Facing Homelessness: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Facing Homelessness

By Jennifer Tucker
September 12, 2023 | 3 Min. Read

How do I prepare for homelessness?

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
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment and low income
  • Domestic violence
  • 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.

Seek employment

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:

Non-profit organizations

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.

Government websites

You can find information on homelessness assistance on various state, city, and county websites.

Dial 2-1-1 for Support

211 is a phone number in the U.S. and Canada that provides a single point of contact for individuals and families seeking assistance, making it easier for them to access the help they need.

What is 211 used for?

Dialing 211 will connect you with trained professionals who can provide information on a wide range of resources in your local area, including:

  • Housing and shelter
  • Health and mental health services
  • Employment and job training
  • Financial assistance
  • Legal and government services
  • Support for seniors and persons with disabilities
  • Children and family services
  • Disaster and emergency services
  • Volunteer opportunities

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