There are a lot of logistical decisions that go into moving—and that alone can be a lot to manage. But, when you factor in the expense of moving, it can seem like it’s best to just stay in place. However, with numerous relocation assistance programs throughout the country, there may be resources available that can lighten the load.

With the cost of living on the rise around the country, many people are facing a dilemma: Is it better to pay more on a monthly basis to stay in place or pay for a move to a more affordable residence? The trick is that hiring movers for a local move still costs an average of $1,400. That surges to an average of $2,200 to $5,700 for a long-distance move.

For low-income families or individuals, relocation assistance programs, from federal grants to local charities and beyond, may be able to alleviate some of the physical and financial strain often associated with moving.

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National Moving Assistance Programs

Federal Relocation Assistance Program

Despite the broad name, there is limited eligibility for the Federal Relocation Assistance Program. Managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this program offers financial assistance or housing assistance to anyone displaced “as the direct result of a federally-assisted project involving acquisition, rehabilitation or demolition.” Eligible people must submit a claim for housing or moving costs through the HUD website.

Pros:

  • Can cover moving costs
  • Requires that a comparable, safe dwelling is available for you
  • Can provide rent assistance

Cons:

  • Only for people displaced by federally-assisted projects
  • Claims are subject to agency approval

Rural Housing Service

Through the Rural Development sector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are loan, grant and rental assistance programs available for people in both single-family or multi-family units located in rural areas of the United States. To start, you can determine your eligibility based on income through the USDA website.

Pros:

  • A variety of loans, grants and housing assistance programs are available
  • Affordable housing for seasonal and year-round farm workers

Cons:

  • Limited moving assistance
  • Restrictions for loans and grants
  • Only applies to rural areas

Veterans Affairs Relocation Assistance Program

Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there is moving assistance available for veterans, service members and their surviving spouses. To determine eligibility and to learn what programs are available, it’s best to connect with your local VA branch.

Pros:

  • Can help veterans and/or surviving spouses
  • Home loan benefits are also available

Cons:

  • Programs may vary
  • Requires approval through the VA

Emergency Solutions Grants Program

Created to help with emergency relocation assistance, this HUD-backed program is intended to help “people to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness.” Beneficiaries must be considered homeless or at great risk of becoming homeless. Through the program, there is financial assistance for moving costs as well as rental application fees, deposits, utility payments and more.

Pros:

  • Financial assistance for moving and housing costs
  • Can help with rapid re-housing

Cons:

  • Income limits
  • Beneficiaries must meet specific criteria

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Charity-Based Moving Assistance Programs

Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization created to help offer short-term financial aid to low-income individuals and families in need of emergency relocation assistance. With the Self-Sufficiency Grant, Modest Needs can help cover moving expenses for people who are above the poverty level but still in need of financial assistance. Special consideration is given to teachers, first responders and other public servants. At least one member of the applicant family must be employed.

Pros:

  • Grants available for moving expenses and more
  • Average grant amount is between $750 and $1,250
  • Funds do not have to be repaid

Cons:

  • Not well-suited to immediate crisis situations
  • One applicant must demonstrate employment

Salvation Army

Under the Housing Now program, Salvation Army helps families achieve housing stability through short-term financial assistance, resources and case management. To be eligible, participants must be verifiably unhoused. Those interested can apply through the Salvation Army Housing Now page.

Pros:

  • Offers short-term financial aid
  • Can help individuals find a stable housing situation

Cons:

  • Participants must be unhoused
  • Does not help with non-crisis moving costs

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Alternative or Local Moving Assistance Programs

Local Religious Organizations

Low-income or emergency location assistance may be available on a case-by-case basis through local religious organizations. To inquire about getting help with moving expenses, individuals will likely need to reach out directly to the organization. Some priority may be given to those who are actively involved in the church, synagogue, mosque or other type of religious organization—however many other leaders may be willing to help connect individuals with resources even if they cannot provide financial support.

Local Charities

There are many nonprofit organizations throughout the country that offer low-income moving assistance programs. For example, in the Bay Area, the Housing Industry Foundation offers grants of up to $2,500 to help individuals avoid homelessness after experiencing a financial difficulty, such as job loss or a death in the family. Although options will vary greatly based on locale, exploring charities in the near vicinity that have similar programs can help alleviate some financial strain.

Ask for Assistance, Not Financial Aid

In some cases, local individuals or organizations may be able to offer their time and assistance rather than financial support. When it comes to moving, the expenses for labor, getting an appropriate vehicle and getting packing supplies is what can really add up. By seeking donations for packing supplies, free help with loading and unloading or more, individuals may be able to eliminate or dramatically reduce moving costs.

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