I'm About to be Homeless: What do I do? - Part 2
Step 3: Look For Help
Homelessness is a common problem, and there are many agencies and organizations that can help. You can find assistance from the federal government, local governments, community organizations, and private, national, and local organizations. These organizations can help you find places to stay if you are homeless, can direct you where to go when homeless, provide more information on local shelters, and in general, help with homeless survival tips.
The federal government has programs and services to aid those who find themselves homeless. These include:
- a housing program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs, aimed at helping veterans stave off homelessness. Veterans can find housing assistance if they find themselves at risk.
The Homeless Assistance Database
- a resource the government provides to help individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness locate local aid programs and assistance. Individuals are encouraged to use the database to locate aid. Use the database to find organizations that provide service to the homeless in your area.
Several national organizations work to provide different forms of assistance.
The National Coalition for the Homeless
works to organize volunteers to aid the effort of eliminating homelessness. The coalition’s website maintains several resources for individuals who are looking for assistance. Call them at (202) 462-4822
Volunteers of America
has worked for over 100 years in its effort to fight homelessness and provide assistance. The VOA operates out of local branches across the country. Their assistance includes paying rent for struggling families and providing housing, including transitional housing and emergency shelters. Call them at (703) 341-5000
The Salvation Army
has provided homelessness assistance for decades. If there is a Salvation Army near you, they may be able to provide you with overnight lodging, food, and permanent shelter. The Salvation Army has a long history of successfully helping people get off the street and into viable shelters.
The National Runaway Safeline
exists to help keep runaway teens out of danger, especially the danger posed by human sex trafficking. If you’re a teen runaway or if you know someone who is, there is assistance available. Call 1-800-786-2929
Common Issues for Homeless Individuals
If you find yourself homeless, you will need to know about and try to avoid some common problems.
If you do find yourself without a house or physical property, it will be difficult to keep clean. You can ease this issue by using homeless shelters when possible, showering or cleaning at the homes of friends and family, using public restrooms and showering facilities (such as those located at truck stops and public pools), or staying in a hotel or motel on occasion.
If you are currently employed or looking for regular work, regularly staying neat will be important. You will also want to consider using laundromat services to keep your clothes clean.
When you lose your home, the convenience of a kitchen becomes immediately evident. You will lose the ability to store perishable food items in a refrigerator and will have limited ability to cook food. You will find yourself relying more on ready-made meals that require no cooking, or on fast food or prepared foods.
For both yourself and your family, try to go for low-cost fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Many will keep for several days without the need for refrigeration and will offer a healthy alternative to regularly eating unhealthy prepared foods. Look into local food banks and soup kitchens that serve meals daily. Avoid relying on cheap fast food that will only compromise your health and cause you even more problems in the future.
Homeless people often end up in unsafe situations. Many homeless individuals find themselves on street corners, park benches and alleyways late at night. In many cases, homeless people find themselves the victims of crimes, committed by other homeless individuals or those who take advantage of the homeless. If you have children, it becomes more important to find ways to locate safe living arrangements.
Considering contacting Child Protective Services if you have children and your situation is particularly dire. CPS can put your kids into temporary housing with other families while you work on getting permanent residence again. If you have family or friends willing to take in your children while you struggle with homelessness, this is an even better option.
For yourself, using your car is more beneficial and safer than staying out on the street, while a homeless shelter is safer than the street as well. Stay in hotels or motels if you must and can afford to do so, and seek housing assistance from homeless coalitions and organizations.
If you are homeless and out of work, finding money may be difficult. Many homeless individuals turn to panhandling to some degree of success. If you intend to get yourself back on your feet, you will need to find more permanent work opportunities.
Even if you are homeless, continue to work with local organizations that will help you find a job. Go to public libraries to use computer resources. Stay updated on your resume, and regularly apply for jobs online and in person.
Some aid services may also provide homelessness help in the form of financial assistance. While this may not always include directly providing cash, it may be through aid in reducing your costs, such as paying for housing and providing food.
If you are looking for additional information on how to survive your coming or current battle with homelessness, contact your local government. Most cities and towns have more contact information and advice on which local organizations -- including churches and nonprofits -- have different assistance programs for the homeless.