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Moving is expensive. Even if you decide not to hire a full-service moving company you still have to set aside some of your budget for things like packing supplies and transportation costs. Depending on your situation, you may also need additional funds to accommodate storage, time off of work, and the various costs of moving to a new house or apartment. Fortunately, if you’re in a tough financial spot you may qualify for a low-income moving assistance program through various local organizations or national charities.

Emergency moving assistance programs help individuals and families bridge the financial gap of moving expenses. In some cases, they may cover 100% of your moving fees. Others offer grants that can provide you with partial or full financial assistance.

If you need moving assistance, here’s where to start your search. We also include some quick tips on reducing your moving costs.

Moving assistance

One of the first places to get help with moving expenses is local and national charities and grant organizations. There are quite a few that offer moving cost support and that may be able to assist you in your relocation.

  1. Modest Needs

    Modest Needs, which was founded in 2002, offers one-time self-sufficiency grants of $750 to $1,250 on average to those who are working and living just above the poverty level. These no-strings-attached grants can be used for a variety of different things, though because they are paid out to service providers and vendors instead of families themselves you’ll need to have a direct place you’d like the grant to go — for example, toward a moving truck rental.

    How to apply: It’s free to apply for a grant. Visit ModestNeeds.org to learn more and fill out an application, and check out the information on grant types and eligibility requirements.

  2. The YWCA

    This women- and minority-focused organization offers a variety of housing-related assistance programs, including transitional services that can offer help with moving expenses. Locate your nearest YWCA program and reach out to to see what services may be available to you.

    How to apply: Go to YWCA.org for more information, or call the organization’s national hotline at (202) 467-0801.

  3. Catholic Charities

    Catholic Charities provides a number of needs-based assistance programs for families. This includes emergency moving assistance for those who qualify, particularly people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. If the cost of moving is what’s standing between you and stable housing, they may be able to help.

    How to apply: Visit CatholicCharities.org to find your local chapter and apply for low-income moving assistance.

  4. Housing Industry Foundation’s Emergency Housing Fund

    The Housing Industry Foundation’s (HIF) Emergency Housing Fund offers one-time grants of up to $2,500 to eligible applicants who need support in housing relocation. They process grants quickly (usually within just 24 hours); however, applications are only accepted on a referral basis so start the process early just in case.

    How to apply: Visit HIFinfo.org for more information and to learn about available programs and the Emergency Housing Fund application process.

  5. 211

    While not a funding organization itself, 211 is a free national hotline that connects those in need with community services that can help. If you’re looking for assistance with moving- and/or housing-related expenses, call the hotline to find out exactly what type of support may be available to you and what next steps you’ll need to take.

    How to apply: You do not need to apply for assistance from 211. Instead, simply call 211 on your phone or visit 211.org.

  6. VA housing assistance

    Veterans in need of low-income moving assistance can reach out to the VA Housing Assistance program, which in addition to offering low-interest homes and refinancing loans also offers financial support to those in need of transitional housing expenses.

    How to apply: Head to VA.gov/housing-assistance for more information or call the free, 24/7 National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID VET (877-424-3838).

  7. Salvation Army

    The Salvation Army housing assistance includes shelters, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing. In cities where the organization doesn’t have any shelters, it covers the cost of partner shelters. Salvation Army’s transitional housing programs include food, lodging in temporary shelters, and other resources and support needed to regain stability. The Salvation Army’s long-term housing services range from affordable housing programs for low-income seniors to apartment assistance for families.

    How to apply: Put in your zip code on the Salvation Army housing page to drill down to the local branches’ contact information and the services they offer. You can also fill out the contact form or call 800-SAL-ARMY (800-725-2769).

  8. HUD housing and rental assistance

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a wealth of resources through its several programs, including public housing and rental assistance for both public housing and privately owned apartments with reduced rent.

    Housing Choice Voucher

    You might also qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program through which you can choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program, be it a single-family home, townhouse or apartment. The program pays the housing subsidy directly to the landlord. The HCV homeownership program allows families to use their vouchers to buy a home and receive monthly assistance for the homeownership.

    FHA Mortgage

    Another option is to get a mortgage loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD. The FHA insures the loan, so your lender can offer you a better deal. Other perks include low down payments and closing costs. First-time homeowners can get a down payment as low as 3.5% of the home purchase price.

    The FHA Reverse Mortgage program offers financial help for seniors 62 years old and older who are homeowners. Homeownership for Public housing Residents program public housing residents become homeowners. And the Good Neighbor Next Door program discount of 50% from the list price of the single-family homes located in revitalization areas and listed through the program. The program is for law enforcement officers, teachers (P-K through 12) firefighters and emergency medical technicians, who all contribute to community revitalization. Eligible buyers must commit to living in the home for three years.

    How to apply: You can visit the program pages on the HDU site by clicking on the links above and learning more about eligibility and how to apply. For questions about FHA loans or programs, contact HUD’s FHA Resource Center or call (800) CALL-FHA (800-225-5342).

    For questions about HUD rental programs, contact HUD’s Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Resource Center or call (800) 955-2232. You can also find information on all programs operated by the PIH at the PIH Customer Service Center, or call (800) 569-4287.

    To participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door program, check the listings for your state and follow the instructions on the program’s site. The property listings change weekly. And you must meet eligibility requirements.

    In addition to the federal rental assistance, homeownership and home-buying assistance programs, there may be HUD-related programs offered by your state or local government. Look them up by state.

  9. The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program

    Under the HUD’s umbrella, the government allocates funds to states and organizations that help reduce homelessness. The ESG program includes street outreach, emergency shelters, housing relocation and short- and medium-term rental assistance.

    How to apply: Check out the ESG resources page on the Hub Exchange site and the list of the ESG grant recipients, including their contact information, by state.

  10. Federal Relocation Assistance Program

    The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) provides funding through the Federal Relocation Assistance Program. If you had to move because your home was a presidentially declared disaster, you can get moving assistance, as well as disaster-caused childcare needs, disaster medical expenses, home repairs and replacement, cleanup, and temporary housing. Before you can receive the funds, a FEMA representative will conduct a home inspection to determine the scope of damage to estimate the amount of damage.

    How to apply: Start at DisasterAssistance.gov by entering your city and zip code to see if your area has been declared qualified for assistance. You’ll need to choose the occurred disaster from the list (hurricane Ida, for example) and list the damage to your home. Keep all receipts and paperwork as proof. Once you create an account, this is where you can check your status, upload the documents FEMA will ask for, and so on.

    You can also apply by calling FEMA at (800) 621-3362. If you need an emergency shelter due to the disaster, use the FEMA mobile app. You can also use it to get weather alerts, register for assistance online, and more.

  11. Travelers Aid Society

    Travelers Aid Society started in the 1880s in several major U.S. cities. Since then it has expanded its services outreach and membership. Travelers Aid Society assists with transportation, housing, food and job training in an effort to eradicate homelessness. The organization offers permanent subsidized housing to those who qualify.

    How to apply: Start with the member listings, click on your state, and get contact information and a list of services offered in your state.

  12. Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

    The Office of Community Services/An Office of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers these grants. The ACF helps with finding housing, buying a home, paying for the utilities, and help with rent.

    How to apply: Visit the CSBG contact info page to find your state CSBG Program Official or state CSBG Program Contact.

  13. The IRS moving expenses deduction for military families

    If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and have to move following a military order, you can deduct your moving expenses from your income and won’t have to pay a tax on them. This applies to the international moves as well.

    How to apply: You do not need any additional paperwork. Just claim all allowable expenses on your federal tax return. You can use Form 3903, Moving Expenses, to figure out your moving expense deduction. (Don’t forget to save all move-related receipts.)

  14. Administration for Community Living (ACL) grants

    ACL awards grants to states and organizations that provide services and support for older adults and people living with disabilities. Those, in turn, offer subsidized housing and individual grants with those funds, among other services.

    How to apply: You can’t apply directly to the ACL, since it gives money to organizations, not individuals, but you can learn about different types of help available using the USA.gov list of government resources related to financial assistance and support services for people living with disabilities.

  15. USDA’s Rural Housing Service

    The Rural Housing Program offers loans, grants and loan guarantees for single- and multi-family housing, housing for farm laborers, and much more, with a focus on rural communities.

    How to apply: Start with the program’s resource page to learn more, or call (800) 414-1226. Determine eligibility, get forms and find an office in your state at these links.

  16. Real Estate Acquisition and Relocation program

    The HUD-funded Real Estate Acquisition and Relocation program provides assistance for people affected by the acquisition, rehabilitation or demolition of real property for federal or federally funded projects. It’s pretty uncommon and specific, but we’re trying to cover all the available resources.

    How to apply: Start by finding the program’s Regional Relocation Specialist near you.

Other ways to get help with moving costs

These aren’t your only options when you need emergency moving assistance. There are quite a number of local and state programs as well that offer help with moving costs, and there are even some moving companies that offer free public assistance/HRA moving programs for those who qualify.

Contact your county government

Even if they are not able to help with moving expenses directly, your county government is a great resource for connecting you with programs that can. Ask about moving assistance programs that may be available, keeping in mind that you may need to provide specifics around what exactly you need help paying for and how much assistance you need.

Call your local religious organizations 

Many churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious centers set aside charitable funds for helping those in the community. And like many of the other organizations and departments mentioned on this page, if they’re not able to assist you directly with moving expenses they may be able to connect you with someone who can.

Research local moving companies

Some moving companies — particularly those that specialize in eviction services — offer public assistance/HRA moving programs that provide those who qualify with no-cost moves. You’ll likely need to be undergoing an eviction yourself, but if that’s the case, then these programs can be invaluable in ensuring that you end up back on your feet.

Ask your employer if there’s a job relocation package

Moving for a job? Ask the HR department if your company offers a job relocation package. It typically covers part or all of the moving expenses if you’re moving for a work-related reason. Your employer might reimburse you for moving expenses, such as the cost of hiring the movers, living in temporary housing or renting a storage unit.

Saving money on your move

When you’re working with a limited budget, it’s worth looking into anything that you can do to cut down on moving expenses and make your relocation more manageable. In addition to pursuing low-income moving assistance through the channels noted above, it may also be helpful to pursue these additional ways of reducing expenses for a more affordable move:

  • Seek out free moving boxes. There are many places that you can reach out to for free packing boxes, which can in turn save you $100 or more on your move. Some places to start include Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and nearby retail stores.
  • Use alternative packing supplies. You likely have a lot of items around your home that can double as packing supplies. For example, use drawers, laundry hampers and garbage bags in lieu of boxes, and skip out on packing paper by wrapping up fragile items in linens, towels and clothing.
  • Spread out the work. If you have some flexibility in your moving dates, move your items gradually instead of all at once. This could be a useful workaround if you have a car (or a car that you can borrow) and can’t afford to rent a moving truck. It can also allow you to get your move done without taking any time away from your job.

If you are in need of emergency moving assistance, know that help may be available. Start application processes as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to go over your options. There are also rental and mortgage assistance programs that can help you avoid a move entirely.