How to Get Emergency Housing or Rental Assistance Fast

When your finances take a major hit, it’s devastating. Getting laid off or sick puts you in a desperate situation. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, you’ve got next month’s rent or mortgage payment to sort out. Getting kicked out of your place certainly isn’t going to help your situation. But that can become a real possibility if you can’t come up with the money. With the threat of homelessness looming, you need a quick answer to one crucial question: “How can I get emergency housing assistance or rental assistance?” 

So, what help is available if you can’t afford to pay your rent or mortgage? There are government assistance programs, charities, and other organizations ready to step in and assist. Even if your housing dilemma was caused by a massive rent hike, you might still be eligible for housing help. 

Emergency Housing or Rental Assistance: The Stats

If you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, unfortunately, you’re not alone. Studies show that there are over 550,000 people in the U.S. without a proper roof over their heads. Because of this problem, the Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has the goal of ending homelessness. So, many programs have been set up to help folks like you who’re in a housing crisis.

This article aims to point you in the right direction to help you keep a roof over your head. We’ll show you how to get emergency housing or rental assistance. You’ll also find out about other resources that can help if you’ve lost your job or gotten sick. 

How to Get Emergency Housing Assistance or Rental Assistance

Being unable to pay rent because of a disability, sickness, or job loss can feel like getting kicked when you’re already down. What options do you have to avoid becoming homeless? Read on to find out. 

State housing and rental assistance resources

Many local governments have resources to help folks going through a hard time. Rental assistance is just one type of help available. You could get a one-time grant to avoid eviction. Or, you might be able to receive ongoing funds. Although these are short-term programs, it could be just what you need to prevent being kicked out of your home.

The best way to find what help is available near you, call 2-1-1 or visit United Way.

Privately-owned subsidized housing

HUD runs many rental assistance programs to help struggling tenants. One type of rental assistance is privately-owned subsidized housing. What does that mean? These are apartments—privately-owned—that landlords can offer to low-income tenants at reduced rental rates. 

There are income limits you need to know about to qualify for this type of rented accommodation. These are:

  • Low income — Household earnings that are less than 80% of the average income in your area.
  • Very low income — Earnings that are less than 50% of average earnings. 
  • Extremely low income — Your family’s combined income is lower than 30% of what people are earning on average. 

These income limits are used to calculate any type of government-funded housing assistance. Visit the HUD resources website to locate privately-owned housing that you can rent for a reduced rate.

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Another lifeline for families or folks who are at risk of homelessness is HUD Section 8 assistance. This type of help for hard-up tenants is in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers. What exactly is Section 8?

If you’ve lost your job, are getting disability benefits, or on a low-income, this program can help you find affordable accommodation. You get a voucher, and you can look for any type of place to rent. You pay part of the rent—usually around 30%—and the voucher makes up the rest. 

Related reading: HUD vs. Section 8: Which is Better?

How can you apply for the Housing Choice Voucher program? Visit the HUD website for more information 

Other Ways to Get Emergency Help Paying Rent

There are other places you turn to for help with paying your rent or mortgage in a pinch. These options can help you give you more financial security, keep a roof over your head, and look after your family. Read on to find out more.

Speak to a counseling agency

Because your situation is unique, getting sound advice from housing experts is crucial. For example, losing your job will impact your finances. But people who are renting and people paying a mortgage have different needs. Or, if you’re facing uncertainty because of a disability or illness, you’ll have several other things to sort out fast. 

You can get help from a HUD-approved counseling agency. Trained counselors give advice on avoiding foreclosure, renting on low-income, or finding suitable accommodation if you’ve lost your home.

Visit this government website for a counseling agency near you.

File for unemployment immediately

If you risk losing your home because of getting laid off, file for unemployment benefits immediately. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for other benefits. Getting welfare cash can help you make ends meet and keep your home until you find a new job. 

Check out some resources at the government’s benefits website. Here you can also learn about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that may help resolve your housing crisis.

Claim for disability benefits

If you can’t work because you’re sick or disabled, then apply for benefits ASAP. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can take a long time to process. Although receiving these benefits doesn’t include rental assistance, they can help you out financially. 

You will still have to claim for subsidized housing under the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) or look at public housing options. Receiving SSDI benefits also makes it easier to qualify for other state aid, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

Charities that help with paying for rent

You may be able to get emergency housing assistance or rental assistance from charities. Sometimes, getting quick help from non-profit organizations can mean the difference between keeping your home or losing it. Here are a few helpful resources that you can try: 

  • Red Cross Assistance — They can help you get back on your feet after a crisis. The Red Cross also provides rent assistance for needy families. Get more info here.
  • Salvation Army — This well-known charity can provide one-time help to pay rent. The assistance could be as much to cover a month’s rent—maybe just enough for you to avoid eviction. Click here to find a place near you.
  • Faith-Based Charities — Folks of any faith can get help from some charities. If you’re having trouble paying next month’s rent, find out more information here.

Food pantries

Although they don’t help with rent assistance, food pantries can help stretch out your monthly income or savings. Instead of paying for groceries, you can visit the food pantry and put the grocery budget toward the rent. Find a food bank near you by visiting this website.

How to Get Emergency Housing and Rental Assistance: The Bottom Line

Becoming homeless doesn’t have to be an option. If you’re in a financial crisis due to a hike in your rent, losing your job, or going on disability, there’s help available. You can get government housing assistance to help pay the rent. Or, you can get fast assistance from many charities in your area.