Comprehensive Guide to Relocation Assistance Programs
Relocation assistance programs provide financial assistance to help cover moving expenses, security deposits, and other costs associated with stable housing. These programs also offer support services to help individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and secure a new home. This comprehensive guide provides information about the various relocation assistance programs available, including who they help, what they offer, and how to apply.
What Is Relocation Assistance?
Relocation assistance is a type of support provided to people moving from one residence to another for a number of reasons. Many nonprofit organizations and government agencies offer relocation assistance programs to help families and individuals achieve financial stability and secure housing. This includes people experiencing eviction, homelessness, low income, or the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Relocation assistance programs provide financial assistance to cover moving expenses, security deposits, and other costs associated with relocating, but that’s not all they do. “Relocation assistance programs offer a diverse range of services,” says Realtor Theresa Raymond of TN Smoky Mtn Realty. “Such services may include job search assistance, language training, house-finding assistance, and more.” Benefits vary depending on the sponsoring organization, but may include the following:
- Childcare assistance
- Emergency housing
- Employment services
- Expense reimbursement
- Homebuyer support
- Job training
- Legal assistance
- Medical care referrals
- Moving company referrals
- Rental assistance
Who Qualifies for Relocation Assistance Programs?
Relocation assistance programs are generally available to low-income individuals or families or those who have experienced a natural disaster that resulted in the loss of their home. They are designed to help those unable to afford the costs associated with moving. However, qualification requirements vary depending on the specific program and the organization offering it.
In some cases, individuals facing eviction or homelessness may qualify for relocation assistance. Individuals with disabilities, veterans, senior citizens, and families with young children may also be eligible. Some programs may have specific eligibility requirements related to income, family size, and residency status.
“While these relocation assistance programs offer you valuable support, they have certain limitations on the types of assistance they provide and the length of time these services are available,” says Raymond. “You need to know the limitations to ensure that you can make the most of the available resources.” Because criteria may vary, be sure to research specific programs to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements.
National Relocation Assistance Programs
The federal government offers several national programs to assist low-income residents, veterans, natural disaster victims, and others in need. You can use the online Benefits Finder tool to identify federal relocation assistance programs and related services that may apply to your situation.
Here are a few federal agencies that offer relocation assistance and moving benefits:
Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
The Emergency Solutions Grant is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It provides funds to local government programs that offer emergency shelter, rental assistance, and other support services to families in need of relocation assistance.
To apply for benefits, you must contact the state or local government agency responsible for distributing ESG funds in your area. Your local HUD field office can point you in the right direction.
Individuals and Households Program (IHP)
The Individuals and Household Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It provides financial assistance for home repairs, temporary housing, and other expenses related to disaster recovery for renters or homeowners who have been affected by a natural disaster.
Note that this program only covers areas that have been declared a disaster by the President of the United States. It is also limited to needs that cannot be met through other forms of disaster assistance or insurance. To apply for IHP benefits, you can contact FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) Program
Good Neighbor Next Door is another program administered by HUD. It offers eligible law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and teachers the opportunity to purchase homes in designated revitalization areas at a 50% discount from the list price.
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP)
The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). It provides employment services and other support to help homeless veterans transition into the civilian labor force and achieve self-sufficiency.
To learn more about the program and determine if you qualify for the HVRP, contact the nearest Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) office. You can find it listed in the phone book under “United State Government, U.S. Department of Labor,” or you can check the DOL website.
Tax Deductions for Moving Expenses
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers tax deductions for moving expenses related to job relocation. To qualify for this deduction, the move must be closely related to the start of work at a new job location, and the new job must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your previous job was.
USDA Rural Housing Service Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs under the umbrella of its Rural Housing Service that can help low-income families secure housing in rural areas. To qualify, the property in question must be located in an eligible area, and you must not exceed certain income limits.
Available programs include both rural housing loans and rural rental assistance. Housing loans are offered either directly or through approved lenders. If you are interested in applying, you can contact your local USDA Rural Development field office to learn more.
Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program
The Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8, is administered by HUD. It provides rental assistance to eligible low-income families and individuals, allowing them to choose their own housing units in the private market. Those who qualify receive a voucher that can be used to subsidize their rent. They may also receive relocation assistance to help with moving and housing-related expenses.
Real Estate Acquisition and Relocation Program
The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Act (URA) provides relocation assistance for people displaced by federally funded projects, such as highway construction. It is overseen primarily by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in close collaboration with HUD.
Far fewer people qualify for assistance under the URA than other programs. If you believe you might qualify, you can contact a HUD regional relocation specialist near you.
Charitable Organizations and Nonprofits
While federal programs provide support primarily through financial assistance and referrals, charitable organizations and nonprofits often provide more personalized, hands-on support. These organizations have a deep understanding of the specific needs and challenges of the communities they serve. As a result, they can provide services such as job training, childcare, and transportation assistance in addition to financial aid.
Additionally, charities and nonprofits may be able to offer more flexible and tailored assistance than federal programs, which have strict eligibility requirements and limited funding. Here are some of the top organizations that offer relocation assistance:
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has several housing programs aimed toward alleviating poverty and homelessness. It operates homeless shelters across the country and offers transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and reentry resources. The organization can even provide assistance with rent, mortgage payments, and utility bills.
Support services offered by the Salvation Army include job training, after-school programs, health services, childcare, and legal services. The populations it serves include vulnerable young adults, low-income seniors, destitute families, homeless adults, veterans, and victims of domestic abuse.
Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA is a religiously affiliated organization dedicated to helping people who are struggling with poverty—regardless of their faith. One of the organization’s key priorities is securing affordable housing for vulnerable populations, including seniors, veterans, and low-income families. To that end, Catholic Charities USA offers emergency rental, mortgage, and utility assistance and both permanent and temporary housing options.
To ask for assistance, you can contact your local Catholic Charities agency.
The YWCA offers relocation assistance to individuals and families who are fleeing domestic violence and other dangerous situations. This includes housing assistance, counseling, medical and legal advocacy, job skills training, and financial coaching. If you need help escaping an abusive situation, you can contact your local YWCA or call their national crisis hotline at 202-467-0801.
Modest Needs provides small grants to individuals and families who are facing a short-term financial crisis. Its hallmark program is the Self-Sufficiency Grant. Through this grant program, Modest Needs offers assistance with moving expenses, rent payments, and other housing-related expenses, as well as other basic needs, such as medical bills and utility payments.
The grant application process is relatively simple, but it must be completed online. Before you apply, we recommend reading through the organization’s FAQ page for individual applicants.
Housing Industry Foundation
Through its Emergency Housing Fund, the Housing Industry Foundation provides relocation assistance to individuals and families who are experiencing a housing crisis. Its goal is to help families overcome temporary financial setbacks and housing instability arising from medical bills, job loss, a death in the family, and other unforeseen circumstances. The foundation works with a network of partner agencies to screen and provide support services, including emergency housing grants.
Alternative Relocation Assistance Programs
In addition to federal and nonprofit relocation assistance programs, there are a number of alternative programs and resources available to help with moving expenses and other relocation costs. Here are a few examples:
Local Churches and Charities
We mentioned a few national nonprofits above, but you can also look into local charitable organizations. Community centers, churches, and other religious organizations can often provide direct assistance or connect you with helpful resources. You can also ask your local United Way for referrals.
Local Government Programs
Some state and county governments offer relocation programs to eligible families and individuals. These programs may provide financial assistance and support services.
A few cities and states have even begun offering cash payments to incentivize long-distance moves to their area, essentially paying people to move there. If you have flexibility regarding where you move, you can take advantage of these offers to stretch your moving budget.
If you are moving for a new job or transferring to a new location for work, ask your employer about relocation packages. Your employers might provide a stipend to help cover your moving, housing, and transportation costs. They might even pay for interstate movers and temporary housing.
If you need help finding community-based services and relocation assistance programs, you can call the 211 national hotline or visit the 211 website. The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) also offers a list of helpful websites and phone numbers. The goal is to connect you with local housing resources, such as rapid rehousing or temporary housing programs.
How To Find Affordable Housing
Finding affordable housing can be a challenge, but you have access to several resources and strategies that can make the process easier. Here are some tips for finding affordable housing:
- Check with local housing authorities: Local housing authorities are government agencies that provide affordable housing options and rental assistance to eligible low-income families and individuals. They are typically funded by the HUD and operate at the city or county level. Your local public housing agency (PHA) can help you find affordable housing options and apply for assistance programs.
- Search online: Several websites offer listings for affordable housing. You can use HUD’s interactive map or the Affordable Housing Online website to find options near you. These and similar sites allow users to search for affordable housing based on location, rent amount, and other criteria.
- Look for government-funded programs: Government-funded programs, such as Section 8 and the low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP), can help qualifying individuals pay for housing and related expenses. The federal government even has an online Benefit Finder tool to help you identify and apply for benefits you may be eligible to receive.
- Contact nonprofit organizations: Many local and national nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, offer housing assistance programs and other support services. You can also apply for a Self-Sufficiency Grant from Modest Needs.
- Consider shared housing: Sharing a home or apartment with roommates can be a more affordable option than renting or buying on your own. Websites like Roommates.com and Craigslist can be good resources for finding potential roommates.
- Ask about income-based rents: Some landlords offer income-based rental rates, which are adjusted based on the renter’s income. Contacting landlords directly and asking about income-based rent can be a good way to find affordable housing options.
- Find affordable neighborhoods: Research the average home or rent prices in various neighborhoods, then focus your housing search on the most affordable areas. Keep in mind that living in a more affordable area may also mean sacrificing certain amenities or conveniences.
It may take time and effort, but with persistence and determination, it is possible to secure stable and affordable housing. You can also research relocation assistance programs and the cheapest moving companies to cut costs.
Relocating can be a stressful experience at the best of times. The stress only grows when your move is accompanied by other difficulties, such as a drop in income, an eviction notice, or a natural disaster. Fortunately, there are a number of resources and programs available to help individuals and families transition to new homes. These include federal programs, nonprofit organizations, local government assistance, and community-based support.
Note that eligibility requirements, program availability, and services may vary depending on your location and specific circumstances. However, by doing your research and reaching out to local organizations, you can access the resources you need to secure stable housing.
FAQ About Relocation Assistance Programs
How do I ask for relocation assistance?
You can ask for relocation assistance from your employer, government programs, and charitable organizations. Follow these steps:
- Identify potential sources of assistance and locate contact information.
- Reach out and explain your situation.
- Be specific about what you need and provide as much detail as possible.
- Complete any necessary applications.
- Be persistent, prompt, and polite in following up on your application.
Do you have to pay back relocation assistance?
In general, no—you do not have to pay back relocation assistance from federal and nonprofit programs. However, you may need to meet specific conditions or requirements in order to receive assistance. Carefully review the terms of any relocation assistance program and ask any questions you may have about repayment before accepting the aid.
What relocation benefits should I ask for?
When asking for relocation benefits, you should consider your specific needs and the resources available to you. Depending on the situation, you might consider asking for the following:
- Childcare assistance
- Home search assistance
- Job search assistance
- Moving expenses
- Spouse/partner support
- Temporary housing
- Transportation costs
Which states offer money to move there?
Several states and cities offer relocation incentives, but the availability and details of these programs may vary from year to year. As of 2023, here are a few states that offer money to move there:
What is the average relocation allowance?
According to Shyft Moving, the average employee relocation allowance is $21,327–$24,913 for a renter and $61,622–$79,429 for a homeowner. American Relocation Connections (ARC), a corporate relocation group, cites similar ranges: $19,309–$24,216 for renters and $72,627–$97,166 for homeowners. However, the exact amount will vary depending on the employee’s situation and what the organization is willing to spend.
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