What to Do if You Need Stable Housing Now

May 22, 2024

by United Way NCA

In times of crisis, stable housing is a fundamental need. For individuals navigating emergency housing options, access to reliable information and resources can be a beacon of hope.

This guide offers essential insights and practical advice for those facing housing instability. We aim to empower individuals with actionable steps, inspirational narratives, and the latest updates in emergency housing assistance. Whether you’re experiencing sudden homelessness, fleeing from unsafe conditions, or encountering financial hardship, this resource aims to illuminate pathways toward stability and security.

Understanding Emergency Housing Needs

Emergency housing refers to immediate shelter or accommodation provided to individuals or families facing sudden homelessness due to circumstances such as financial crises, domestic violence, natural disasters, or other emergencies. It’s critical for those who urgently require a safe place to stay temporarily to ensure their basic need for shelter and security is met during times of acute vulnerability.

Indicators that someone may need emergency housing include eviction notices, sudden loss of income, fleeing from abusive situations, or living in hazardous environments. These circumstances can lead to immediate homelessness or exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. Prompt intervention is vital to address these challenges effectively and prevent individuals and families from falling deeper into crisis.

In the DMV area alone, there are nearly 500,000 low- and moderate-income households earning above the Federal Poverty Line that cannot afford basic necessities due to factors such as rising housing costs, job insecurity, and systemic inequalities. They are known as the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Restrained, Employed) population and are more likely to need emergency housing. The following statistics represent the percentage of ALICE renters in different locations within the DMV that are severely rent-burdened, meaning more than 50% of their income is spent on rent.

  • DC: 44% of ALICE renters are severely rent-burdened
  • Prince George County: 45% of ALICE renters are severely rent-burdened
  • Arlington County: 54% of Alice renters are severely rent-burdened
  • Fairfax County: 50% of ALICE renters are severely rent-burdened

Immediate Emergency Housing Assistance at 2-1-1

211 is a 24/7 helpline that provides vital information and referrals to various social services, including emergency housing assistance. Accessible via phone, text, or online, 211 provides confidential and comprehensive assistance to those in need. By dialing 211, individuals can connect with trained specialists who assess their situation and guide them to relevant resources tailored to their needs. These may include emergency shelters, rental assistance programs, and supportive services for homelessness prevention. 211 also provides information on other vital services like food assistance, mental health support, and employment resources.

Other Emergency Housing Resources

Finding nearby shelters is crucial for individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Shelters offer immediate refuge, safety, and support during times of crisis. To locate nearby shelters, individuals can utilize online directories, contact local homeless service organizations, or contact helplines like 211. Knowing the location and availability of shelters in their area empowers individuals to access essential resources and assistance promptly. In emergency situations, finding nearby shelters can mean the difference between having a safe place to stay and being exposed to further risks on the streets. 

Individuals can locate other resources in the DMV area with our rental assistance guide and our complete collection of community resources, which range from food support to health and wellness and housing assistance.

How United Way NCA Supports the DMV Area

United Way NCA is dedicated to offering timely, compassionate, and effective aid to individuals facing housing emergencies. We understand the urgency of these situations and are committed to providing support and resources to those in need. If you or someone you know is facing a housing crisis, we encourage you to reach out for help. Remember, emergency housing is a bridge to a more secure future.

You can support our mission by donating to United Way NCA or volunteering your time and expertise to impact the lives of those experiencing housing instability directly. Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient community where everyone can access safe and stable housing.

Our Impact

Tamra Holmes faced housing instability after the death of her daughter’s godmother, leading her to seek refuge in shelters. Despite finding temporary relief through a rehousing program, she faced challenges with an unsupportive landlord, impacting her mental health and financial stability. Seeking assistance from Project Homeless Connect, she eventually secured a new apartment and became a volunteer the following year. 

Project Homeless Connect now Project Community Connect, organized by United Way NCA, provides vital resources to those experiencing homelessness, like ID access, health screenings, legal aid, and case workers. With 40% of Americans vulnerable to financial emergencies and many in the DMV region struggling with low-wage jobs, United Way NCA and its partners address homelessness through initiatives like Project Community Connect, supported by CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, M&T Bank, WHUR, and Comcast.

To read more stories like Tamra’s, take a look at Our Impact page.

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