6 Charitable Resources to Use When You Can’t Cover the Basics

emergency housing

Between student loans, living expenses, and other necessities, making ends meet can be difficult.

When you’re struggling to pay the bills and keep food in the fridge, advice about saving money by cutting out lattes or limiting shopping trips isn’t just unrealistic — it’s disheartening.

Personal crisis is a common problem

If you struggle to afford basic needs such as housing and food, you’re far from alone. According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet. The problem isn’t limited to families; it also affects college students and recent graduates.

As college costs continue to rise, more and more young people are facing hunger and homelessness. A staggering 20 percent of students report going hungry and 13 percent are homeless, according to a Wisconsin Hope Lab survey. Some universities are opening up emergency housing facilities and food banks to try to address the need.

If you’re having trouble affording essentials or are going through a personal crisis, know that help is out there. Whether you need emergency housing, medical attention, or clothes for work, these six resources can get you back on your feet.

1. Catholic Charities

With over 160 different agencies in the country, Catholic Charities works to end poverty and help individuals, regardless of their religion.

The organization offers community food banks and serves meals at soup kitchens. They also provide food for children who need a meal after school hours, including on weekends or during the summer.

For families trying to manage a strict grocery budget, they offer cooking classes and educational programs to help you maximize every dollar.

If you’re in danger of losing your home and becoming homeless, they even provide emergency housing assistance through one-time financial aid to pay your rent or mortgage. If that’s not an option in your situation, they can connect you to housing options in your area.

To get assistance, visit the Catholic Charities website to find an agency near you.

2. Free Charity Cars

For many people, transportation is a major issue. Particularly for those in suburban or rural areas, public transportation may not be an option. Not having access to a train or bus line can limit employment opportunities, reducing your earning potential.

Free Charity Cars strives to address this issue by providing free cars to people on the path to self-sufficiency. By getting a car free of charge, the hope is that individuals will be able to better access jobs and other resources.

To find out more or to apply for a car, visit the Free Charity Cars website.

3. Gradient Gives Back Community Outreach Program

The Gradient Gives Back Community Outreach Program aims to help poor and distressed Americans at risk of losing their homes.

Whether you own your home or are renting, the organization provides mortgage payment or lease assistance by making payments for you. While they are based in Minnesota, they assist families nationwide.

For more information or to apply, visit the Gradient Gives Back Foundation website.

4. The Modest Needs Grant

Unlike many charities, Modest Needs tries to prevent financial disasters by helping families before they become homeless. They focus on those who are just one or two paychecks away from an emergency.

The organization provides short-term financial assistance to those in a temporary crisis, such as a sudden job loss or big medical bill. Many recipients are ineligible for aid from other organizations because they are technically above the poverty line but are still on the brink of losing everything.

Modest Needs offers self-sufficiency grants to help give you a hand. They give particular consideration to single persons, public school teachers, and first responders struggling to make ends meet.

If you’re unable to pay rent this month because of an unexpected car repair or you’re worried about paying the utilities because you have a hospital bill, this grant can help.

For more information or to apply, visit Modest Needs’ website.

5. NetWish

NetWish is a nonprofit focused on paying it forward. Individuals provide help to others by granting small “wishes” or requests for help that cost $200 or less. The charity will send gift cards to recipients to help them pay for rent, utilities, medical bills, or to buy clothes for a job interview.

While the amounts are relatively small, $200 can be enough to buy groceries for a month, keep the power on, buy school textbooks, or put gas in your car. It can be an important safety net in an emergency.

To submit a request, visit NetWish and click on “Make a NetWish.”

6. United Way 211

The United Way 211 Information and Assistance Helpline is a free and confidential service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling, emailing, or texting 2-1-1, you can get connected to local resources to help you through a crisis.

Whether you need emergency food stamps, housing, medical aid, or are a victim of domestic abuse, 211 can help you find services in your area.

You can find out more information or get help at 211.org.

Asking for help is worth it

When you’re struggling to keep your head above water, asking for help can be scary. But these organizations exist to give people like you a helping hand. By reaching out for assistance, you can stabilize your situation and be on the path to a more secure future.

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