Limited shower access, laundry services and phone charging will be available from 9 am to 5 pm and will be highly limited in order to maintain appropriate social distancing and enhanced cleaning. To schedule services, contact Pathways to Housing at (202) 674-2365 (9 am - 5 pm) or email [email protected] Services include:
    • restrooms;
    • showers;
    • laundry; 
    • phone charging;  
    • emergency clothing; and,
    • lunch service (available daily including weekends, from 11 am to 1 pm in the courtyard/park adjacent to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church). 
  • The Adams Place Day Center is closed throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. 
  • Zoe’s Doors Youth Drop-In Center located at 2001 Mississippi Avenue SE and the Sasha Bruce Youth Drop-In Center located at 741 8th Street SE are open.


Public Benefits

  • Customers receiving public benefits may call the Office of Administrative Hearing Review and Appeals at (202) 698-3955 or (202) 535-1182 to file a request for a Fair Hearing. 

Continuum of Care

  • Customers that receive services within the Continuum of Care (CoC) may file a request for a Fair Hearing by calling the Office of Administrative Hearings at (202) 442-9094 or the Supervisory Homeless Services Coordinator at (202) 698-4283 or (202) 809-4163. The Supervisory Homeless Services Coordinator is the designated point of contact for a request for appeal made directly to DHS. Providers have an obligation to help clients requesting assistance with an appeal and, upon request, file the appeal on behalf of the client. DHS will share with Providers the Client Appeal Request Form for Continuum of Care appeals. Client appeal forms should be submitted via email to [email protected]



Isolation and Quarantine Sites


DHS COVID-19 Electronic Mail Distribution List

  • Join the DHS COVID-19 Distribution List by sharing your email address here.

General Requests

  • For general requests, we will respond as soon as we are able. If you have not heard back from us in 24 hours, please contact the DHS main line at (202) 671-4336. Thank you for supporting the health and safety of our neighbors.


  • As the District continues responding to and working to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Mayor Muriel Bowser is encouraging volunteers to join the DC Medical Reserve Corps (DC MRC). The DC MRC is housed in the DC Department of Health (DC Health) and supports public health and medical emergency preparedness, response, and recovery by recruiting, training, and deploying medical and non-medical volunteers to assist with planned events and emergencies. Volunteers can complete the online registration here.

Supplemental Resource Guide

  • This comprehensive Guide provides the most updated information on modified operations for social/public benefits and receiving EBT cards; healthcare services including coronavirus (COVID-19) testing; health insurance enrollement; phone and internet service; rental and utility assistance; food resources; mental health support; domestic violence support; unemployment and financial support; recreation activities and resources for kids; seniors (residents 60+ years of age); childcare; and, transportation.

Mobile Cellular Service, Auto and Home Insurance Providers' Modified Operations

  • This is the most updated information on modified operations for auto and home insurance, and mobile cellular services available from various companies. Please be aware that this guidance is based on the best information currently available and will be updated as needed. If you have additional questions, please contact your service provider.


The District has established rental assistance programs including the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) to help residents with paying their rent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Additional information about these rental assistance programs follows below. 

For additional information on rent assistance and housing resources, visit coronavirus.dc.gov.  

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

  • ERAP, administered by the DC Department of Human Services (DHS), helps District residents earning less than 40% of the Area Median Income (AMI) who are facing housing emergencies, by providing funding for overdue rent including late fees and court costs if a qualified household is facing eviction. The program also supports security deposits and first month's rent for residents moving into new apartments. The amount paid on behalf of eligible households depends on a household's income and available resources, and is subject to certain limitations. District residents earning above the 40% AMI are connected to a local nonprofit to be evaluated for the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP)

To learn more about the program, visit the Emergency Rental Assistance Program information page.

COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program

  • The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) recently launched the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, a $6.2 million program for low-income renters that can provide up to three months of rent arrears since April 2020. 

To learn more about the program, visit the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program information page.



  • DHS COVID-19 information and guidance for homeless service providers is available here.