Individuals and families who are faced with the possibility of becoming homeless will have a lot of questions. Can you prepare for homelessness? What type of housing assistance is available? Is it possible to recover from being homeless? What are some ways to get out of homelessness?
Many individuals and families who have experienced homelessness have gone on to lead fulfilling lives. Preparing for homelessness and regaining housing stability and financial security requires determination, support, and access to resources.
What homeless means
Homelessness is defined as the lack of a stable, safe, and regular nighttime residence. Homelessness can occur in many forms, including:
Inadequate housing: Living in unstable, overcrowded, or substandard housing that is considered unsuitable for human habitation.
Sheltered homelessness: Living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or even “couch surfing.”
Unsheltered homelessness: Living on the streets or places not meant for habitation.
Voluntary homelessness: Choosing to live without a permanent residence for personal reasons.
Involuntary homelessness: Experiencing homelessness due to circumstances beyond your control, such as job loss, eviction, or natural disaster.
What is the main cause of homelessness?
Homelessness is a complex issue that can be caused by a combination of factors. Some of the key contributors to homelessness include:
Lack of affordable housing
Unemployment and low income
Mental health conditions
Substance abuse and addiction
Traumatic events and natural disasters
If you’re facing homelessness in the near future, you can take steps today to prepare for the near term and get back on your feet in the long term. Preparing for homelessness involves these key steps:
Find financial support
Seek support and resources to help you get back on track financially. This could be a local financial institution or a nonprofit credit counseling agency, which can help you build a budget that prioritizes essential expenses like food, transportation, and medical care. Marine Credit Union partners with GreenPath Financial Wellness.
If you’re not already employed and if you are able, finding a stable job can provide some financial stability while you work through this challenging time. Job training programs, resume assistance, and networking opportunities can help you secure employment, increase your income, and begin saving for the future.
Explore community resources
Many communities offer resources designed to help individuals facing homelessness, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, food banks, healthcare, mental health support, substance abuse treatment, and more. These services can help you navigate the near term and provide a foundation for long-term recovery.
Understand your housing options
Research emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, and affordable housing options in your area. Start by contacting local housing authorities to understand your options for housing assistance.
Make a long-term plan for financial security
Your primary focus is dealing with immediate challenges, but it’s also important to consider long-term solutions to regain stability. Take advantage of community services like job training and financial literacy education. Learning new life skills and tips for money management can help you set and achieve goals for the future.
Build a support network
Experiencing homelessness is difficult, and the path to recovery is not always linear. A support network of friends, family, community groups, and social services may be able to offer temporary housing, emotional support, or help in finding resources. These groups can help you find a sense of belonging and motivate your recovery.
Homeless Assistance Programs
Homeless assistance programs serve individuals and families who are currently homeless or at risk for homelessness. If you or someone you know is preparing for the potential of homelessness, these resources are available to help:
Many non-profit organizations, religious groups, and community centers run homelessness assistance programs, such as shelters, food banks, job training, and more.
Health clinics and hospitals
Health clinics and hospitals may be able to provide information about local resources for people experiencing homelessness. They may also offer health services specifically for individuals who are homeless.
Local social services or housing authorities
Your local government’s social services department or housing authority can provide information about shelters, transitional housing, rental assistance programs, and other available resources.
You can find information on homelessness assistance on various state, city, and county websites.