Thursday, October 7, 2010

50 Resources If You are Flat Broke, Jobless, Homeless, Etc.

This post has been updated in 2014 to include many more (and more updated) resources.  Find it here.

I was thinking about writing this post, thinking about all of the many resources that are available for those in need, then thought maybe I would write about something else. Then, just as I was signing onto Blogger, I came across this article in my feed reader which inspired me to write about my original topic. Obviously I don't write as well as this guy or have his experience but these 50 resources may help (and note that the article was written in the 1970s but many of the resources are just as viable today...interesting!).
  1. If you or your spouse have served any time at all in the Armed Forces, check with your local VA service center to see what benefits you are entitled to.

  2. Our city has free meal sites all over town, each day of the week. Most places that help the homeless will have an updated list of these meal sites.

  3. The Salvation Army is great. They offer two meals each day (breakfast and lunch) and provide food to go, toiletries, and other things for those in need.

  4. Call 211--this is a national number which provides information on all of the social service resources available in your community.

  5. Sign up for food stamps if you qualify. Many do, even if they are working part time. It doesn't hurt to ask.

  6. Sign up for public housing or emergency housing if you qualify. Unfortunately, there is such a huge need for this service that many housing programs have years-long waiting lists.

  7. Sign up for welfare if you qualify. Generally this is for parents with children but there may be medical programs and other services that anyone with low/no income can qualify for.

  8. If you are a senior citizen, check out what services you qualify for (ie: Social Security, Medicare, etc).

  9. Take advantage of other senior deals (discounted national parks passes, discounted bus passes, discounted airline tickets, restaurant discounts, etc).

  10. Ditch the car and get a transit pass. These are often discounted for those with low/no income.

  11. Check out your local Goodwill--they have everything from free job training programs to low income assistance programs and good discount shopping in their stores as well.

  12. Dollar Stores are a great place to shop for everything from food to toiletries--just choose nutritious food instead of the super low-priced junk food.

  13. Thrift stores are another great place to shop. They usually have low prices but on certain days, they have sales and their low prices may be cut in half!

  14. Our local library is like Grand Central for the homeless. Not only does it provide shelter on cold, rainy days, but with a free library card, you get free books to read, free use of computers and internet, free music, free newspapers, free videos, etc.

  15. Dumpster diving is a tried and true way to find stuff you need. It pays to go with an experienced diver the first few times because they will know where the good dumpsters are, where to find the best food, which ones to stay away from, etc.

  16. College students should definitely check and see if their school has a homeless services office. Many schools are now aware that some of their students are homeless and they try to provide as many extra services as possible for these students, usually through a designated office or club.

  17. Check with your local health department. They generally offer everything from free vaccinations and basic medical tests to other services.

  18. Check with your local mental health services office. This is another organization that deals with a lot of homeless/low income people as mental health issues can often go hand in hand with reasons that people become homeless.

  19. If you are a member of a federally enrolled tribe, your tribal health clinic or tribal liaison office can help you sign up for the benefits you are entitled to.

  20. Free community events are a great place to score some free entertainment as well as get free stuff (vendors usually provide samples and free advertising stuff like t shirts at these events).

  21. Free food samples are always good. If you have a Costco or Sam's Club card, running around the food aisles a couple of times can practically provide a free meals just from the food samples.

  22. Many communities have programs that help you pay for your heat and utilities during the winter. Check with your local social services office about these programs or with your local utility office.

  23. Medical care can be super expensive. Free community medical clinics are a good first place to go. If you don't have one of those, a sliding scale clinic is the next step, and then maybe an urgent care. Emergency rooms of hospitals are required to provide you service in the event of an emergency (but be prepared for the huge bill you get in the mail afterwards...should this happen, ask about the hospital's charity care program).

  24. Look for opportunities. Like the guy in the article, he saw a need then filled it (selling cigarettes, selling photos). If you see a need, think about what you can do to fill the need and make a little money in the process.

  25. Crash weddings, parties, and meetings. The food at these events can range from minimal to awesome.

  26. Malls are another location to pick up free stuff on occasion. Our mall hosts various events throughout the year that feature free entertainment and free vendor samples. Additionally, our mall has a marketing research company which pays people for their opinions on consumer products. For about 10 minutes of my time I have often received $7--enough to pay for my frap at Starbucks.

  27. When it comes to getting a minimum wage job, find one with benefits, even if it is just at a restaurant where you get free meals (I lived off of free meals at restaurant jobs all through college).

  28. You could try dating. This probably only works well for women but a friend of mine has met so many dates online and they almost always meet her for coffee or take her out for dinner. I don't think she has paid for dinner in like a year.

  29. Look online for free stuff. Freecycle and CraigsList are great places to look for free stuff.

  30. Consider a trade. Trade your handyman or manager services for free apartment rent, or trade some work at a restaurant or venue when they have a big event for free meals. Living in as a babysitter or senior care taker is also a great way to secure housing by trading work.

  31. Get a monthly pass for the local gym or YMCA/YWCA if you are homeless, this is a great way to get a free shower every day.

  32. If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, call your local YWCA or DV shelter and find out about their free shelter programs and other services available to domestic violence victims.

  33. Do a good deed. Sometimes, doing something as simple as helping a stranger can result in an amazing payback.

  34. Get a PO Box. For a minimal annual fee, you will at least have a place to get your mail. For some things you need a street address, in this case you may want to check into getting a private mailbox.

  35. A prepaid cell phone (like Virgin Mobile's $25 per month plan) will at least keep you in touch with people and possible job prospects. Note that some phone companies offer highly discounted home and cell phones for low income people.

  36. Check with your local fire department for everything from free smoke detectors to free car seats for your kids, to free CPR classes, to free grab bars for the elderly. Not all fire departments offer these things but many in our area do.

  37. If you are homeless, find out where your severe weather shelters are; many of these places offer free overnight lodging for the homeless when he weather is severely cold.

  38. If you have been made homeless due to a declared disaster, FEMA's disaster assistance programs have a range of services that you can partake in.

  39. Homeless shelters are available in most cities; this is one option for shelter that some people take advantage of (others don't seem to like shelters so you would have to see for yourself if this is a good option for you).

  40. Many cities have specialized homeless youth service centers; this is an excellent option for those under 21 who are homeless.

  41. You could join the military. Once you are in, they literally take care of everything for you--housing, shelter, food, training, clothing, dental, etc.

  42. If you are facing eviction, some community service agencies can help with this. They can alert your to your rights in this situation, sometimes provide emergency cash assistance to pay back rent, and other times file for stays of eviction until further help can be provided.

  43. If you are in legal trouble, there are a number of free and low cost legal services available. Everything from free legal advice 1-800 numbers to free legal clinics, to "do it yourself" legal forms and classes, to community service programs to pay off tickets can be had by asking at your local courthouse.

  44. If drug and alcohol issues are the reason your find yourself in need, many communities offer in-patient and out-patient drug and alcohol treatment services.

  45. If you are recently jobless, check to see if you qualify for unemployment payments, job retraining program, or any other programs related to your being unemployed.

  46. College can be another great idea. Depending on your income, test scores, or grades, qualifying for grants and scholarships can give you a college education and housing. Beware student loans, however, which can saddle you with debt for decades.

  47. Consider an easy to set up online business to take in some cash. With so many free platforms for selling your stuff online, the possibilities are endless. One girl was reported to have sold her used underwear online and this raked in enough to pay for her entire college education (sounds icky but I guess there is a big market for this).

  48. Some cities have drop in centers which provide all kinds of services for the homeless from showers to a place to do their laundry to meals and assistance with securing other services.

  49. Consider hunting down your own food. Depending on the season, you can fish, hunt, forage for wild berries and fruit, find wild mushrooms, etc.

  50. Stand by the side of the road and hold a sign asking for money. Sounds tacky but this has nearly become a cottage industry in our area and I've heard that some people can take in more per hour doing this than getting a job (I wouldn't suggest this as a life-long career but if you are flat broke and desperate this may be an option).


  1. nice post but have you ever been homeless, jobless and broke? You can forget about a $25 phone, A job? Wait until you have to wear the same dirty clothes over and over, bathing at the river or lake only gets you so clean, good luck shaving. Without help your life quicksands extremely fast, most people start to give up...

    1. its terrible once you get to the point of being homeless an very tricky to get out of, my wife kicked me out in the streets an forge my signature on the paperwork an I jus got served a the final paperwork an only been out of the house for a week, its a very draining mentally, I dont know what the hell im gunna do, I see why people go to crime cause its going through my mind in serious way.freaked out right now!

    2. Now this is exactly what kind of situation I'm in at the moment.....and all of the people that say they love you & are there for you?....aren't here....and keep giving advice with hopes it all works out for you ...

    3. Luckily, I just got a job, but now because we're wasting money on hotels that average $350 per week, food, diapers, and things like toiletries and doing laundry, there's no way we're going to be able to save any money for housing. My husband pays child support, and now I'm being summoned to court to pay child support by my ex. I have 2 kids and one on the way. We went homeless because our landlord was money-hungry. No one can get ahead, and it seems like the middle class (now the working poor) is purposely being picked off so the rich can get richer. And the rich got 4% more rich in 2012 while the poor went more poor by 28%. Just doesn't add up. You get hit by the recession, lose your job, have to survive on credit cards, and can't pay them back, then you get called worthless. What does one do? Very confusing, and I give up.

  2. this was amazing and well thought of and put together. I'm currently homeless, but your 50 well to do calculated steps burst a surge of energy in me like no other..!! kudos and thanks for keeping it light and simplified and not a degrade to homeless people, like me...

    1. Right? One thing I know for this can happen to anyone at anytime.

  3. Yes it does and can... ive been through it and going through it now...criminal record for basically drinking and no drivers lisence lost my prestigious career no vehicle anymore no home no girlfriend lost all my animals lost my place it goes on and on no clothes no family there shit but this cellphone its been like this for a year and no end in sight but I know as fast as things can go down they can go up. But when will that be who knows.

  4. I was sick last year and hospitalized twice and had surgery so I blew through most of my savings. I am almost 48 (female) I lost my job because I wouldnt be dishonest and falsify stuff. no recourse no money no lawyer no free legal aid... lost my home lost everything and stand to lose my belongings. Im homeless, jobless, incomeless and get $189 food stamps a month. I have three college degrees with lots of debt for them but no job to show for them. Family and friends are oblivious to things and I live in someones basement which I am thankful for. THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE especially because of corporate bullying and dishonest people. Rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I know if I EVERY get to a place when I can start anything for other people so others don't face this humiliation and hopelessness I will.

  5. I was born into poverty when i turned 18 i truly became homelss. I took the oprotunity to learn and to see the country i hitchhiked and backpacked from coast to coast. My family and "Friends" like one gentlman said before in a previose coment have been no help at all the give advice and hope it works out for you. I have no crimanel record and spent a year and a half in the Army only to get seperated for Spina Bifida Acolta, Gov telle me there is no help for me that i dont even qual for food stamps or medacaid. I have no income no food no address and no one to turn too. I have exausted every possable resource that is suppose to be available to someone in my situation and have been turned down every time. I have tryed starting my own bis but without a working capitol that is impossable. So what is some one in my situation suppose to do?

    1. I'm starting to think the society is not broken. I'm beginning to realize its working exactly the way it's meant to: A massive human pyramid, raising the all-too-often self-proclaimed exceptional few to prosperity, while the working poor do all the lifting, and those at the bottom, there by either mistake or bad luck, get crushed into paste. This is by design.

  6. ummm. this is america. theres tons of ways to make money. take from the rich and give to poor. rob somebody if u have to. please there are 3rd world countries where people live in houses made out of mud that complains less.go get food stamps and welfare. there are homeless shelters everywhere. there are tons of communites that help the homeless. fuck the system do what u want. do u really wanna work a 3rd of your life away

  7. I am just looking for some kind of help. I need a program or something that i could go to that can help me. It looks to me like there is no help out there and i am getting tired. I work hard in my life and this government took a lot of taxes and now i can't get no help. This does not help any persons who are marred and are 55 an 56 years of age. We need real help.

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  13. I have copd . i applied for tnaf for my 2 boys never had it for them i got turned down school age kids and then my Dr said my cood so. Bad i know i cant make it to my mailbox. . i applied for ssi in may its july . school in August. What can i do next ?

  14. We're going down the tubes financially. Borrowed $ from a relative to pay our property taxes, but also have car registration coming up. I don't want to even think about Christmas and holidays. I'm working doing house cleaning 2 times a week, I make about 80 dollars or 160 when I do both people's houses, but this is just paying for groceries and gas. We don't do food stamps, husband doesn't want to ask for any assistance from the government. My husband has been looking for gigs and any work for a year, they won't hire him because he's "too old", and he's not old enough for social security yet. We live in the boonies so there aren't any real services out here. He had a business but the orders dried up, so he was trying to get a job or any gig job for doing metal lathe work, but nothing around here. We aren't as bad off as many of the poor people that are posting on the board, but we're running out of $. I feel bad for anyone who loses their place and becomes homeless, I wish there was a solution to all of this, jobs are very hard to come by. I prayed to God to help me find a job and I got two people to clean for. I'm praying to get more work so we can keep above water, so my husband can afford a chain saw so maybe he can get work or at least cut wood for this winter, since we heat with a woodstove. We are lucky because when we both had jobs we paid off our loans for the place we bought, and don't have other loans, but the property taxes are killing us, we are down to bare bones, we only have internet/phone and electricity bills, then taxes and car insurance and food and gas.

    One place that you can find some good FREE clothes and shoes (and maybe get some money or rental assistance or help) are Church clothing giveaways. Most have them once a week or once a month, and they have all sorts of stuff there, even toys for the kids. Some churches have food pantries where you don't have to pay any money at all. Depends on the church. But that's one way to go if you have absolutely no money.