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
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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