How to Get Rental & Utility Assistance If Unemployed

Public and private organizations are available to help people struggling to pay for rent and utilities because of unemployment. The level of support available can vary, but don't expect an organization to step in and start making direct payments to your landlord or utility company. You are more likely to be offered short-term assistance with your utility bill or alternate housing if you simply no longer can afford your apartment and are on the verge of homelessness.


Step 1

Apply for unemployment benefits if you have not already done so. Applying for benefits can help establish that you really are unemployed. Proof of unemployment may be necessary for receiving assistance with your rent or utilities. Apply for unemployment benefits by contacting a local office for your state's unemployment commission.


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Step 2

Contact charitable organizations in your city such as local chapters of the Salvation Army, Urban League or United Way. The organizations know about all local resources for help with rent and utilities while unemployed and provide a perfect starting point as you look for assistance. Describe your situation when you call the charity by simply stating that you are unemployed and need help with rent and utilities.


Step 3

Ask the charitable organizations for options to avoid homelessness in the event that you are evicted from your apartment. Options range from low-cost public housing that may be available for less than what you are paying for your current apartment or rental home. You may qualify for temporary public housing based on the amount of your unemployment compensation, for example. Temporary housing may also be available for free at a local shelter.


Step 4

Request information from the charities about places of worship that may be willing to help. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for cash donations to help with your rent and utilities. Your chances for receiving help from churches and other places of worship may be greater if you are unemployed with small children and facing homelessness.


Step 5

Call your local utility company to ask for help. Most utility companies have programs for helping people facing hardships. For example, the Orlando (Florida) Utilities Commission was offering a program called Project Care. People approved for the program are eligible for up to $500 a year to help pay for utilities. Call the customer service number on your billing statement to ask for help from your utility company.