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Emergency Assistance

Emergency Assistance is a program which provides cash assistance in certain emergency situations to families with children. This program is available only once every 24 months (eligible in the 25th month). There is no lifetime limit. Each local jurisdiction determines the type of emergencies covered and the amount of assistance given. You may apply by visiting your local District Office.

Check eligibility, service and access. While you can apply for most benefits online, all "Emergency Assistance" applications require a face-to-face interview.

Covered Emergencies

Emergencies due to unforeseen circumstances are limited to prevention of homelessness, such as:

  • Eviction or Foreclosure
  • Utility Turn-Off

Benefit Payments

All payments are made directly to vendors; in most cases checks are mailed, if necessary with prearrangement. A customer may pick up the check during designated times at the Towson Office only.

Eligibility Determination

Emergency Assistance funds are available to residents of Baltimore County. Customers must apply for Energy Assistance first. Application must be made for this program, even if the applicant is a current recipient of assistance. For new applicants, financial eligibility is determined by measuring the available resources of the family against regular paid living expenses. The amount varies based upon the need.

  • The applicant and every other person included in the Emergency Assistance unit must be without resources to meet the emergency need.
  • Emergency Assistance staff reviews the family situation to determine who needs emergency help.
  • The family must have one or more children under 21 and living with them.
  • The family must present proof that they are behind on rent and have been or will be evicted.
  • The family must present the notice from the utility company that services have been or will be cut off.
  • The family must have documentation of the emergency situation, related bills or expenses and a plan to meet future expenses (household income).


  • All income
  • Assets, which are available at time of application

Each District office of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services has staff who will take the application, assess the individual's situation for possible solutions and make appropriate referrals to community resources.

What to Bring

  1. Photo identification (driver's license, Maryland ID, or employment ID)
  2. Proof of address (from apartment or house lease; electric, gas, water or phone bill; rent book; rent receipt or mortgage statement)
  3. Proof of income for the past two months (pay stubs that show your income or most recent benefit letter for government checks including SSI, SSDI, VA, Social Security, or any others)
  4. Proof of emergency-Eviction or utility cut-off notice
  5. Proof of other cash or non-cash resources (bring most recent savings and checking account statements)
  6. Social Security Cards: Everyone who receives services must have a Social Security number. It is best to bring a card for everyone for whom you are seeking benefits (you, your children, and so on)
  7. Proof of household expenses. Bring as many of the following as you can: most recent gas or electric bill; most recent fuel, oil or propane bill that shows the company's name, address, and telephone number; receipt or written statement of child care costs; real estate tax bill; recent doctor or hospital bill

Additional Resources 

People in need of emergency assistance often need additional help in paying their total bill. Here are some other area resources in addition to the Department of Social Services. Please note these groups serve people in specific ZIP Code areas.

The Assistance Center of Towson Churches offers an ecumenical program of providing help to the poor and needy families in the Towson area.

Catonsville Food Ministry provides emergency financial assistance and food in the Catonsville area.

Community Assistance Network provides emergency services, employment assistance, food, shelter, weatherization and more.

Community Crisis Center provides emergency food items, personal hygiene products, school supplies, career clothing, financial literacy and monthly grants for eviction prevention and utility assistance for residents of Reisterstown, Owings Mills, and Glyndon.

Hereford Food Bank provides help with utilities and eviction prevention for residents of Northern Baltimore County (21120, 21111, 21152, 21053, 21155).

Jewish Community Services provides help with emergency food, utilities, eviction prevention for residents of the central area.

Southwest Emergency Services helps residents in the 21227 ZIP Code with food, utilities and eviction prevention.

United Churches Assistance Network provides assistance with food and clothing as well as eviction prevention and help with utilities for the residents of Northern Baltimore County.


Revised May 11, 2016        

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