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Affordable Housing Guide For Winter - Part 2

Financial Assistance For Rent And Utilities
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you still can't make ends meet. If you are unable to meet the fuel bill or the rent, there are charitable organizations that can provide short-term assistance. Some of this money comes from government sources and some from non-denominational charities. To avail of this help, have proof of residence, work history or payment stubs, and contact information of your landlord or mortgage lender ready. In general, private charities can provide faster assistance, but it is likely to be for a shorter term, while government assistance projects can provide help over a longer time frame. Many of these organizations can provide vital help with utility bills, holiday gifts and meals, emergency shelter, and other needs. Again, look for the links at the end of this article.

Free Financial Help is a searchable online database of charities and government programs providing many kinds of assistance. The Red Cross, United Way, and Catholic Charities are major nationwide organizations providing a wide range of programs. Check their websites to find out what help is available in your area. The Local Independent Charities of America website is a great way to connect with smaller organizations serving only your area that may not show up on internet searches. Modest Needs is a national organization linking private donors to low-income working people who are slipping into poverty. There are also organizations who provide help with specific common problems. Free Charity Cars provides vehicles to help families that are severely handicapped by a lack of transportation, while the Gradient Gives Back Foundation provides rent assistance to families who are at risk of homelessness.

Financial Assistance For Christmas: Food And Gifts
There are many charities spreading holiday cheer by providing Christmas dinners and toys for children. You shouldn't have to choose between heating and eating, and your children should still have a Merry Christmas even if you have to scrimp to keep the rent paid. Look for local offices of Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Lions Club, or Samaritan's Purse. Angel Tree provides Christmas support specifically for children who have a parent in prison.

There are more programs available, including many local and church-based initiatives. Try searching "Christmas Assistance + your location," and see what comes up!

Emergency Food and Shelter
Sometimes everything just goes wrong, and it can happen very quickly. Accident or illness, a lost job, fire or another disaster, and a family can face homelessness. It's not just something that happens to somebody else. If it's happening to you, there are still options beyond living on the street. There are short-term and partial solutions to being homeless. Food and shelter are available through a nationwide network of food banks and homeless shelters. Food banks are repositories for excess or donated food, and homeless shelters are dormitory-like places to stay overnight. If you or your family have lost your home or your home is unsafe during a major storm, these last recourse services may be the key to keeping your family alive and getting back on your feet.

Most of the USA has access to the 211 hotline system, a 24/7 resource connecting families and individuals with emergency needs to sources of assistance. Just dial 211; the service is multilingual. Shelterlistings.org and Homelesssheleterdirectory.org provide nationwide directories of homeless shelters, and Feedingamerica.org has a database of food banks. The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development also maintains a homelessness assistance site.

These services are temporary life rafts to keep you alive through the worst situations. Don't hesitate to use them; they are designed to help people like you, and they can give you an opportunity to get your life back together after a rough period. There are other options and programs to get you back into a home. You can ask the staff at the 211 hotline about how to do this.

Conclusion
Surviving the winter months with their heating bills, Christmas costs, frigid temperatures and deadly storms can be a challenge. Whether you just need to fortify your home from the cold and damp or you need to find basic food and shelter, there is help out there to assist you. Sometimes, all that stands between us and homelessness is the aid of a charitable group. Should the worst happen and you lose your home, food and shelter are still available, and you can still find a way back to a secure home. There are good people and organizations out there that can help.

Resource Links
Weatherization Assistance Program
LIHEAP
Free Financial Help
Red Cross
United Way
Catholic Charities
Local Independent Charities of America
Modest Needs
Free Charity Cars
Gradient Gives Back Foundation
Toys For Tots
Lions Club
Samaritan's Purse
Angel Tree
Shelterlistings.org
Homelessshelterdirectory.org
Feedingamerica.org
HUD Homelessness Assistance