You’ve looked on Craigslist. You’ve asked family and friends for help. The number of days until you have to leave your home are vanishing and you’re starting to panic.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some suggestions about who to call if you’re on the verge of homelessness.
First, call 211. This is the information hotline managed by Aloha United Way for people who need housing and social services. Last year, more than 10,000 people called looking for rental payment assistance.
A homeless encampment before the Oct. 8 sweep of Kakaako Waterfront Park.
Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat
Several organizations are contracted to provide rental subsidies and other help but the amount of money they have available fluctuates. The 211 hotline has information on which organizations have money or services available at any given time.
The calls are confidential and the person who answers the phone should direct you to the organizations that are tailored to help you, says Jay King, a coordinator at Aloha United Way. He adds that some programs prioritize people based on need so it can be helpful if you can show your eviction letter from a landlord.
AUW also has an online database of organizations that can help with anything from food to caring for seniors.
David Chee, an attorney who represents landlords in evictions, recommends trying to work out a payment plan if you’ve fallen behind on rent. He says it’s important to maintain trust with landlords and be honest about when you can pay them back and how.
While looking for housing, watch out for scams. Before borrowing money, make sure you read the terms carefully. If you aren’t sure that you will get the extra cash to pay them back within the allotted time, you could be stuck in a cycle of debt.
If you’re worried you could end up on the street, make sure you have access to identification documents for you and your family, and that they’re current. Kimo Carvalho from the Institute for Human Services says that it’s important to have not one but two current forms of ID.
Consider reaching out to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority or other affordable housing complexes to see if you’re eligible for a room or Section 8 vouchers. But don’t be surprised if the wait lists are closed or the waits are extremely long.
The mayor’s Office of Housing is another place to call for assistance that could direct you to useful services. You can also walk into any homeless shelter and ask for help, or attend homeless service fairs in your neighborhood.
The National Coalition for the Homeless has a more exhaustive guide about what to do if you’re about to be homeless.
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