If you’re facing homelessness, these tips can help you get ready for and work through the situation.
Prepare Yourself and Your Family
Make sure your state ID or driver’s license is current and available. Shelters and assistance programs may have strict ID requirements.
If possible, store your belongings. Shelters have limits on how much you may bring.
Arrange for your mail to be delivered somewhere or talk to your local post office. Many have special services for people who are homeless. You may be able to get a free P.O. box or receive general delivery service.
Pack a bag for yourself and each member of your family.
Keep important documents and needed medications with you.
Dial 211. In most areas of the U.S., this will connect you with local social services and referrals for emergency housing.
Check for shelter and housing through your state. You can also check your local government or state's human or social services programs for housing assistance. Or, use the map on the Homeless Shelter Directory to find a shelter near you. The types of facilities vary. Research the best options for:
Cost - Most shelters are free, but some may charge a small fee. Most facilities that provide residential drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs charge a fee. Many, however, are low-cost, accept Medicaid, or operate on a sliding scale based on your income.
Length of stay - This can vary from a couple of days to weeks or months.
Types of services - Some facilities just provide safe shelter for the night, while others are transitional. They provide both housing and support services. They may help you with substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, or job training.
Apply for more permanent public or subsidized housing. Typically, there are long waiting lists for public and subsidized housing. Apply as soon as possible.
Homeless Resources for Special Groups
These resources are geared toward specific audiences:
Homeless Veteran Resources from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - Use these resources to find safe housing. Or, explore opportunities to return to employment, find health care, or get mental health services.
Call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838). You can find help 24 hours a day.
Call the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929).
Housing programs and street outreach - Find stable, safe housing. You can also get education help, survival aid, counseling, crisis intervention, and follow-up support.
People with Mental Illness
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) - Find help if you have a serious mental illness. The PATH program can assist you if you’re homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Other Types of Help if You’re Homeless
Visit Benefits.gov to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for other types of help. This may include financial assistance, transportation, food, counseling, and more.
If you don’t have medical insurance, you can use HRSA health centers. They give checkups, treatment when you’re sick, pregnancy care, and immunizations for your children.