Department of Human Services

DHS Block


DC Agency Top Menu

-A +A
Bookmark and Share

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.  If you are Hearing Impaired, you may call TTY/TDD 711. 



  • Frequently Asked Questions: Cash, Food & Medical Assistance Public Benefits (Spanish Amharic; as of January 7, 2021. FAQ)
    To mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), programs across the District are modifying operations. This document shares the most updated information on cash, food, and medical assistance public benefits available in the District. Please be aware that this guidance is based on the best information currently available and will be updated as needed.

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

Recertifications, Mid-Certifications, Interviews for Public Benefits

  • As of March 2021, the SNAP and TANF recertification process is now required.  
    • When you are notified it is time to recertify, don’t wait.  Complete the recertification application and submit documents verifying your income, expenses, and any changes as soon as possible. Learn more about ways to complete your recertification. 
    • DHS will mail a notice a month in advance to customers required to complete the recertification process. Reminder notices and robocalls will also be sent. Customers with the District First app can turn on notifications to receive a reminder on their phones. 
    • Please ensure your mailing address and phone number are updated with DHS. Information for updating contact information is available below.  
  • SNAP Mid-Certification and Interim Contact requirements for ongoing households are waived through June 2021.  DHS will mail a notice to households when it is time to complete these requirements. Customers with the District First app can turn on notifications to receive a reminder on their phones. 
  • All interviews are waived through June 2021.  
  • All customers are required to report changes as outlined in their approval letters. 

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:     

  • Submitting information online through the DC Benefits Portal or the District First mobile app   
  • Mailing documents to a DHS Service Center 
  • Dropping off information at a DHS Service Center 
  • ESA Public Benefits Call Center at (202) 727-5355, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:45 pm 

New Applications for Public Benefits 

District residents can apply for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, Alliance, or other public benefits provided by DHS through one of the following methods:  

  • District First mobile app for Android or iPhone 
  • Online application 
  • Download, complete, sign, and mail the application to: 
  • Pick-up/drop-off an application at one of our open DHS Service Centers. 
  • Request an application be mailed to you by calling the DHS Public Benefits Call Center at (202) 727-5355, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:45 pm 
  • When applying, please be sure to double-check that your mailing address and telephone number are accurate. DHS may need to contact you to complete the eligibility process.  

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)

P-EBT benefits were issued for the spring of the 2019-2020 school year and the fall of the 2020-2021 school year (through September 2020). Details on P-EBT benefits for October 2020 – June 2021 are forthcoming. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the  P-EBT Information Page.  

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Updates

Temporary SNAP Benefit Increase
Congress has temporarily increased SNAP benefits from January 2021 through September 2021. The amount of the temporary increase varies based on each customer’s circumstances and will be reflected in the SNAP participant's monthly SNAP benefit allotment. SNAP customers do not need to take any action.

SNAP Emergency Allotments

  • The District continues to issue Emergency Allotments to SNAP customers who are not certified for the maximum monthly SNAP benefit amount for their household size.  Emergency Allotments are expected to continue for each month that a Federal and District Public Health Emergency designation due to the COVID-19 pandemic remain active. SNAP customers do not need to take any action. 

  • The District is working to implement changes to SNAP Emergency Allotments announced by the Federal government on April 1, 2021. These changes will ensure all SNAP households receive a minimum of $95 in monthly Emergency Allotments.  

SNAP College Student Exemptions

  • Congress has temporarily expanded SNAP to the following two populations, if otherwise eligible for SNAP, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency:  
    • College students determined eligible to participate in state or federal work-study by the institution of higher education You do not have to actually participate in the work-study to be eligible for this exemption.   
      • If you meet this exemption, you will need to provide DHS with a copy of the Financial Aid Award letter detailing your work-study award or other official documentation from your school. 
    • College students with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year. 
      • If you meet this exemption, you will need to provide DHS with a copy of your Financial Aid Award letter or your Student Aid Report (SAR) that shows you have an EFC of 0.  A letter from your school or the U.S. Department of Education indicating that you have an EFC of 0 is also acceptable. 
  • Students who reside in the District and meet one of the two criteria outlined above may receive SNAP if they meet all other financial and non-financial SNAP eligibility criteria. These temporary exemptions can be provided until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted. 

SNAP Online Purchasing

  • District residents participating in 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/Capital Access EBT Card

  • All DHS 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 DHS case. Customers may learn more about the mailing of EBT cards here
  • District residents with children enrolled in schools that normally provide free or reduced-priced meals may receive an unsolicited Capital Access EBT Card in the mail as part of the P-EBT program. A letter explaining P-EBT will arrive shortly before or after receipt of the EBT card.  To learn more about P-EBT, please visit the P-EBT Information Page

Residents with questions about ESA’s public benefits programs may contact the ESA Public Benefits Call Center at (202) 727-5355, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:45 pm.  If you are Hearing Impaired, you may call TTY/TDD 711. 


  • 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), STAY DC and the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) to help residents with paying their rent and other household expenses 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.

STAY DC (Stronger Together By Assisting You)

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced the launch of STAY DC, a financial assistance program for D.C. renters and housing providers who are looking for support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income. Apply today to receive money you can use to help you pay for your rent, gas, water, and electricity. Learn more about STAY DC by visting stay.dc.gov.

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.