Emergency shelter, housing assistance, and many other basic human/social services are drastically underfunded and are unable to meet the needs of our communities. Below we offer a few tips and resources that may provide you some direction, but we also know that losing our homes is very difficult.
If you are not homeless yet:
You possibly can avoid becoming homeless by learning about and accessing prevention or emergency assistance programs in your area. Often these programs provide help paying rent, utilities, or bills; although the availability of resources can be limited.
If you are homeless now:
Emergency assistance programs may help with health care, food, and temporary, transitional, or permanent housing. Many communities use a hotline or a single organization for welcoming new clients – this is often called Coordinated Entry. Look here for local resources.
If you live in a rural area:
Prevention and/or emergency assistance programs may be operated by community action agencies (see the National Community Action Partnership web site).
If you are a teenager and are thinking about running away from home, or if you are already living on the streets, call the National Runaway Switchboard. The Switchboard is a toll free, confidential hotline. Dial 1-800-621-4000 or visit the Switchboard’s website.
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Places to Look for Help
This directory does not list every homeless and housing program in the country — unfortunately, there is no such list. If you are in a rural area, you may be more likely to find help from a community action agency. The National Community Action Partnership provides a partial list of community action agencies across the country.
It may also be helpful to simply contact the nearest agency you can find and ask them directly if there are any service providers in the area that are close to you.
Contact your local HUD office.
If you are homeless and have health care needs, there may be a Health Care for the Homeless program near you that can help. Health Care for the Homeless programs also provide referrals for other services such as housing, so it may be useful to contact the program nearest you to see what services are available.
If You Don’t Find A Listing Near You
If none of these directories contain information about agencies near you, please send us an email at email@example.com. with the name of your city and state, and any information you think may be useful (whether you have children, when you might become homeless, etc.). Please understand that we are a very small office, and that the most we may be able to do is to refer you to an organization or a person near you. But we will do our very best to find a source of assistance in your area.
If You May Become Homeless in a Few Weeks
If you may become homeless in a few weeks, one of the first things to do is to see if there are any prevention or assistance programs near you. Read the above section. The Directory page can help you find local programs.
In addition, Russell Sjoblom, who was homeless with his family, has compiled a list of suggestions for people who are in danger of becoming homeless. Russell offers advice on money, food, transportation, shelter, storage, help paying for medications, social security and disability. Read Russell’s suggestions and experience.
If You May Become Homeless in a Few Days
If you only have a few days before you may become homeless, it is helpful to start making plans. The goal should be either to avoid going to an emergency shelter, or, if that can’t be avoided, to make your stay there as short as possible. Depending on how much time you have before you might become homeless, try one or all of the following:
Some agencies provide homeless prevention assistance. These programs may have waiting lists, require an appointment/interview, or have certain restrictions on who they serve. For these reasons, the sooner you can find a program that may be able help you, the better. If you do not know of any programs near you, the Directory may help you find one.
Waiting lists for public and Section 8 housing vary across the country, but in many cases, the waiting list for public housing is shorter than for Section 8 housing. You can find out how to apply by looking for the number of your local public housing authority in the government section of the phone book.
In some communities, transitional housing is an option for people who are homeless. Transitional housing programs vary greatly across the country as far as who they serve and what their requirements are. You will have to fill out an application and make an appointment for an interview. Follow through with as many of these programs as possible.
If your driver’s license has expired, or been taken for a traffic ticket, etc., reapply or get your State ID processed. If you only have a printout of your Social Security Card, get a new card to replace it as soon as possible. Many shelters and employers have strict ID requirements, and it will make things easier if you have these things ready or in process. Set up a P.O. Box for delivery and mail if that is possible.
If you have more than two bags for yourself, or one for each child, try to find someone you know who can and will hold your things for you. Almost every shelter has limits on the amount of baggage people can carry with them because they don’t have enough space.
Pack the things you can take with you. Try to arrange a ride or some sort of transportation for the day you’ll have to leave. If there is anyone who can lend you some money, now would be the time to borrow it. Try to keep at least $20-$50 with you in a safe place just for emergencies. Make sure your ID is in a safe and accessible place — you will want to take it with you. Some shelters charge money, or have strict ID requirements.
These recommendations are just suggestions so that you will have the most resources at your disposal when you need them.