Durham County public aid, government benefits and social services.

Assisting children, vulnerable low income families and the less fortunate in Durham County, the Social Services Department administers a number of public and government assistance programs. While short term financial aid may be offered in some cases, a focus is on enhancing economic stability as well as individual responsibility.

The North Carolina Work First program, or TANF, is available. This provides temporary financial assistance or cash grants to families while they enroll into job training or are seeking employment. Case managers will also put clients in touch with resources that will help them find employment as quickly as possible.

Work First Emergency Assistance is for families with children. It can be used to pay for final notices or disconnected utilities, past due rent to avoid eviction, and other basic needs. It is an option when the applicant is out of options through no fault of their own and they are faced with a crisis that they did not create.

The Durham HPP - Homelessness Prevention Program is a County wide program designed to reduce homeless. It can help by offering funds for paying rent, a security deposit, or other housing support. DSS can also help with eviction prevention.

Opening Doors is another housing resource. It was designed to help prevent qualified families or individuals from becoming homeless. Among other things, case managers work with homeless families to help them obtain space in a local shelter. The focus is on parents with minor children.

Medical needs and bills can be address by a few different public health and government insurance type programs. Apply for Medicaid at the Durham Social Services Department. This provides assistance to eligible low-income residents for prescription medications and other medical bills. There are also special programs for children/families as well as seniors or the disabled.

There are a few different components of Medicaid, however the objective is to pay medical bills for qualified families. The different types include NC Health Choice, Adult Medicaid, Family Planning Waiver, and Children's Medicaid. Another option is Direct Medical Funds, which can help clients with paying for the costs of prescriptions and equipment.




Eyeglasses and exams may be offered by the Eye Care program. It will offer qualified low income or uninsured residents access to medications, tests, glasses, contact lenses, and similar needs. It is offered by the state of North Carolina.

SNAP Food Stamps provides short-term assistance, vouchers, and EBT debit cards for low-income households in Durham County. Among other things, it can improve their nutrition, health and well being. It will increase the nutrition among low-income households.

This is a federal government created food assistance program that helps low-income and working poor families. It operates as a public entitlement program, so all eligible individuals and very low income households can receive assistance.

Utility bill assistance from the Durham County Department of Social Services comes in different forms, even including government help for water bills. The main components are below.

  • Crisis Intervention or Emergency Services provides grants to eligible low-income households experiencing a cooling or heating emergency in their homes or apartments.
  • Emergency Energy Funds (EEF) can help with overdue electric, natural gas, and heating bills. In addition, public aid can be used to buy kerosene for the aged or disabled in Durham County.
  • Regular Energy Bill Assistance is a one time cash payment that is available in the November timeframe. This is also known as LIEAP and is focused on heating bills during the winter.
  • Water Hardship Program is fairly unique to Durham County. It is used to help residents pay for past due water bills if they are faced with a shut off or eviction due to this.





Vouchers or Child Care Subsidies are available. The government provides services, assistance and subsidies for low-income families to pay for childcare. It is for parents that are working or in job training. The county will also provide support to childcare providers.

This was known as Formerly DACCA. Based upon the applicant's income, the parent will have to pay a percentage of the cost for day care facilities. There are age and other restrictions in place, as well as a waiting list. Apply at 1201 S. Briggs Avenue, Suite 100, Durham, NC 27703.

Adult Services is available in the form of an array of financial assistance or resources so that developmentally disabled adults or senior citizens can remain in their homes as long as possible. Or this program may help them reside safely in an appropriate facility in North Carolina.

Burial Assistance is coordinated by Social Services as well. It is a county required program that pays for either opening or closing of a grave for indigent families. There may also be public funds available for cremation expenses.

The Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS) is located at 200 E Main Street, Durham, North Carolina 27701. For more information on services, dial 919-560-0300.



By Jon McNamara

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