Whether you know someone who is homeless, or you're dealing with this situation yourself, knowing where to go for help can make all the difference in finding shelter, food and health care services. Fortunately, several non-profit organizations and government programs offer resources to help.
Emergency and Transitional Housing
If you need housing for a limited time, TransitionalHousing.org has a list of more than 5,460 housing shelters. You can view the location and photos of each available shelter online. Some also offer drug and alcohol treatment support, while others are geared for women and children. The Salvation Army has locations across the country that offer emergency shelter and transitional living centers that include a safe place to sleep, food and work programs. Search the Volunteers of America website for affordable housing locations by city and state or zip code. HUD provides a page with local homeless assistance programs by state. A partial list of community action agencies in the United States is also available through the National Community Action Partnership
Resources for Veterans
Veterans can get help from the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. It works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide housing vouchers and case management support to help a veteran find a place to live while he gets back on his feet. To qualify, the veteran must meet income and health care eligibility requirements. Contact the HUD-VASH office near you.
Resources for Teens
The National Runaway Switchboard has a confidential hotline, e-mail and chat feature to help homeless teens find resources and help get them safely off the street. The website also offers a forum for teens who are not yet ready to take the next step to go back home.
Food and Healthcare
If you need food or healthcare, check for help at the HUD Exchange. You can search for a food pantry in your area at Foodpantries.org. You may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as the food stamp program. Use the USDA’s pre-screening tool to determine your eligibility status, or apply at any local SNAP office. To find healthcare services, visit the National Health Care for the Homeless Council website.
Obtaining financial assistance to find temporary housing on your own usually requires applying for disability to show why you’re unable to work or pay rent. Programs include Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. Another option is to apply for reduced rent housing, or Section 8, through the HUD. Once you meet gross income and family size requirements, the government pays some of the rental fee directly to apartment owners, and you are charged reduced rent for the balance each month. To apply, contact your local Public Housing Agency.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.