Preparing to be Homeless: A Checklist for Those Facing Eviction or Foreclosure

The first signs you may be in danger of losing your home:


  1. You haven’t paid your housing bill this month and possibly last month.

  2. You quit paying the larger bills like housing and the car payment, because you can only afford the smaller bills

  3. You have no foreseeable income or the income you have doesn’t cover your living expenses

People who are renting have less time to prepare for eviction.  Some cases, depending on your landlord, your renter’s agreement, and the state you live in, eviction can be the very day you fall late on your monthly payment.  If you refuse to leave, the landlord will have to take legal action.  This process is supposed to involve the court systems, but the way things have been going lately, you should be aware that there may be some police officers out there that will work outside of their jurisdiction and forcibly remove tenants without the court order to do so.

Mortgage foreclosures take more time to process and take effect. In most cases you will get warning letters and phone calls for at least a month prior to the foreclosure process to begin.  That process can take several months depending on how backed up the court system is.

Efforts to avoid being homeless:


  1. File all necessary paperwork with local help agencies and possibly churches for assistance paying ANY bills, especially utilities, car payments, and housing costs.

  2. Sell personal or family items that could bring in some side money.

  3. Eliminate ALL unnecessary expenses such as cable television and any phone lines that aren’t essential.  If you are going to get a massage or your nails done once a week, or any luxurious items or services, these need to be eliminated.  You may also be able to find some services like insurance and phone services for cheaper than what you are currently paying.

  4. Ask others for help.  It is uncomfortable and your relationship with some people may change, but you need to ask for help from friends and family.  If they can’t help just say ‘Thanks’ and let it go.

  5. Subletting your Apartment or renting out your home or a room in your home

Preparing to Lose Your Home:

  1. Minimize all that you have. Get rid of things you don’t need. Donate, sell, or trash everything that isn’t vital to your or your family’s existence.  

  2. Store it.  If you have things you find you just can’t part with, if you can afford it you can put your belongings in a storage unit.

  3. Stop all automatic withdrawals from your bank accounts. Most of us set these up and forget about them so if you don’t need a service you will still be charged for it. Cancel the service and the auto payment at the same time.  This prevents money lost.

  4. Apply for food stamps now while you still have a physical mailing address.  This is needed for vital paperwork and the food stamps card to get to you. If you do not qualify for food stamps, find your local food bank or food pantry. Some local churches may also provide meals.

  5. Additionally, if you can afford a P.O. Box number, do this prior to vacating.  This will allow you to continue to receive important mail.

  6. Take an inventory of your financial assets.  Examples might be a small savings account, retirement fund or life insurance policy that can be cashed in.  This can also include non-cash items like food stamps or additional financial assistance.  Use the list of these assets to make a game plan going forward. 

  7. Collect paperwork that will be of vital importance.  This information should include social security numbers for everyone you live with, birth certificates, government assistance paperwork, last year’s tax information, prescriptions for medications, and any other documents you may need.  Also include a list of phone numbers and addresses of family, friends, and coworkers that you may need access to.  Phone service, internet service and battery life all affect your ability to obtain information from your phone.  Prepare for the possibility that your phone may not work at some point.  Maps may also be needed if you have to travel for shelter.

  8. Start researching your future housing options.  You may have to get creative with this.  For some people, they may be fortunate enough to bunk with a friend or family member who is willing and able.  For others, there will be a need to find alternatives to what you are used to.  Tents, Yurts, Tepees, Campers, Trailers, Tiny Home, or Cars may work for housing in a pinch.  Make sure these are paid off fully to avoid repossession.  Additionally, you will need to find a place to put these where they don’t violate local laws. I would also advise you to look up squatters rights in your local area.  Believe it or not, this might open up some options you never considered before. 

  9. If you are on prescription medication, consult your doctor regarding your financial situation.  They may or may not have suggestions for you based on your medical needs and what services are available locally.

  10. Learn and write down super foods, herbs and foods that heal.  This will help you and your family in the long run. Food products can also be used for cleaning and laundry. Time to try new things. You all have to stay healthy for what you will be going through. Pinterest is a great place to start.

  11. Consider this as an experiment in being a pioneer or long term camping.  Pack minimal clothing and shoes. Make sure you have blankets for cold weather.  Wet bandannas around the neck can be used to keep you and your family from heat exhaustion in the hot months.  Everyone should have a refillable water bottle of their own, as well as a plate, bowl & silverware. You will also need towels and washcloths for cleaning. Consider hunting or fishing options for food if you know how and have access to areas where this is allowed.

  12. Find out all the areas open to the public and the hours that you can be there.  Some Walmarts still allow travelers to stay in their parking lots overnight.  Truck stops and rest stations also allow for this. Places that are open twenty four hours are good for general cleaning of face and exposed body parts like arms and legs.  Fast food chains usually allow for anyone to use their bathrooms if needed. Pay attention to places that have free internet and electrical outlets too. If libraries are open in your area, document printing and computer access is usually available.

Underdog Advocate, Certified Herbalist, Podcaster, Chaplain, Real Estate Agent

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