Finding ways to get emergency cash can be helpful if you feel overwhelmed or stressed about making ends meet during an acute or prolonged period. There are several ways you can receive emergency financial assistance, though most require research and careful review of the fine print.
Individual Cash Grant Options From the Government
A grant is not a loan or entitlement which needs to be paid back. Rather, it is money given to an individual in need of financial aid. While it may seem like easy cash, grants are not given to just anyone. There is often a litany of requirements which need to be met prior to receiving emergency cash grants. Fortunately, there are a few entities that provide for those in need of monetary support.
The federal government is a good place to start when researching individual cash grants. Monetary aid is available to individuals who have lost their home due to disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fire. Emergency grant money is allocated to cover costs related to finding temporary shelter, food and clothing. It may also be used to pay for traveling expenses incurred if you are forced to relocate.
Government Help During Special Circumstances
The government offers several options for those who need a bit of assistance during financially stressful times. During a state of emergency or a pandemic, there are a few routes you can go to access emergency funds. You can:
- File for unemployment by filling out specific forms based on your state location. With pandemics and other states of emergency, the restrictions for unemployment benefits may become more lenient to assist those who are dealing with hardship due to certain circumstances.
- You can also apply for extended benefits if you are still experiencing difficulty making end's meet once your payments run out.
- Apply for welfare, which is a federal program that will have varying requirements depending on the state you reside in. This program financially assists with housing, child-care, food, job assistance, and home energy.
During a state of emergency, the government may create other helpful programs to temporarily provide relief to those during difficult times including tax payment delays and emergency financial aid for all citizens. This will depend on the situation and should be checked daily on usa.gov for more information.
While churches with food pantries are common, there are also a number of religious groups who may have financial assistance programs available to people of their faith and the surrounding community. Some agencies may want you to be a member of the religion, while for others, it may not be part of the requirements. Check with local religious leaders to find out what is available. A couple examples include:
Jewish Federation Financial Assistance Program
The Jewish Federation's Financial Assistance Program helps families in the Jewish community make ends meet when times are especially tough. The cash grants are awarded to individuals who are found to be in urgent need of financial support. Grant applications can be found at Chai Lifeline, Jewish Free Loan Association, and JVS.
Catholic Charities also offers emergency financial assistance to those in dire straits. However, you don't need to be a baptized Catholic in order to receive emergency grants. The group awards cash to individuals and families who have suffered major catastrophe, have fallen on hard times, and have lost their homes due to natural disasters.
Applying for a Cash Grant
When applying for an emergency cash grant, it is vital that you follow the directions printed on the formal application. In most cases you will also have to provide valid picture identification in the form of a driver's license or passport. However, since grants are not loans, you will not have to worry about the agency running a credit check or asking for collateral or a co-signer. Even if you have declared bankruptcy in the past, typically you would still be eligible for emergency grant money from major entities. In addition, if you are awarded an emergency cash grant from the government, you will not have to pay taxes on it.
Options for Emergency Assistance
If you are in need of financial assistance due to low or no income, there are other ways you can make ends meet even if you don't meet the requirements for an emergency cash grant. Options include:
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program: This government program provides rental assistance.
- Food stamps: This program is run locally and funded by the federal government. It is designed to help families facing economic hardships access free food up to a certain dollar amount depending on need.
- Energy assistance: This program, known as LIHEAP, aids low-income individuals who are unable to afford electricity or heat. It offers financial aid to cover energy bills and is typically paid directly to the local utility company.
- If you are currently working, the app Earnin can help you access funds that you've already earned before you reach your payday, as well as assist with negotiating medical bill payment.
Finding the Right Emergency Funds Option
Individuals in urgent need of money can become prey for scammers. If you need help financially, it is best to contact non-profit organizations or official government agencies who will provide information on specialized programs and direct you to reputable resources for free. There are many great options available depending on your specific need.