Homeless Assistance: A List of Emergency Resources

Getting kicked out of your home is an awful experience. Let’s face it, you probably never thought you’d be homeless and needing emergency assistance. You’re shoved into a new situation where nothing feels safe and secure. You’re worried about finding shelter and enough food to eat and water to drink. The number one priority? Staying safe, warm, and adequately fed.

Unfortunately, all the signs of ending up on the street were probably there—trouble paying the rent or mortgage, the dreaded “final reminder” on bills, going through a messy divorce, or getting fired. The reality is that you need to find a safe place to stay—and you need it fast. 

In this article, we’ll help you learn where to find emergency homeless assistance if you need quick help. This information will help you if you’ve just been made homeless or if the writing is on the wall.

Emergency Needs When You’re Homeless

Even though there are fewer people who are homeless than ten years ago, that doesn’t help your situation now in 2020. According to the most recent stats on homelessness in the
US, in 2019, there were 567,715 people living on the street, between temporary shelters, or needing emergency accommodation. 

If you’re facing eviction and you’ve got nowhere to go, or if you’ve spent your first few nights sleeping rough, what are your top needs? It’s essential to act fast to fix the situation. This usually involves any of the following: 

  • Obtaining emergency accommodation to get off the streets
  • Finding assistance programs that help mediate between landlords and tenants
  • Knowing where to get low-cost medical care 
  • Figuring out if you’re entitled to benefits or emergency assistance 

Top Resources: Where to Find Emergency Homeless Assistance

Let’s look in more detail at where you can turn to for help in a housing crisis.

Call 2-1-1 for emergency homeless assistance

So, you know to call 9-1-1 in an emergency—in a housing emergency or cash crisis, call 2-1-1. This helpline center gives advice on a whole range of problems, including housing assistance. Whether you’ve just been evicted or you need help to stay in your home, they’ll put you in touch with an organization that can support you. 

Just call 211 from your phone or enter your ZIP code at this website to find your nearest center

Continuum of Care (CoC) program

Don’t wait until eviction—act as soon as you think you’re at risk of losing your house. See if you can qualify for the Continuum of Care program. Also, if you’re already homeless, you can get emergency homeless assistance when you contact CoC. 

The CoC program is designed to provide permanent or transitional housing to homeless individuals and their families. Getting help as soon as possible can remove the worry of not knowing where you’ll spend the first few nights after losing your home.

You can use this benefits checker to see if you’re eligible for emergency housing assistance.

Rental assistance

Getting rental assistance may help you avoid being kicked out of your apartment. If you’re on a low income or just scraping by, state assistance can help pay your rent. As long as you qualify, you will get Housing Choice Vouchers to cover the part of the rent you can’t afford. You may also be able to find privately-owned subsidized housing. All of these rental assistance programs are available to low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. 

Call 800-569-4287 or visit the Government’s benefits website for more information. 

Case management

As a long-term solution to your homelessness dilemma, it’s worthwhile finding a case management program. Most states provide assistance to get you back on your feet financially and find an affordable place to live. Trained counselors work to uncover the underlying reasons why you became—or nearly became—homeless. They can assist you with budgeting, learning essential life skills, or getting a better-paying job. Many homeless people have been quickly rehoused via case management support and, thanks to the efforts of the program, never became homeless again. 

Bridge housing 

If you find yourself living on the street or stuck in an emergency shelter, BRIDGE housing could be the solution to getting a permanent place to live. Most BRIDGE properties allow you to stay there for several months. There may be a small co-pay depending on your earnings. While residing in the accommodation, you can also access services to help you find somewhere permanent to rent.

Emergency homeless assistance for veterans 

If you’ve served in the military and have become homeless, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages housing assistance programs for veterans (Find out more about the HUD-VASH program and its eligibility requirements). Many ex-service members face unique challenges in finding work, accessing benefits, and getting suitable housing. If you can’t afford rent, you may get Housing Choice Vouchers. Also, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can manage your case to help you get rehoused as soon as possible.

Related reading: List of National Veterans Resources.

Food pantries

Being homeless usually comes with many other problems, and one of them is food. Local food pantries can be a godsend to help you get nutritious food. Even if you’re struggling to pay rent, making use of food banks lets you stretch your income a bit further so you can put that extra money toward paying your utilities and rent or mortgage. Food pantries stock an ample range of food, including fresh fruit and veg, canned goods, and dry foodstuffs—pasta, cereals, and dried beans and peas. You’ll also find baby formula, bread, and other food essentials. 

Further reading: How to live if you don’t have enough money to survive.

Medical care

Finding proper medical care is yet another problem you’ll likely face if you’re in a temporary housing situation. If you can’t afford rent, likely, you can’t afford the high cost of medical insurance and treatment. The good news is that your health doesn’t have to suffer if you’re struggling with obtaining suitable housing. 

There are several low-cost medical facilities for low-income and no-income families. Some emergency medical resources include Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC) clinics. Many states also have Health Care for the Homeless programs and clinics. These programs are for families in transition housing, at risk of being homeless, and people living on the street. 

Other resources for emergency homeless assistance

There are many other charitable organizations where you can find help, information, and support in a housing crisis. Here is a list of some of them:

  • National Coalition for Homeless — An organization dedicated to ending homelessness. They have a list of additional resources if you’re facing getting put out on the street. 
  • Volunteers of America VOA helps people in crisis find affordable housing, get support with substance abuse, and they assist venerable teenagers. 
  • Help USA — This organization builds affordable housing and provides emergency shelter. Help USA supports victims of domestic violence, homeless veterans, people with disabilities, and single homeless adults. 

Emergency Homeless Assistance: A Takeaway

Make sure that a temporary homeless crisis doesn’t become a long-term issue. There are many government and nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to helping people like you find solutions to your problems with housing. If you’ve faced homelessness before, what helped you get back on your feet? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.