Programs authorized under federal or provincial legislation or local government initiatives that provide financial assistance and supportive services for individuals and/or families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. Included are prevention programs that help people at imminent risk for homelessness preserve current housing or secure alternative housing; diversion programs that help people actively seeking shelter to identify and access viable alternatives including shared housing arrangements and transitional housing/shelter; and rapid re-housing programs that help people who are already homeless move as quickly as possible into permanent housing. Services may include case management, rental deposits, rent assistance, utility deposits, housing search assistance, moving expenses, expenses related to non-shelter temporary housing in situations where permanent housing has been secured but is currently unavailable, and other costs the family may incur in the process of acquiring or maintaining housing. Allowable activities, eligibility criteria and other requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction, the funding source and the focus of the program.
Programs that offer classes which help prospective renters acquire and keep decent housing. Many programs are tailored for people who have been denied housing because of poor or no credit, bad references, past evictions, criminal history or other screening barriers. These classes help participants learn how to take responsibility for past rental issues, improve their credit, manage their money, understand the application and rental process, find affordable housing, develop a positive relationship with their landlord and neighbours, and be responsible tenants. Specifics may include information about credit reports and how they are used in the tenant screening process; resources for evaluating an available rental unit and their prospective landlord; the tenant screening process and their rights under fair housing regulations; rental agreements and typical legal (and illegal) provisions; maintenance responsibilities (who is responsible for maintenance and repair of rental unit features); and moving out including notice, security deposits and evictions. Some programs issue a certificate of completion that can be presented to landlords upon application for tenancy. Also included are tenant education programs for high school or college/university students or others who lack experience as a tenant and want to begin their rental experience on a positive note.
Programs that make rental payments for people who are at risk of eviction without assistance. Also included are rent supplement programs that provide assistance with ongoing monthly rental costs. Rent payment assistance programs may have age, income, disability, need or other eligibility requirements.
Programs that maintain lists of available rental housing for review by people who are in search of housing. Included is information that is available online, in print or in other formats.
Organizations that make rental housing more readily available to low-income individuals and families by administering federal and local housing programs.
Programs that accept and, where possible, attempt to resolve complaints regarding a landlord's failure to place rental security deposits in trust accounts, to pay required interest on rental security deposits or to return the security deposit (plus accrued interest) within legal timeframes when the tenant moves out.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.