How to Get Help Paying Rent If You Lose a Job or Get Laid Off

If you're fired, emergency assistance programs can help you pay your next rent bill.
Image Credit: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

Losing your job is tough enough because of the big hit your morale takes. But once you start reviewing your financial situation, the job loss can hit you even harder if you realize that you don't have the money to pay next month's rent. If you lose your job, a few options are likely available to help ensure you keep a roof over your head.

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Government-Administered Assistance Programs

Many government agencies offer rental assistance programs for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The West Central Wisconsin Community Action Program, for example, offers one-time rental assistance along with a transitional program that includes rental assistance, in-home evaluation and reaching financial goals. Also in Texas, the West Central Texas Aging and Disability Resource Center provides temporary rent assistance to veterans. New York City offers an eviction prevention program that gives one-time $1,000 grants to people in need who call the hotline. The local office of your state's department of social services may be a good first contact to learn about such programs in your area.

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Apply to Recognized Charities and Other Specialized Groups

Recognized charities may provide emergency rental help. The Salvation Army, for example, offers emergency rental assistance, but you must call for specific information. Gradient Gives Back offers a full year of rental payments to two families per year. The Christian Connection in Texas offers emergency rental assistance to residents of Bedford and Euless. The United Way for your area may be able to steer you toward similar programs, and a ministerial association in your locality may be able to refer you to a church that provides help.

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File for Unemployment Immediately

Don't waste any time filing for unemployment. The sooner you start the sooner you can get money to help pay the rent. In order to qualify, typically you must have lost your job through no fault of your own. So if you were fired for failing to meet your requirements or if you left the job of your own volition, you might not qualify. You must also have worked a specific amount of time, often full time for a year. The exact requirements vary from state to state. You can typically apply online with your state's unemployment office.

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Look Into Emergency Cash Reserves

If you have an emergency cash reserve, now might be the time to use it. A regular savings account should be used first, but you might also have to take money out of a 401(k) or similar retirement account. However, remember that removing money early from these recounts often results in a 10 percent tax bill on top of your income tax. Exhaust all other possibilities -- including a short-term job -- to temporarily meet your rental needs before withdrawing funds from such accounts.

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Be Honest with Friends and Family

You might feel embarrassed about losing your job, but that shouldn't stop you from being honest with your family and friends about your situation. Many people have been in the same circumstances and you'd be surprised by who can relate. You'll need the emotional support of your family and friends during this tough time. In addition, you never know who might want to give you or lend you money temporarily to help you until you can find a new job. Don't take advantage of anyone, but don't be too proud to accept help if it's offered to you.

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