Do you need help with rent and other financial assistance or know someone struggling to make ends meet? You’re not alone! There are over 44 million on unemployment, 23 million at risk of eviction, and millions more barely making it paycheck-to-paycheck.
Getting through financial hardships isn’t easy so finding help with rent and other financial assistance is important to support efforts toward a more hopeful tomorrow. The internet has a plethora of suggestions emphasizing budget cuts and leaning on family and friends for support.
But if you’ve exhausted those resources, before you max out and pay rent with credit card transactions, check out the below useful ideas, funding opportunities, and agency links to research that may get you through these tough times.
Banks and Credit Unions
Check with your local bank or credit union to see if they have grants or funds for helping the community as some are offering these to the general public and may not require an account or membership.
National and Community Outreach Organizations
Modest Needs offers grants up to $1000 with payments made directly from them to the creditors or vendors. To learn more visit: modestneeds.org/about-us/
United Way is a national organization providing support and resources across the country. The United Way COVID19 resource has handy information including a sample email template to use when working with your landlord. Visit this directory to find your local United Way office: unitedway.org/find-your-united-way.
211 is one way that the United Way is providing region resource information. Similar to calling 911 for emergency assistance, dial 211 on your phone to find rental assistance programs and other helpful resources in your area. The same information is available online at 211.org
Community Action Groups
Across the country, there are organizations called to serve the community. These community action groups may go by different names. One resource to locating one in your area is provided by the National Community Action Partnership which offers this interactive map.
Faith-Based Financial Support
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army may have rent assistance and other resources. Funds are typically limited to one-time assistance so check with your local Salvation Army for specifics.
Offers emergency assistance grants and other support in a variety of services.
Local Churches and other Religious Organizations
There are many local churches and local chapters of faith-based organizations that are ready to serve such as the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.
It may be that they only offer resources such as food banks or help with utility bills but any little bit helps bring down expenses to meet your help with rent obligations.
City, County, and State Programs, Grants, and Loans
Hop online or grab your phone and reach out to your city, county, and the state as each might have received funds or set funds aside to help the community at large.
For example, Illinois is offering a $5,000 relief program to help with rent and Multnomah County, Oregon offers short-term help with emergency housing vouchers, rent, and mortgage payments, and other housing costs based on income.
Oregon just launched a one-time COVID-19 $500 emergency relief check program for those eligible. So be sure to contact your state and ask if there are programs in place or coming soon.
Remember to check with those state and local agencies often as legislation continues to be introduced changing the available resources. California for instance has a few rent assistance bills in the works that if passed would have the state pay the landlord and give the tenant up to 10 years to pay the state back, alleviating the fear of eviction for non-payment.
Department of Social Services
In line with reaching out to government agencies, find out what resources your area Department of Social Services has to offer as they often have help for emergency rent assistance. The Office of Administration for Children and Families (ACF) provides states with grants to offer the
One such social service program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). You can locate your state TANF program contact using this directory.
The Department of Social Services can also help with child care costs and help with job search resources.
Federal Resources and Relief
Usually, most federal resources and relief are provided to each state, territory, and district directly to be administered through those individual agencies. However, for those who haven’t received a Federal stimulus payment you might still qualify if you submit the appropriate tax and banking documents.
If your income has significantly reduced, you may qualify for the Federal housing voucher program.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has grants and loans available as well.
A handy guide to state-by-state tax information, deadlines, and resources can be found here: Breakdown | Coronavirus Tax Relief for US Citizens
In locating additional state-specific COVID19 resources including financial aid, turn to this Ultimate State Guide here: Ultimate State Guide to Coronavirus Information
Lower Income Housing Options
If you need to move to find affordable housing options check programs that offer publicly subsidized housing and privately owned subsidized housing such as the HOME program. Also, Section 8 not only offers ongoing rent subsidies but may also provide utility funds; both of which are then directly paid to the landlord.
Renters Who Are Business Owners
Check with your City, County, State for grants and loans including economic development aid. Check the fine print to see if you can use those funds for personal finance concerns. If only to be used for business-related expenses, that still should offer some relief.
Help with Necessities
Throughout communities, there are food banks ready to lend a hand by providing staples. Federal resources are also available such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
What to do When Your Behind on Rent
This is a stressful time, no doubt. When stress bangs at the door the response is either fight, flight, or freeze which are all reactive states. To move past the urge to run and hide or freeze up, take small steps to dispel procrastination – any step forward can help create a state of hope.
It’s hard to move forward unless you know what you are facing. The first step in preparation and knowing where you stand financially is to take inventory of your situation. Knowing where you stand financially requires looking at the big picture as well as the small details.
- Log into your tenant portal to access the latest invoice and get an understanding of outstanding rent charges, late fees, etc.
- Grap a copy of your financial bank statements to get a picture of current spending habits and account balances.
- Gather credit card statements and all outstanding bills.
- Read your lease to know what happens if you miss a payment.
Put it in Writing
Create either a spreadsheet or a simple list of all outstanding debts, recurring expenses, necessities, and income. Then, next to each debt and recurring expense add the contact information for that provider to have handy when you contact them.
Communicate with Creditors
One by one, call each creditor, including your landlord to explore options and seek suggestions to help you meet your obligations. For example, ask if they can waive late fees, extend due dates, or even reduce minimum payments due. This one step alone may help free up extra funds.
Direct the conversation away from making payment plans or schedules if possible until you are finished with your research and formulate a budget. But assure them a call back to formalize a payment plan as soon as possible.
Plan for Success
Weigh and discuss options with significant others, such as family, and friends. Seek wise counsel and reach out to as many of the above resources as possible.
If you find you need to move to cut costs, before breaking the lease understand that you are still responsible for the outstanding rent balance and take into account additional costs to moving such as the moving van, losing deposits, and the costs of breaking a lease. It may be more cost-effective to find payment solutions or work out a payment plan rather than move.
Lastly, communicate with your landlord and other creditors. Let them know your intension whether that is to move, pause services, cancel cards, payment arrangements, or the like. They will appreciate knowing your plans and may even help with suggestions or resources to make your goals achievable.