Regardless of how successful a society may be, there will always be those without the means to provide shelter for themselves and their families. Public assistance recipients wind up on welfare rolls for myriad reasons---from Hurricane Katrina survivors to families suffering from economic downturns. Shelter assistance remains a vital concern for compassionate people and agencies throughout the country. If you're seeking a cheap apartment, don't despair. Keep your eye on the future and it won't be long before you can start rebuilding your life in your own home.
Consider a roommate. You may be able to hook up with another public assistance recipient to share the cost of an apartment if you post a notice at your local community assistance or welfare office. Having a roommate is a great way to cut back on everything from monthly rental fees to utilities since there are multiple advantages to "strength in numbers," not the least of which is having company so you no longer feel as though you're going through life disadvantaged and alone.
Community nonprofits tend to be linked, so while social service resources may not specifically deal with shelter, they are connected to agencies that can point you in the right direction. Some may refer you to a short-term programs that convert churches and community centers into dormitories by night when weather is inclement while others offer chits for local motels until permanent arrangements can be made. While you're searching, keep up with classified ads for apartments listed on Internet sites and in daily newspapers.
Consult with local realtors. Realty firms can often be counted on to have their pulse on a community's housing landscape and many professional realtors belong to social service agencies and volunteer organizations that help people get on their feet after losing their homes. Additionally, realtors may be willing to negotiate on behalf of a person or family on public assistance with a landlord carrying vacant apartments on their books for long periods of time. If there's an overabundance of rental units in your area, don't be shy about asking a realtor if they can help.
Trade your skills for partial rental. Do you sew, do carpentry, work landscaping magic or can you tackle minor repair jobs that wind up costing landlords a fortune when they seek skilled contractors? Your expertise might be traded for partial or free rental if you offer yourself as a 24/7 on-call source.
Contact Housing and Urban Development, the nation's governmental arm established to find decent, safe rental housing for low-income families, including the elderly and people with disabilities. There's a long wait list ---anywhere from five to eight years, depending upon which statistic you believe --- but all it takes is the time you'll spend signing up with one of the agency's 3,300 housing authorities to get the ball rolling. Download an application (see HUD web link below) or call the Public Housing Authority's Customer Service Center at 1-800-955-2232 for more details.
Contemplate joining the military. Launch a career and get free housing for yourself and help with housing for your family. You'll learn a skill while you serve the nation and get back on your feet.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.