We live in a country where individuals who are unhoused are not often given the dignity they deserve. Between discriminatory anti-homeless laws, lack of funding for social services, and overall high cost of living – the ability to live in a home that feels safe and secure is looking more and more like a privilege than as the human right it should be.
Facing housing insecurity can be an immensely challenging experience. For some, it could be a lack of resources and support, for others, it may be the first time they are truly feeling a sense of freedom from past toxic environments. Finding a safe space and finding your independence may be hard, and there may be times when the resources that you seek feel out of reach or unhelpful. If you are reading this blog because you are looking for resources for yourself, know that you are not alone and have options. You deserve to be in a space where you can feel at ease and where you can feel embraced by those around you. You also deserve to know that you matter and that your worth does not change simply because the world can be a tough place to secure a home.
Here are three tips to consider when facing housing insecurity
- Start with what you know and who you know. Think about who is in your community and support system. Do you have any family, friends, colleagues, or known allies who may be able to help you in this process? Perhaps someone can offer temporary housing or financial assistance or help walk you through the process. Even if they don’t have the direct resources that you need, maybe you can lean on them for emotional support. It is okay to ask and to explore your options.
- Take inventory of your needs. What is most pressing at the moment? Perhaps you are facing mental health or substance use concerns that you may need treatment for. Perhaps your priority is getting out of a toxic environment as soon as possible. Maybe you want to explore rental support or other resources before you are in a more dire situation. If you are in the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled, a parent of children, a victim of intimate partner violence, or identify as Black, Indigenous, or person of color (BIPOC), be sure to also consider what your specific needs may be when looking into shelters or programs.
- Don’t give up. It’s a cliche phrase, but it also speaks the truth. The search for stable housing is a challenging journey that may require overcoming a variety of systemic barriers. There could be times that you reach out for resources and are told that the waitlist is long or that they are booked up at the moment. Many programs change capacity from day to day, so it is important to keep trying and have a list of programs on hand.
Here are some resources to support your search for housing resources:
Shelter, financial assistance, basic necessities, and social services
- Call 211 or visit the 211 directory online
- SAMHSA: Find Help
- HHS: Homelessness Resources and Programs
- USA.gov: Housing help
- HUD Exchange: Homelessness Assistance Programs
- How to Get Help If You Are Experiencing Homelessness
- USA.gov: Get help for homelessness, hunger, and more
- Feeding America: Find Free Food and Groceries
- Fair Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence
- National Center for Transgender Inequality: Know Your Rights - Housing and Homelessness
- LGBTQ+ Homeless Resources
- National Center for Homeless Education: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Tips from unhoused individuals
- How to Survive Being Homeless
- Street Survivors: Basic, Proven, and Practical Survival Skills from the Homeless
- 16 Homeless Survival Tips for How to Survive on the Streets
This year’s Mental Health Month theme is all about your environment. Download the toolkit for additional resources on housing insecurity and making your space safe and healthy.
Finding a space where you can feel safe and at peace is difficult and at times may feel isolating, but it is not impossible. With these resources and tips, I hope you feel equipped to carry on and know where to turn to find some stable ground.