How to Find Free Rent, Shelter, and Housing Assistance Programs Near Me

Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.

Homelessness can happen to any of us, and if you find yourself in a situation where a place to stay seems impossible, you might be desperately looking for a solution. We don’t always have the safety net of families or friends to help, and knowing where you can look for assistance or free housing is vital. We’ve compiled a list of resources to help you find free rent, shelter, and housing assistance to get you through tough times as efficiently and kindly as possible.


Key Takeaways

  • If you are behind on rent, struggling to pay, or facing eviction, call a helpline like 211 first, as it may be possible to cover back rent and avoid losing your home.
  • Many housing assistance programs try to help the disabled, elderly, and high-risk groups first, so if these are applicable, contact these programs first — especially if you need assisted care.
  • Several religious organizations have affordable housing services and emergency shelters.
  • Contact local churches to see if they offer help or can put you in contact with non-profit organizations.
  • Some agencies have grants to help cover emergency rental needs.
  • Social or subsidized housing is available to those on low and very-low incomes compared to the median wage in your area.
  • If you live in a rural USA area, contact the USDA Rural Development Program for help with mortgage and rent.
  • Many shelters also provide meals and health care services to homeless people.

Ways to Find Free Rent, Shelter, and Housing Assistance Programs

No one in the USA should have to live on the streets, and many organizations work tirelessly to help provide emergency shelter for anyone in need. Not only do they have shelters for individuals and families, but they also aim to assist people in finding affordable housing, whether they need a place for the short or long term.

Government agencies also offer assistance for people who are struggling, with funds designed to cover emergencies or provide long-term solutions to affordable housing.

If you are dealing with late rent or are threatened with eviction, some organizations will help you with landlord mediation and assist you in setting up a payment plan. Depending on your situation and the agency, you can also get help with moving costs, housing application fees, and other rent-related costs such as utilities. The list below includes options for rental, housing help, and emergency shelter information.

1. Federal Housing Resources

The U.S. Government has a host of resources to help with housing, especially for communities and groups that may be at risk of homelessness. The website lists rental housing assistance for those with disabilities, senior citizens, Native Americans, and older veterans.


If you fall into one of these groups, the Housing Help section details how to find suitable housing. Options include independent living, assisted care, a Housing Choice Voucher Program, and assistance for Native Americans to live on private land and reservations.

2. 211 Housing Assistance

If you’re struggling to pay for your housing or cannot find a place to stay, contact via their website or dial 211. For housing assistance, you’ll need to answer questions about your current situation, including where you live, your income, and any children or dependents, so keep this information on hand.

211.Org will help walk you through any eviction or foreclosure problems you may have, including how to set up a mediation with your landlord or lender to explore options like payment plans. 211 representatives will also be able to put you in touch with other Shelter or short-term housing options in your area. You can search for online resources and contact information by location on their web page

3. Rental Assistance Programs

Many local and state-level organizations have funds to help those struggling with rent. If you are renting a place and are unable to meet your rental costs, or are struggling to cover the utilities or other housing-related issues, you could be able to apply for an emergency fund.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has an Emergency Rental Assistance Program, administered and distributed by local communities to those in need.

You can find your local ERA Program and find out what you need and if you qualify, as each state and community has slightly different ways of distributing the funds. This rental assistance can cover rent, utilities, and the cost of your home energy. Sometimes, they can cover moving fees, offer legal representation, and provide housing counseling.


4. Local Community Homeless Assistance

You can find a list of local community homeless assistance providers if you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. HUD exchange has a list of people who can help across the states and provides links to local, religious, and government-assisted programs.

Each link will give the organization’s name, the name of a person to contact, and contact numbers and email addresses. They also clearly lost the area of coverage, so you can easily find which homeless organization is in the best place to assist you. Several organizations may operate in the larger metropolitan areas, so you may find it helpful to contact the one most directly applicable.

5. Just Shelter

Just Shelter is an organization founded initially by Tessa Lowinske Desmond and Matthew Desmond because they felt a need to increase awareness about the lack of affordable housing. They aim to amplify community organizations in America that help to keep housing affordable.

They share the eviction stories of people across America and ask for people to get involved at a community and national level to help end homelessness and provide assistance where they can. The Just Shelter website lists over 600 community and state organizations that help the homeless or those facing homelessness. Select a State on their map to find community help in your area.

6. The Salvation Army Shelter and Housing

The Salvation Army is a religious organization providing assistance to people in need of housing. Whether you are looking for emergency shelter, transitional housing for the short-term, or in need of permanent housing, The Salvation Army could help you.

You can look for Salvation Army resources in your area, and they can ensure you have a safe place to stay during the night. They help men, women, youths, and children find shelter and a place to sleep. Central USA Salvation Army has shelters in Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. You can find Salvation Army Websites for your area and look for transitional housing and homeless shelters near you.

7. Catholic Charities Shelter and Housing

Another religious organization that aims to help people find affordable housing and provides access to homeless shelters is Catholic Charities USA. With many people living in poverty and unable to find or afford a place to stay, Catholic Charities works towards ensuring that everyone has a place to stay all year round. They construct new affordable housing units and provide emergency housing services.


As well as assisting with affordable housing, they have immigration and refugee services and integrated health assistance. Their Affordable Housing service offers aid to seniors, low-income people and families, and adults who need assisted care due to developmental disabilities. You can contact them to find out if they have agencies in your area and what services they offer.

8. Modest Needs Rent Assistance Grant

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization to provide short-term financial help for people and their families in temporary crisis. This help is for people who are in work but are just above the poverty level and therefore cannot apply for social assistance. They know that sometimes all it takes are missed paycheck or an unexpected cost to tip you into a dire situation.

If you want to contact Modest Needs for help with a small grant to cover your rent, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your current financial state. It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete the application, and have your most recent tax return or bank statement on hand to ensure you answer the questions correctly.

9. Subsidized Housing

If you require social housing due to low income, you can find public subsidized housing that caters to families, individuals, the elderly, and those living with disabilities. Subsidized housing can be publicly funded or via a HUD-registered private landlord and comes in all types and sizes, from family homes to single-person apartments. The HUD has information on where to apply for public housing.

Your income will determine your eligibility for social housing. Eligibility will depend on your area, and income limits are variable due to this. You may qualify in one area but not another — find the income limits guide here. The application process will be written, and you must go through your local HUD Field Office and work with a representative who will explain the process to you.

10. Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher

If you are elderly, disabled, or in a low-income family, you may be eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). You must earn below 50% of your area’s median income to qualify.

You can apply for the voucher through your local public housing authority, and the voucher pays anything over 30% of your rent at Fair Market Rent prices. Effectively this means you will need to cover around 60%-70% of your rent.

You will need to contact your local Public Housing Agency for advice on how to apply for the Section 8 voucher. Waiting lists for support can be 1-2 years in some places, and you can only use the Section 8 vouchers on properties that accept these vouchers and are subject to an inspection.

If you are running behind on your rent or face eviction for another reason, you may have legal resources that can help you avoid having to move. Depending on the situation, you may be able to organize a meeting with your landlord and come to a suitable agreement, such as paying off arrears.


Many of the above-listed associations can help walk you through what needs to be done or can mediate and offer advice. You can also find State-specific legal aid, such as Southern Nevada’s Legal Aid Center, the One Justice Project, which helps renters in Small Claims court, and Law Help.

If Covid-19 is a factor in your rental problems, you can also find out your rights and seek emergency legal help with landlord-tenant issues by contacting Legal Faq. This non-profit can put you in the direction of your local legal help and help you find financial assistance with housing costs.

They recommend you keep written copies of communication with your landlord about rent and associated problems, plus all communication with your employer about any covid-19-related employment and health expenses.

What Is The Biggest Contributor To Homelessness?

Research by National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has shown that poverty and homelessness are deeply interlinked, with poverty being one of the most significant driving factors of homelessness.

While some people have the attitude that all homeless people are addicts or lazy, this is simply not true. With low wages and a high cost of living, many people are working full-time and are still unable to house and support their families.

How Do You Access Health Care When Homeless?

Homelessness is risky for health as terrible living conditions and high stress negatively impact health, including exacerbating chronic conditions. Along with the fear of trying to find a safe place to stay, you might also be worried about accessing health services when you cannot afford rent.

Many shelters across the country will provide some health services or on-site clinics for residents, so check the shelters list for more information. Some day centers around the country also provide mental health and guidance services for homeless people. Many of these are city-focused religious houses that provide meals and health services; an excellent example of one such is Christ House in Washinton, DC.

Keep Browsing