How To Get Emergency Housing Assistance If You’re Facing Homelessness

how to get emergency housing

How To Get Emergency Housing Assistance If You’re Facing Homelessness

In this community resource guide, you will learn how to get emergency housing if you and your family are needing a new place to live.

No matter if you are facing eviction, foreclosure, or you are currently homeless, there are nonprofits that offer housing programs that help with housing crises just like these.

Before getting into the programs that offer emergency housing and shelter, understand that resources can be limited and many programs have waitlists. Even if you were to contact one of these nonprofits and find out that there is a waitlist, sign up anyway. The 3, 6, 9, month-long wait that they tell you about will pass quickly. Again sign up now and if you still need the assistance once you work up the waitlist great. If you are self-sufficient, that’s even better.

The bottom line is if you are wondering “how to get emergency housing assistance near me”, continue reading because this resource guide will provide you with 5 ways to find housing assistance programs that you can search for if you are in need of a new place to stay.

What Is An Emergency Housing Program?

Emergency housing assistance is a type of program that provides people who are homeless or facing homelessness with a place to stay. This type of assistance can be especially helpful for low-income families who need a temporary place to stay until they can find more permanent housing.

Some of these emergency housing programs can lead to long-term housing assistance. One of these programs is called Rapid Rehousing, which will be covered later in this article.

Where Can You Find Emergency Housing Assistance Programs In Your City?

The main organizations that offer emergency housing programs are:

  • Shelters and…
  • Housing authorities in your city or county

Once you contact these organizations in your community they will either connect you to their own supportive housing programs or provide you with a list of available programs in your area.

5 Ways To Get Emergency Housing Assistance Programs

The 5 ways that you can get emergency housing assistance near you include:

  1. Visiting A Homeless Shelter
  2. Finding Shelters With Rapid Rehousing Programs
  3. Using Your Status As A Priority Population To Get Housing Fast
  4. Applying For Housing Programs In Less Populated Cities And Counties
  5. Visiting the Affordable Housing Online website

Here is more information about each strategy for finding emergency housing in your area.

1.) Visit A Homeless Shelter To Find Immediate Housing

The first way to get emergency housing assistance is to find a homeless shelter in your city.

If you were suddenly evicted from your apartment and need to find a place to stay quickly, a homeless shelter is your best option…that is assuming that you do not have family members to take you in.

The reason a homeless shelter is the most immediate option for emergency assistance is due to the lack of waitlists and red tape. It’s entirely possible that you can contact a homeless shelter right now and have a room ready for you within hours. In comparison quick assess to a place to stay is not always available when you apply for public housing or Section 8.

A homeless shelter can not only provide your family with a safe place to stay, but also homeless services like:

  • Food on a daily basis.
  • Clothing.
  • Case management to help you navigate community resources that can help you.
  • Connections to government assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP benefits, WIC, and more.
  • Potential connections to long-term housing programs.

To find a homeless shelter near you, you can visit the Homeless Shelters Directory website. This site has over 14,000+ shelters listed, therefore you will find one in your area.

Again, if you were suddenly asked to leave a family member’s house, you are escaping domestic violence, or any other situation that requires you to find housing within hours, contacting a local shelter should be your first priority. It may not be ideal, but you can find long-term housing options while you are at the shelter.

2.) Rapid Rehousing

This is a long-term housing program that homeless shelters can connect you to. Not every shelter has Rapid Rehousing. If you are needing housing fast, you may not have the luxury of being selective, however, if you do find a homeless shelter that offers Rapid Rehousing, try to get in at that shelter. One of the most helpful aspects of this program is the long-term housing assistance. Sometimes as much as 12 months of rent is paid.

Rapid rehousing provides homeless individuals with immediate and long-term housing assistance, which can include:

  • Up to 12 months of rental and financial assistance to help you get on your feet.
  • Help to pay the cost of moving expenses.
  • Assistance with the move-in deposit fee.
  • Rent and utility assistance for up to 6 months.
  • Case management to ensure you are able to remain self-sufficient.

Each homeless assistance program has its own set of components, so the type of support you get will vary from shelter to shelter.

Rapid Rehousing is not a permanent program, but it can provide you with assistance to help you become self-sufficient over time. If you find yourself needing housing immediately see if you can find a Rapid Rehousing program at a shelter near you.

3.) Use Your Status As A “Priority Population” Resident To Get Housing Faster Than Others

Whether you are applying for public housing or Section 8 many of these programs have waiting lists. One way to move up a long housing waitlist fast is to be part of a priority population.

Priority populations in housing are groups of people who are given higher priority for housing assistance than those in the general population.

There are many reasons why you may be considered a priority population, such as:

  • Being homeless
  • Fleeing domestic violence
  • Senior citizens get priority placement
  • Being a veteran
  • Having a disability
  • A diagnosis of HIV/AIDS
  • Being displaced by a hurricane or some other natural disaster
  • Simply being a local resident

If any of the above descriptions fit your situation, you could be considered a priority for housing placement, which would allow you to get emergency housing before others on the waitlist.

How to Get Low Income Housing Fast: One Tip To Get You Housing In Less 30 Days In this resource guide, you will learn how to get low income housing in the fastest amount of time possible. It's no secret that finding low income housing can be a challenge. In many areas, the waiting list for public housing is years long. However, there are a few ways to get around this. In this guide, we will give you one tip that can help you get low income housing benefits in under 30 days! So whether you are facing eviction or just need a more affordable place to live, follow this tip and you could be on your way to receiving the assistance you need. That ONE TIP Is...Apply For Housing In Less Populated Cities Many people on housing waitlists may not know this, but you can apply for public housing or Section 8 in any city, county, or state that you wish. If you live in Texas, you can apply for housing in Florida and vice versa. HUD actually allows you to apply for housing in another state, but again, not many people are aware of this "housing lifehack". The reason this information is important is that if you live in a large city as I do in Houston, your housing waitlist will be extremely long. Here in southeast Texas, the population is 6 million and the wait times for housing in Houston reflect that. Anyone applying for housing here may be on the waitlist for at least 3 years! If you want to get housing benefits fast...possibly in less than 30 days you need to apply for housing in less populated cities. These cities will likely have waitlists that are much shorter than those in major cities. Bastrop TX Waitlist vs Houston TX Waitlist (Personal Story) A few years ago a retired lady in her 60s was interested in applying for housing in Houston. I explain that she would likely wait for years for her name to come upon a housing waitlist. I then informed her of the option she had to apply for housing in any city or county in Texas as well as the rest of the U.S. While Houston, was her first preference, she grew up near the town of Bastrop, TX. This is a city of 9,653 residents and it is located about 30 miles east of Austin, TX. When we called the Bastrop Housing Authority, a lady at the housing office informed us that their public housing waitlist was currently open and she had a unit that she could place the client in as soon as she completed the housing application! While this was two years ago and housing waitlists do open and close on a regular basis, the fact remains that if you call housing authorities in cities with smaller populations, there is a better chance that you will get housing faster. The one thing that you should know about applying for housing in a jurisdiction outside of the one you currently live in is, local residents always get first priority on housing waitlists. That being said you will still likely get housing faster if you apply in cities with fewer people on the housing waiting list. How To Find Cities With Small Populations To Apply For Housing If you have cities in mind that you would not mind applying for housing in, then you can Google search those housing authorities and call them to learn about an open waitlist. Should you need help finding cities with smaller populations, you can use the table below. This is a table of 1000 cities in the U.S that are listed according to size. Once you find a city that you are interested in you can call the housing authority in that city to learn about low income housing options. Another way to get in touch with housing authorities is to call the PIH Customer service phone number at 800.955.2232. They can answer any questions you have about public housing or Section 8 waitlists in the U.S. You can also find listings of housing authorities in each state by visiting the Public Housing Agency webpage. Here you will find a dropdown and map that will provide you with a list of every housing authority of the state of your choosing. If you simply cannot move to another city, even if you were awarded housing the next section will provide you with a potential way to get housing fast in your current city. How To Get Low Income Housing Fast In Your Own City Residents at homeless shelters can potentially get housing fast because they often times are higher priorities for local housing programs. Homeless shelters have connections to housing programs like that of Rapid Rehousing. Programs like this help low income families to get placement in an apartment as well as housing assistance like: Up to 12 months of rent paid Move-in assistance Help to get free furniture Case management And more... Each homeless shelter in each state has its own long-term housing programs. One thing that remains the same with each, is that families who are in homeless shelters, working with case managers, and enrolled in shelter programs will always be first priority. What this means is you won't be able to visit a shelter for the sole purpose of moving up a low income housing program. You need to have a connection with someone at the shelter. 7 Places To Find Low Income Housing With No Waiting List You can find 7 additional ways to get low income housing in this article we wrote. It talks about public housing, Section 8 programs, and websites that you can use to find open housing waitlists in every state. Conclusion To get low income housing as fast as possible, you will need to open your search for housing up to cities outside of the one you are currently living in. This is especially true if the population is greater than 100,000 people. Cities that are this big will have longer waitlists. Use the table of cities according to the population to find cities that have 80,000 or fewer residents. These are good starting points if you want to get housing in less than 30 days. If you cannot move to another city due to work or family obligations, then your best bet is to consider working with a homeless shelter to get connected to a long-term housing program like Rapid Rehousing. Programs like this can place you in an apartment, pay for up to 12 months of rent, pay for moving costs, offer case management, and more. Similar Articles That May Interest You: How To Get Texas Housing Assistance In Less Than 30 Days 16 Affordable Housing Options In Houston Texas Where To Find Low-Income Tax Credit Apartments In Houston How To Apply For Houston Public Housing
Use the HUD website to find a housing authority in your state.

To find a housing authority in your city visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website to get a list of authorities in your state. You can also call them at 800.955.2232.

4.) Apply For Housing In A Less Populated City

The next way to get emergency housing fast is to apply for housing programs in other (less populated cities). This strategy would require you to potentially move far away from your current city. This isn’t for everyone, but if you have the ability to move continue reading to see how it works.

You may not know this, but you can apply for housing in any city, town, or state in the U.S. This is part of HUD’s rules, so it’s completely legitimate.

The reason you want to apply for public housing or Section 8 in less populated cities, is because there are fewer people on the waitlist. If you are facing eviction or homelessness and your are willing to move, this could be a way to get emergency housing before other people.

The only drawback to this rule is local people will always always be first priority on a housing waitlist. That being said applying for housing in a city with 40,000 will likely lead to someone getting housing faster than applying in their own city like Houston, where the population is 5 million people!

To find cities with smaller populations, read our article titled How To Get Section 8 Immediately. You will find a table with 1000 cities in the U.S. sorted by population size. Once you find a smaller city you like (say 80,000 or fewer people), visit the HUD website or Google search the housing authorities in that city. Call them to see if they have any open waitlists.

5.) Affordable Housing Online Can Help You Get Emergency Housing

Lastly, if you need emergency housing soon, visit a website called Affordable Housing Online.

This website offers listings of open waiting lists for public housing and Section 8 programs. Just like the previous option, you would need to be able to relocate to a new city or state to get emergency housing with this method.

texas housing assistance
Here is a listing of open waiting lists in Texas. Every state has a list like this and you can find it on Affordable Housing Online.

Affordable Housing Online makes the process of finding emergency housing programs easy because they allow you to set up email alerts. What these do is send you an email whenever a housing waitlist is about to open or close. You can sign up for email alerts for all 50 states if you want to.

Below are links to open waitlist for:

Again visit Affordable Housing Online if you are open to moving to a new location in an effort to move up a housing waitlist fast.


You can find emergency housing programs near you by contacting housing authorities or homeless shelters. These are the two most common organizations that offer such housing assistance.

Housing authorities in less populated cities have shorter waitlists when compared to larger cities. If you cannot move to another smaller city, see if you are priority populations (senior citizen, veteran, have a disability) because this can also help you move up a housing waitlist fast.

Homeless shelters offer the most immediate solution to homelessness. While staying at a homeless shelter they can help you to get on your feet and into a long-term housing program like Rapid Rehousing. This program can offer homeless families supportive services like 12 months of free rent.

If you have questions about emergency housing programs again, contact your local homeless shelters, housing authorities, or even leave a comment below and I will follow up with you.

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4 thoughts on “How To Get Emergency Housing Assistance If You’re Facing Homelessness

  1. Carrie Upchurch Reply

    yes can we bring animals till we find a home for us we moved from tx and the person that said we could live their kicked us out

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Hi Carrie most shelters dont allow animals. If you do have animals this will make it more difficult to find housing. Your best bet is probably renting a house or working with an apartment locator who can let you know which apartments allow pets in your area.

  2. Richard A Daigle Reply

    I’m a disabled person with a caregiver and where homeless I get SSI but can’t find a apartment can someone help us my caregiver name is Danielle and her number is 401-579-1687..also we have medical devices that need to be plug caregiver has a heart monitor and I have a CPAP machine and breathing machine and both of us are on a lot of psychiatric medicine…I get 841 month but every place we called they tell us there a waiting list

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