How Can I Get Emergency or Immediate Housing?

modern-floral-robin-mead1-e1530745936193Many of our readers ask if it’s possible to get a disability accommodation to move up a housing wait list. Sadly, this is not possible. Happily, there are some other things that are possible.

Twenty five strategies for finding quicker affordable housing:

Homeless Agencies

Call everywhere and ask around. Some agencies just give people a bed for the night with little or no other help. Other agencies have whole programs that can help you transition into permanent, stable housing. It may help to contact everywhere you can and see what they can offer. Where to start looking: Homeless Resources

If You Are At Risk

Even if you are not homeless yet, if you are at risk for becoming homeless, some of these programs may be able to help. For example, if you have an eviction or foreclosure notice, if you are transitioning out of an institution or care facility, or if you are not sure exactly where you will be living in 14 days. 

HUD Housing

HUD Housing typically has waiting lists, but there’s a trick: The more lists you get on, the better your chances of something coming up more quickly.

Many people do not realize how many different lists exist. If you live in a rural or suburban area, your county may have 10 or more different places you can apply. If you live in or near a big city, there may be 50 or more. How to Find Open Waiting Lists the Easy Way

You Don’t Need a Voucher

You don’t need a voucher to get super cheap housing. Many buildings come with their own funding. You can apply even if your income is $0! However, you may need to be able to pay a security deposit. See link above for where to find places to apply. 

Call Buildings

Don’t just call housing agencies… try calling buildings directly.  Karen was told it would take 7 years, but she found a place in just a few months: How I Got Affordable Housing When the Wait Lists Were Closed

Accessible Apartments

No voucher needed. No income required (You may need to pay a security deposit, though). Subsidized apartments. To apply, your household must include at least one person who is physically disabled or a senior or a veteran. Available in various states. We don’t know how long it takes, but they do publish this page that lists: Short Waiting Lists.

Share Program

The Share Program has immediate openings and over 100 houses in Los Angeles offering shared rooms. Must have SSI or other income and be willing to participate in support groups. No other requirements. No deposits, no background checks, no credit checks, no paperwork and past evictions are OK. Long or short stays. Roommates. “Single family homes in middle class neighborhoods”.

Catholic Workers

Catholic Worker communities exist throughout the country. These programs are committed to “nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. You do not need to be Catholic to participate. Some offer housing.

Are “Low Income” Buildings Too Expensive?

There are different types of low income buildings. Some are so expensive that actual low income people can’t live there! Others are open to people even if they have $0 in income.

Learn more: Help! I’m Too Poor for Low Income Housing.

Start Looking: How to Find Super Cheap Housing WITHOUT a Housing Voucher

Is Someone Disabled?

If one or more adults in your household is disabled, look into “disabled or elderly” buildings. Most buildings have wait lists, but wait list time can be shorter than for other kinds of subsidized housing. Mostly 1 or 2 bedrooms. Some do not accept children. How To Find HUD “Elderly” or “Disabled” Apartments

Not a Senior? 

If a building says “senior” always call and ask if they accept younger people who are disabled. If only one person is disabled or only one person is a senior: Can My Family Apply for Disability Housing if Only One Person is Disabled?

Get Plucky

Dandelion was told it would take three years… She contacted 70 buildings and moved into nice housing in less than six months: Dandelion Gets Nice, Affordable Housing QUICKLY

Is Someone Over 55?

If one or more adults in your household is over 55, look into “elderly” and “senior” buildings. Mostly 1 or 2 bedrooms. Some buildings start at 62, and some start at 55.  Wait lists for these buildings is often shorter. How To Find HUD “Elderly” or “Disabled” Apartments

Problems with Evictions, References, Background or Credit?

If you are having difficulty qualifying due to background checks, and these issues were created by your disabilities, in some situations, you can request an accommodation: Background Checks and Credit Checks

Get Creative

Section 8 housing vouchers can make your rent very, very low. But they can also be very, very difficult to get. And can take a very, very long time.

If the waitlists in your area are all closed or take forever, there may be a way you can still get a housing voucher. Here is  where you will find 37 Creative Strategies for Getting Section 8

Supportive Housing

If you have a mental health diagnosis and history of homelessness, many Supportive Housing programs are great. Try contacting homeless resource programs in your area.  Also, try Googling the name of your state or city and the words “Supportive Housing” or “Supported Housing.” Here is an example of supportive housing in Virginia. Also inquire at your local Community based mental health centers

Apply From Home

 If you or your family member are disabled and this makes travel difficult, you can make an accommodation request to apply from home (even if they tell you this is absolutely not allowed ever): Apply by Mail or Email

Apply in Other Areas

In some areas, waiting lists can be much shorter. There’s no limit to how many different places you can apply and how many list so you can be home. Apply everywhere! You may need to move, but it may be worth it. Can I Apply for Section 8 if I Live in Another State?

If you decide to apply in other areas, here’s some things you need to know. There’s a chance you might not even have to move to the other area! Finding Housing Quickly By Applying Elsewhere

Move a Voucher to You

Here is a creative way some of our readers have gotten vouchers in their home towns: They apply in another area. Then, when they reach the top of the waiting list, they get their voucher and move it back to where they live. Learn more: Moving a Voucher to You

Ignore “Emergency Vouchers”

You may have noticed a lot of websites telling you that you can apply for “emergency vouchers.” You may have even seen this on the HUD website. You may have also noticed that no agencies in your area will actually offer these vouchers or tell you how to get one. That’s because they don’t really exist.  Perhaps at some point in time one person somewhere got one.

Ignore centralized waiting lists

Many areas have a centralized waiting list, where you just apply once and you are put on a lot of different waiting list. Sounds great! But doesn’t work great!

These lists take forever. It’s not bad to get on them, but it could take many years to get housing this way.

Many people do not realize that the centralized waiting list do not include all affordable housing opportunities. For example, in Massachusetts, the centralized waiting list takes 5 to 10 years. Applying directly to a building that is not on the centralized waiting list can take a year or less.

Already On Waiting Lists?

You can see if the list you are on has any preferences, and notify them if your circumstances change and you meet a preference now. For example, if there is a preference for homeless, and you become homeless, let them know. Preferences on Housing Waiting Lists

Already in Affordable Housing?

If you are already in housing but having a bad experience, you may be able to request to transfer to a different apartment in the same building. Or a different building owned by the same landlord or agency. If there is a wait list, you may be able to skip the list: Transferring Apartments

Were You Ever on a Wait List?

If you were ever on a list or tried to apply in the past, but lost your spot, you may be able to get your spot back. Even if years have passed! In fact, your spot may be the top of the list by now! Learn more: Get Back Spot on Wait List

Were You Ever in Affordable Housing?

If you had a voucher or subsidized housing in the past and lost it, in some situations, you may be able to get it back: Get Voucher Back or Get Housing Back

Did You Ever Get Turned Down?

If you applied to a housing program in the past and got turned down, in some situations, you can appeal this decision and get your spot back: Get Back Spot on Wait List and Background Checks and Credit Checks

Short Term

Peer run respite centers can provide shelter and mental health support for short periods. Usually a week or two. These programs are run by people who have experienced mental health crisis themselves.

Connect with Mental Health System

In some areas, this is a great resource for finding housing:  Community based mental health centers

Rent Assistance

Not available in all areas, but some areas have local nonprofits or social service programs that can assist with your rent where you are already living. It is often one-time or small amounts. See list below and try contacting local housing and social service agencies in your area to ask if there is any one-time or emergency funding available.

Nonprofit and Social Service Agencies

You may wish to try contacting all the local homeless and housing agencies agencies in your area and in surrounding areas. Readers report that services vary widely. It may help to contact everywhere you can and see what they can offer. If you are disabled, call all the places that say “senior” or “elderly” and ask if they help younger disabled people, too. Places you can try:


If someone is in your household is a veteran and is now homeless (or was previously homeless) you might be eligible for some rent assistance for up to two years. Rent assistance for veterans.

As of March 2020, this program is available in:

  • California: Alameda (including Oakland), Contra Costa, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara
  • District of Columbia: Washington
  • Hawaii: Honolulu
  • Illinois: Cook County
  • New York: New York City and Bronx, Queens, Kings and Richmond counties
  • Washington: Seattle

It may expand in the future. Check with your Homeless Programs Office at your local VA medical center or contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).

16 thoughts on “How Can I Get Emergency or Immediate Housing?”

  1. I’m very grateful for all the Info; and the effort you’ve put out to help people as my self i’ve only got 4 days left to move and can’t seem to be getting any where by searching for help with rent places here in Kentucky. Our having to move has nothing to do with anything we’ve done just they want to give this place to their daughter which is getting married but has put us in a hard spot. we my wife and I live on disability less than $1,200 a month after paying our utilities here we’re broke. had to get loans to make ends meet during this covid-19 desaster and honestly don’t know what to do any more.any advice would be greatly appreciated.THANK YOU

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear this so often. A drug use ‘history’ or non-violent drug arrest seems to disqualify those who ARE working on recovery via out patient or who are working on building back their lives. Does gov’t subsidized housing programs CLOSE their eyes & pretend that ADDICTIONS aren’t a mental disease??? I’ve witnessed how HARD it is for former addicts & or those with an arrest record in the past 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 yrs try to Affordable housing. MANY end up homeless or in drug infested areas that’s NOT conducive to continued recovery. It’s really heart breaking to see so many who become suicidal, commit suicide or go back to using & O.D. BECAUSE it’s a NO WIN situation. There’s NO HELP for these ppl … trust me, I’ve been an ADVOCATE for the homeless & the hopeless to no avail.😪


  3. My two children and I are in need of a miracle. We have been going to hotel to hotel and they are getting more expensive by the minute.
    My children have changed due to this. 7 year old and 10 year old.
    I’m trying my best to keep us under a roof.
    I pray for a stable and permanent house to make a home.
    I appreciate this site and all the information. Thank you. Pray for us as I pray for all of you!
    AGAPE. 🙏🏼👩‍👧‍👦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good Evening,
    Thank you very much for posting all the wonderful housing tips and pointers my family will really appreciate all the help that we can get at this point! Our family is currently in desperate need of housing, my husband and I are currently working with an attorney it trying to get our daughter back home and so that is where all of our money is currently tied up at … and thats the most important thing to us we dont want to loose her but we dont have much in the way of funds at the moment to help us pay to get into a place either but we are in desperate need of housing in order to be able to have our daughter come home so we are desperately looking for any possible chance to be able to get help getting into housing as that is one of the requirements for us to be able to have her come home so any help you could possibly give to my family would be so much appreciated and my family would be forever grateful Thank you and have a wonder evening!!


    1. My suggestion is to go to and work your way through the Essential Needs listings. There are a lot of agencies mobilized to help folks in crisis right now, but you have to reach out to them. If you are financially strapped and need to fill out funds, local libraries will often let you print materials for free. Good luck.


  5. I’m looking for grants to help me with rent or paying for deposit. It’s been 2 months in and out of court for I got a evcition notice cause my landlady came to get rent and told me that the rent was a hundred dollars more and I tried to explain that I didn’t have no more money I only get 720 a month from SSI and for whatever reason 3 days later I’m being served with a evcition notice. I’ve applied for HUD but got denied cause of my background check. I need a 2 bedroom house if anyone knows of any. Loretta H.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear this. This page has a section on requesting exceptions to background checks as a disability accommodation. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to go back to HUD and request to reverse the denial.


  6. I’m a 55yr old female needing housing assistance. I have no children, still waiting on stimulus check, still waiting on unemployment check, have no money and to top it off, I have no car. I’m about to have a breakdown because I can’t find any help and I’m about to be homeless. Someone please, please help me!


    1. Kimberly, I was working with a financial services company receiving calls from distressed military personnel or former military and their families. It was heart-wrenching to hear young people tell me they were trying to sell their record players to pay their insurance to keep a vehicle on the road. These people internalized all the hardship they were experiencing, and were frenetic or depressed or ashamed and embarrassed. Why doesn’t someone in the media finally admit that just because 6 figure paper dolls reading off a teleprompter arent in financial distress does not mean the last year plus of complete chaos has thrown a large portion of red blooded hard-working patriotic americans into the most godawful circumstances. The only difference between me and them is I do not internalize the angst and ogidda because I know what kind of effort I put in to my own financial survival, and for the continued prosperous future for my children and grandchildren. Hang in there! You are not alone! It is about the economy you idiotic elite social planners!


  7. Thank you so much on this website. I am a 58 year old disabled woman who has run from domestic violence. I have been disabled for almost seven years and I have never been able to find anybody to help me how to fill out all these forms. I’m just not able for some reason. Now that I found this website and I have some help or in the coronavirus era and all the offices are closed. I have a really hard time I have all the pieces but it’s hard for me to put them together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi diane,

      I’m sorry you are in this situation. If you have any kind of psychiatrist or threapist or social worker, you may be able to ask them how they can help you get a caseworker who can help with forms.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Diane , you sound like me, but I’m 40….I was curious if you have traumatic brain injury? That’s my issue , it’s caused problems between my brain and eyes: forms are the worst for me.


    3. I’m living in a wonderful one bedroom duplex apartment with a great landlord. I want to stay here, but am financially very strapped. Rent is $850, soon to be $950. Is there a way to get my landlord to become HUD-friendly or Section-8-friendly? I want to suggest it to them, but want to bring all of the logistics to the table to make it easy for them. Have you heard of anyone taking this approach?


      1. Hi Veda, The only way to do it would be if you get a housing voucher. But that can take many years, and there is no guarantee your current rent will be within the voucher range. You may find it worth exploring some of the other options above. Hope you find somewhere good. 🏵️ 🌼💛 


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