By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department
At the library, we do more than just help people find the best books (although we love doing that, too). We also care about helping people find the best information to improve their lives. As one of the biggest bills of the month, rent can be a major financial stress. In this article on free resources we’ve compiled some helpful links from http://www.needhelppayingbills.com to organizations that may help you, a family member, or a friend get the assistance you need.
Click on the links below for access to various government, local, national, non-profit and charity programs that provide direct rental or financial assistance, while others offer referrals or help people sign up for public funding and private resources.
And don’t think we forgot about you home owners! Keep scrolling down for more information on foreclosures, refinancing, and mortgage-related scams to avoid.
State Assistance Programs and Organizations
Many states and local governments operate agencies and public assistance type programs that can help you with paying your rent, security deposits, and other housing expenses. Contact the assistance agencies and programs to get information on rent help from these types of resources, or call your local community action agency to learn about what other government services and programs may be available.
Rent Assistance from Federal Stimulus Program
The federal government is providing billions of dollars for housing and rental assistance as a result of the stimulus program. The name of the program being funded is The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (more on this program), and most of the rental help is being distributed at the local government level. So your local social service agency, county government, charities and other organizations will process applications.
Rental Assistance from Federal Government Organizations
The largest program is HUD (Housing and Urban Development). Almost 1.5 million families use this program and it helps those in need pay their rent and security deposits. Other housing costs such as energy bills may be paid for as well. It is targeted to low income individuals, including senior citizens and the disabled. In addition to offering grants that help pay rent, the government Rental Voucher Program also helps to increase the availability of affordable housing choices by allowing families to select privately owned rental housing. More.
USDA Rural Development provides affordable housing, vouchers, and rental assistance for struggling rural families. Beneficiaries tend to be low-income residents, disabled, and the elderly who live in multiunit housing buildings. Continue.
Veterans and their families can get help with paying rent from a federal government resource known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. This service is providing rental assistance vouchers and security deposit assistance to both veterans and their family members. More.
Receive legal advice to prevent evictions. Over one million people per year receive some form of free legal assistance and counsel to help them deal with eviction notices from the federal government funded Legal Services Corp. Attorneys can try to mediate a solution with your landlord and advise you on your rights. Or they can help you apply for government benefits such section 8, help with housing discrimination, and provide other aid. Click here to read more.
Or if you are being evicted because your landlord is facing foreclosure, read about your tenant – landlord foreclosure rights.
Apply for government or private grants. Many non-profit private organizations as well as the government have information on or offer grants that can be used to help pay rent.
Eviction Prevention Programs
Find emergency rental assistance from programs that prevent homelessness and evictions. The federal government as well as many local and state governments and nonprofit organizations have emergency eviction prevention programs in place for low and moderate income individuals and families. Many of the programs will try to prevent evictions and associated lawsuits, with a goal of stopping homelessness. Some even try to stop foreclosures. They provide resources such as mediation, landlord and tenant assessments, conflict resolution, direct rent payments and grants to tenants, and other forms of rental assistance. Or an agency may be able to help you locate more affordable housing. Learn more.
Rent assistance from charities and other local resources
For short term rent help look to your local community, including non-profits and charities. If you are experiencing a difficult time in paying your rent for a month or if you think you may soon fall behind, you should contact community based and local agencies that may be able to help you and your family with paying housing costs, rent and security deposits. There are many community groups, churches, and charitable organizations that will sometimes have funds that can help people who are having financial difficulties. Some of the organizations, such as the Salvation Army and United Way, can assist with making rent payments if they have funding. Priority is often given to people who are faced with a short term financial hardship or crisis. They will also often provide case management, referrals, and other social services. See the following link of organizations that can help.
There are also other charities and not for profit organizations that can help with housing costs, such as utility and heating bills. Resources provided are often one-time-only or they are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so you should not depend on these sources over the long term for rent or housing assistance. Calling these organizations, even if you are affiliated with their group or already a member, can sometimes get you the help you need. Or if an organization does not have funding, many can refer people to another agency that can help with paying rent and bills if your need is great.
Some examples of agencies that can help with these types of expenses include Catholic Charities, government social service offices, United Way, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Legal Aid Society. There are many others. Find more emergency rent assistance agencies.
Many local churches are increasing their assistance programs, including offering more rent help, electric bill aid, and more. However many churches rely heavily on donations from the community and therefore tend to have very limited funding available.
Short term and transitional housing programs are operated by numerous non-profit agencies. For families that are behind on their rent and facing imminent eviction or individuals that are currently homeless, these programs can help them find a place to live, such as a shelter, and gain self-sufficiency. Once that occurs, get assistance in locating a new, low income home to live in. While more limited, some of these transitional services can direct qualified clients to resources that can help them pay for expenses such as moving costs, a security deposit, or maybe even their first month’s rent. Read more.
Communication is always key. Contact your creditors, as well as your landlord, and communicate with them and tell them exactly what is going on. You need to be very honest about every part of your financial picture. You can ask for a lower temporary monthly rental payment, or even ask for a skipped payment schedule or some type of installment plan. The landlord and creditors will appreciate you being proactive, and in many cases they would rather keep you as a tenant than have to evict you, as it can cost them thousands of dollars to go through the eviction process, market the site, find a new tenant, run background checks on the new tenant, etc. It is many times in their best interest to work with you to find a solution.
In danger of foreclosure on your home?
Are you anticipating a change to your adjustable mortgage that will be too expensive for you? Do not ignore the situation. Act now. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has provided training to many organizations across Tennessee that will provide free and confidential counseling about your options.
Learn about Great Save, a new refinance program from THDA
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has a new mortgage program called Great Save to refinance adjustable rate mortgage loans closed after December 31, 2001 and before January 1, 2008. To qualify, the THDA must determine that a financial hardship to the borrower is likely if they do not refinance.
Involved in a possible lending or mortgage-related scam?
The Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Resources Division will identify if there is a problem and help you through the formal complaint process.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Armed with the proper financial knowledge, this metaphor can become a reality. Finding the right assistance can open many doors – we hope you or someone you know can benefit from these free, helpful resources!