My best friend and her two-year-old are homeless: how can I help her find resources?

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By: Vinamra AgrawalCC BY 2.0
My best friend "Maria" and her adorable two-year old lived with Maria's mom. Said Mom has basically made the situation unlivable and they need to get out of there immediately. Now, she's going to be staying with me for a few days, but we are trying to find a more long-term solution.

Neither of us have done this before, so we have a few questions that we're hoping the greater online communities we partake in can help with:

  • She is unemployed and on foodstamps. Is there a program available to help her pay for living needs?
  • We are finding a lot about "Transitional Living" places, but all the sites seem to assume that one is familiar with the system. Where can we learn more?
  • Transitional Living programs seem to focus mainly on under 18 yr. olds escaping abusive parents or adults recovering from addiction. Does this situation apply to us at all?
  • She very much wants to be employed but can't locate childcare. Is there a system that will help care for her child while she earns money to secure independence?
  • If you live in the Los Angeles Area, is there a particular place you would recommend?

Any information you can spare would be helpful. We are lost even as simply as searching. I am unsure how to google this properly. — T

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  1. Call 211 and ask these questions. They are far more familiar with local resources and can provide help

    18 agree
  2. I'd say that since she's on SNAP, then she's at least a little familiar with the local DHHR. Make an appointment. That's what they're there for. All of these questions could probably be answered there, and if not they'll know where to send you to get the answers you need. From my experience, they're all nice people there to help others and will welcome any and all questions and will be willing to help your friend to get back onto her feet. 🙂

    1 agrees
  3. Contact the local homeless shelters and ask them how to get resources. Every day they are helping people access the resources you are needing. They should be able to give you the info you are looking for. GOOD LUCK!!! I hope all goes well!

  4. Look up Families First, more commonly known as "welfare"- they should be able to help with living expenses AND childcare, I think. Also it would probably be helpful to call her caseworker who is in charge of the foodstamps and see if the caseworker knows of any resources. Or talk to someone in charge at a homeless shelter, they probably know of a lot of resources too.

    1 agrees
  5. I'm not sure what area that you live in by I live in the DC area and worked along side of many transitional housing, and the majority of them are families in situations like your friend, not just minors. If there is a Volunteers of America by you they have a lot of resources for families who find themselves without a home. Habitat for Humanity is also great, it does take a long time to get a home with them but they have a lot of contacts with organizations that would be able to help your friend. I'm sorry that she has to go through all of this, you sound like a great friend

  6. My husband is a social worker here in PA. We're trying to help out someone at his second job who is homeless right now. One of the things he's told me is that spending even just ONE NIGHT in a homeless shelter can help get her bumped up on lists for housing assistance and get things taken care of much more quickly. Try to find a social work agency in your area and get her hooked up with them. They will be able to help her out with county/state/federal programs that she is eligible for. If you can't locate them online, call the shelters and ask if they know where to turn.

    1 agrees
  7. When I worked with homeless teens in CA (not LA County) I did learn a lot about social services in that state. If she is receiving food stamps & her situation has changed, she can talk to her case worker about applying for TANF. With a minor child and no job (income), I don't see why she hasn't already qualified (but I don't know her specifics). Once she receives that, she is part of the welfare to work program and can receive childcare assistance and job search assistance through her case worker. I know that there is a lot of demand for assistance through that program and it's more intensive to qualify than for just SNAP, but it's designed for people just like her that want to work and need that extra help. If she hasn't already, she should make sure her daughter is covered under Medi-CAL (Medicaid) when she speaks to her case worker.

    1 agrees
  8. Department of Health and Human Services offices may be able to help you… It may be under a different name in LA. I do know that there are a lot of programs in LA to assist with families experiencing homelessness. Are there Department of Transitional Assistance offices out there? If so, tell your friend to head there and find out what her options are. Unfortunately, people need to be documented on paper as homeless to get a lot of services that they would already qualify for without the paper backing.

    I agree with folks who have said to talk to people in the office where your friend receives her SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Many programs that she probably qualifies for can help her find work and possibly assist her with a childcare voucher until she gets on her feet.

    If I find out anything more on LA specifically I will let you know as I have friends out there, but I live on the east coast so not sure if I am helpful at all. Best of luck.

    1 agrees
  9. You can always try getting in touch with your local (Los Angeles) and state-level (California) bar associations. They will usually keep lists and resources of pro bono representation, which can help your friend access resources. There are multiple legal aid societies devoted to providing services to the homeless. If your friend is low-income, these are often free of charge. People there can help her identify resources and can also help her navigate the system and advocate for her, if need be.

  10. In Pasadena, Union Station Homeless Services — their intake center is called Passageways. See ushs.org. In addition to a family program, they offer housing resources and employment resources.

  11. I would walk into a library, and march up to the reference desk. Librarians are expert googlers, and might also already know some of the local resources.

    5 agree
  12. I work for a homeless service agency in LA! 🙂

    Have her call 211 and say that she would like to make an appointment with a Family Solutions Center. They should set her up with the location that covers her area, and they'll do their best to connect her with appropriate housing/resources.

    Good luck!

    3 agree

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