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What is Emergency Housing & How to Get It

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What is Emergency Housing & How to Get It

Emergency housing is a temporary accommodation for people facing crises or homelessness. Facilities offering emergency shelter assistance provide all the necessities, including a safe place to stay, food, water, and other important things.

What Does Emergency Housing Mean

Emergency housing services provide temporary shelter for families who are in danger of becoming homeless or who already find themselves without a place to live.

This type of support meets the fundamental requirements for personal hygiene, clothing, nutrition, and health for people. It might involve a requirement for people to enter into an occupancy or lease agreement.

For instance, emergency housing assistance in Pennsylvania offers a Rapid Re-Housing program. The program was designed to quickly help homeless people find permanent homes. It doesn’t require any preconditions and provides tailored services for an individual's household needs.

This assistance is beneficial if you fit any of the following categories:

  • Couch surfing
  • Sleeping on the streets
  • Being forced to leave your family home by eviction or request
  • Feeling unsafe in your current living situation

Hostels and shelters are general examples of emergency housing. Furthermore, smaller communal or religious-based organizations often assist in these situations as well.

Some homeless service providers also offer group support and counseling, and they refer clients to health, legal, and employment services. You can access all these services even if you are not residing in the shelter, as they may have daytime drop-in programs.

How You Can Get Emergency Housing Assistance

To apply for homeless assistance, contact your local Public Housing Authority (PHA). All PHAs have a daytime phone number and an emergency after-hours number. If possible, request assistance before becoming homeless.

The housing authority will either help you find temporary housing or make it possible for you to remain in your current accommodation. Anyone can request homeless assistance, but not everyone is eligible for emergency housing.

Facilities have to provide temporary housing to people who fit certain criteria. These include: meeting immigration conditions, being pregnant or having children, having a priority need, being at risk of domestic abuse, or being legally homeless.

What are Emergency Housing Vouchers

The emergency housing vouchers HUD program is available via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Five billion dollars were allocated to create this program, and the vouchers are distributed by PHAs throughout the USA.

The EHV, or Emergency Housing Voucher, offers a variety of 70,000 accommodations to individuals and families through local PHAs who are:

  • Fleeing or trying to flee
  • At the risk of homelessness
  • Homeless
  • Victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, stalking, sexual assault, or dating violence
  • Were recently homeless and undergoing housing instability

We encourage anyone who falls into any of the above categories to regularly check the EHV dashboard for updates on the issuance, leasing, and unit utilization of Emergency Housing Vouchers.

Also, make sure to check information on funding and voucher awards provided by your local PHA.

To apply for an EHV, you need to contact your local PHA, which collaborates with Continuum of Care (CoC) providers to obtain referrals. The PHA then checks for eligibility before providing the EHV.

Please note that not all PHAs have received EHV funding yet. Even if they have received the vouchers, some PHAs may not be currently accepting applications for some time.

How Long Does Emergency Housing Take

If you contact your PHA during regular working hours, they will check whether you require emergency housing that day. If they don't ask you about it, be sure to inform them of the following:

  • Whether you fall into a priority category
  • Why your situation is urgent
  • If you require emergency housing

If you reach out to the housing authority outside regular working hours, you will need to speak with an on-duty social worker or a representative in a call center. Ask to be directed to someone who manages homeless applications outside of working hours.

The facility will search for temporary accommodations within your neighborhood. However, if there are no emergency shelters in the area, the homeless service provider will offer accommodations in a different location.

And if you request help before becoming homeless, the authority will have more time to search for emergency or longer-term housing, depending on your situation.

PHA Considerations Before Providing You a Temporary Shelter

Before providing temporary shelter in another neighborhood, the facility must consider the following factors:

  • Your ability to easily reach important appointments, such as a community mental health team or a hospital
  • Commute time to your workplace
  • Your local support network and caring responsibilities
  • Potential disruptions to your children's education

If you are unable to afford transportation to a different neighborhood, the team will assist with travel expenses.

Finally, remember that emergency housing is a temporary solution to a crisis. There is always hope for finding a more stable and permanent home.



Arthur Williams

Arthur Williams

Arthur has been in real estate for over 15 years. He started his career as a real estate agent and then started investing himself. Arthur has experience navigating many different financing options, multi-family and single-family rentals, commercial real estate, and restoration projects.

April 19, 2023 (Updated April 21, 2023)

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