Jul 05, 2023
Many people across the U.S., including felons, struggle to find, afford and keep safe, reliable housing.
Although worrying about such a basic need can cause significant stress and hardship, don’t get discouraged. You’re not alone in this.
There are excellent resources available to assist individuals and families in need. The 211 Help organization is one of them.
How Can 211 Help With Housing?
The primary goal of 211 agencies across the U.S. is to connect people in need to resources that usually contain solutions to their problems. In the case of housing, these resources refer to local housing programs and services.
Individuals who have access to the internet (and are tech-savvy enough) can find all the relevant information on the 211 website. With many state-specific websites, finding valuable local resources only takes a few clicks.
However, the sheer amount of information presented on the websites can be enough to overwhelm anyone. If you get confused, lost, or simply prefer direct communication, call the 211 helpline instead.
By dialing 2-1-1, you will reach a local, highly-trained community specialist who can help you navigate these extensive resources and take on your housing challenges.
All you have to do is answer a few questions about your current situation:
-Where are you living?
-Do you have an income?
-Do you have any dependents?
After that, the 211 staff will take it from there.
Did you know? 211 is one of the eight three-digit dialing codes used under the North American Numbering Plan for special services. However, 911 is probably the most well-known member of this exclusive club.
Meanwhile, 211 agencies can help you in a wide range of situations, such as looking for affordable housing, facing homelessness or eviction, requiring help with mortgage or rent payments and seeking emergency shelters, to name a few.
You can find more details on these resources below, but keep in mind that the exact list will depend on your state and county.
Landlord Issues that 211 Help Resolve
Suppose your landlord is threatening to evict you from your home or rental property. In that case, 211 can point you to eviction prevention programs.
These programs will try to prevent eviction and shield you from potential homelessness. To achieve this, they’ll usually try to negotiate a compromise between you and the landlord.
Sometimes, the landlord may not be within their rights to evict you. If that’s the case, 211 will help inform you about your local laws concerning eviction. Knowing your rights will help you fight any wrongful ejections.
211 Payment Assistance for Housing
If you have trouble paying rent, 211 specialists will encourage you to talk to your landlord or property manager first. They might be able to offer you a payment plan or a similar option that will help you stay in your home.
However, 211 can help you more directly by referring you to local organizations that might be able to provide financial assistance with rent. The same goes for security deposits on new units and mortgage payments.
Home Purchase and Rental
Purchasing a home can seem like a pipe dream for many people. But many assistance programs can help first-time buyers during this formidable undertaking.
These programs might assist you with a down payment, a lower-interest loan, or discounts on mortgage insurance that can turn the dream of owning a home into reality.
The staff at the 211 helpline can support you with finding these programs.
When it comes to renting a home, 211 can help you with something as simple as finding local apartment listings to more challenging endeavors like finding supportive housing tailored to your needs.
The supportive housing in question includes the following:
-Homeless permanent supportive housing – For individuals or families experiencing long-term homelessness
-Older adult supportive housing – For older adults unable to function independently
-Disability-related supportive housing – For people whose disabilities prevent them from functioning in an independent living environment
Contacting 211 can also help you gain access to subsidized housing.
The first step is connecting you to the county, city, or state housing officials who can inform you about vacancies in subsidized properties and your eligibility for them. In most cases, you’ll either receive Section 8 vouchers or accommodation in public housing units.
Did you know? Section 8 is a federally-supported housing program that provides income-eligible families with vouchers to lease privately owned properties. For this program to work, the landlord must agree to enter into a contract with the local housing authority.
There is also Emergency Section 8 housing options for eligible individuals and families.
Public housing units are usually rented to low-income families, people with disabilities, and older adults.
The eligibility requirements and payment obligations for these units vary from state to state, so talking to 211 and local housing authorities directly can provide valuable information and guidance.
Emergency Housing and Shelters
Emergency housing and shelters can help individuals who are suddenly homeless or need immediate temporary accommodation away from their homes. Call 211, and you’ll find out the location of the closest shelters matching your needs.
Since there are many different predicaments a person can find themselves in, there are also numerous types of emergency shelters.
Community shelters – Dormitory-style facilities for homeless people
Crisis nurseries – Childcare homes for infants and children experiencing abuse or neglect
Domestic violence shelters – Facilities for individuals who have experienced domestic violence or abuse
Extreme weather shelters – Overnight accommodation for people made vulnerable by extreme heat or cold
Maternity homes – Shelters for pregnant women unable to stay in their homes
Youth centers – Facilities for younger individuals experiencing homelessness (or at risk of becoming homeless)
Homeless drop-in centers – Centers where homeless individuals can spend time during the day (or evening)
Besides finding emergency shelters, 211 can help homeless people find programs that offer more permanent solutions.
For instance, homeless diversion programs can help people who’ve recently become homeless find alternative housing arrangements or go into a shared housing unit.
If a rapid solution can’t be found, your local specialist might suggest transitional homes that allow residents to stay longer until they’re back on their feet and find permanent housing.
Home Improvement With 211 Help With Housing
Suppose you own a home and aren’t at risk of losing it. Does that mean 211 can’t be of help? Absolutely not! The services supplied by 211 can also help income-eligible homeowners improve their living conditions significantly.
Depending on your needs and the available local services, you might be able to get your home up to the building code, perform minor repairs, or even revitalize your property altogether.
Since the last undertaking is also the biggest, you’ll have more options when it comes to it. You might be eligible for a home rehabilitation grant or loan.
Or, the help you receive can be more practical in the form of free labor or building materials.
Housing Help at Your Fingertips
The 211 helplines around the country have made over five million connections to housing insecurity-related resources in 2019 alone. This should tell you two things: these agencies are excellent at their jobs, and many people are experiencing (or have experienced) similar hardships.
So, don’t feel afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. The professionals working for 211 will have nothing but compassion for your current situation and a determination to help you get out of it as quickly as possible.