The economy of the last several years has caused more people than every before to struggle to find adequate housing.
If you are in this situation, here are some government housing assistance programs that may be able to help.
Foreclosure rates have hit an all time high in the U.S., and many people are out of work or homeless. If you need help with your housing, some of the options available to you include Section 8 housing, or rental assistance, among others.
Becoming familiar with what kind of help is available and what the requirements are for the various programs is a good place to start.
Help is available, but most programs have income limits and various other requirements. Knowing where to go and what steps you need to follow when you apply is important. The following resources will help you get started.
Start Researching Government Housing Assistance ASAP
Applying for government housing assistance can be a frustrating and lengthy process.
If you believe that you will be experiencing difficulties with your housing costs in the relatively near future, you should get started seeking assistance as soon as possible.
This will increase the likelihood that you have something in place when you really needed it.
Check the HUD Website
Most parts of the U.S. have public housing and subsidized housing available through the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The HUD website contains a wealth of information on housing and rental assistance. There are also charts showing income requirements and downloadable applications.
Make an Appointment With a HUD-Approved Housing Counselor
If you are about to lose your home to foreclosure and have nowhere to go, or are struggling to keep a roof over your head for any other reason, you can make an appointment to go over your situation with a HUD-approved counselor.
There is no fee for this meeting.
A HUD counselor can review your financial situation, refer you to appropriate agencies and services, and in some cases can even contact your lender on your behalf.
If you are in danger of foreclosure you can make an appointment by calling 1-888-995-HOPE.
Check Your State Website
Even if you qualify for federal government housing or Section 8 housing through HUD, in many parts of the country the waiting list to get into these rentals can be two years or longer. Chances are you need help much sooner than that.
Some states, i.e. Texas, have a website set up for state assistance, an most states will at least have a housing and development division.
If you can’t find your state’s website, open your phone book to the blue pages (where government offices are listed) and start calling.
Call Your County and City Officials
Most counties and many cities have emergency funds available for citizens who find themselves in extreme circumstances and can’t qualify for federal assistance, or can qualify but are faced with a long wait.
Often, county assistance comes in the form of a cash allotment. Although this is not easy to get, it is still worth asking for it when other avenues fail.
- New York City, has its own affordable housing programs through the New York City Housing Development Corporation.
- Yolo County in Southern California has a Short Term Emergency Aid Committee set up to address these kinds of concerns.
- The Tenant Resource Center in Madison, Wisconsin is a locally run volunteer program to help people find affordable housing.
Because these programs are organized locally, the only way to find them is to start searching the web and making some local calls.
Contact the United Way
The United Way is a national organization that raises money locally to provide charitable programs for people in need.
You can call 211 from any Verizon phone and talk with a volunteer who will look for United Way programs in your specific locale.
You can also search their database and get information at the United Way website.
Simply type in your zip code, state, or city, and a list of community resource call centers will appear. Call the number and explain your situation for a referral to local charitable organizations
Apply for a Habitat for Humanity House
Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates homes for people in need of affordable housing. You can apply for help by calling their help line at 800-422-4828 or searching for the program nearest you at Habitat for Humanity website.
Call Your Church
If you are a member of an organized religion or local church, call your pastor, rectory, or minister and explain your situation.
Sometimes the help you need is only a phone call away. Many churches are committed to community activism to alleviate poverty and hardship.
However, even if your church has no organized program to help with the local housing problem, it never hurts to ask directly for what you need.
Check With Your Local Organizations
Your local Homeless Center, YWCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul Society, or Goodwill Industries all provide emergency housing for people in trouble.
While the help they offer is usually temporary in nature (that is, they probably won’t set you up with an affordable apartment immediately), they have years of experience in dealing with homelessness and poverty, and will almost certainly at least be able to make a referral or hook you up with someone who can set you on a productive path.
Call your Congressperson
Homelessness is at a record high in the United States, and the foreclosure crisis is making it worse by the day.
Find out who your Congressional representative is, and if all else fails, call that person’s office and keep calling that office until you get some assistance.
While this may seem like and extreme measure, it really isn’t. Congresspersons are used to being asked directly for help by their constituents, and often the only way change happens is when a Congressperson gets a flood of calls about a problem back home and demands change in Washington.
Find your local congressperson at the Congress.org directory.
Time to Get Started
Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to address your housing problems. You should look for government housing assistance as soon as you anticipate a problem.
The problem of affordable housing is at a crisis level in the U.S. right now, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to just give up before you even start; quite the opposite.
The organizations discussed here want to help people who are struggling, you just have to find the one that fits your situation the best.
Then, once you locate that help and find yourself an affordable place to live, consider volunteering a bit of your time or money to help others do the same.