Free motel and hotel voucher programs.
While not very common, some towns and cities do have resources that provide free motel vouchers to the less fortunate. A number of conditions will need to be met by applicants and the scope of these programs is very limited, and assistance in paying for a hotel or motel room is very rare. They also tend to operate as a form of a very short term solution for people facing some type of crisis, disaster, or other unusual circumstance.
In general, these motel vouchers are part of programs that provide very recently homeless people with a safe place to stay on a temporary basis. The vouchers may only be good for a night or two at a local motel. In some cases the voucher may be available for a nearby hotel, but that would even be less common.
The non-profits that offer these services will usually have a prior agreement with the housing location or business owner, so the homeless person will need to use that facility. Or the voucher may need to be used for lodging at a local shelter or some type of public housing unit. In very few cases, the temporary lodging motel can be selected by the individual seeking help.
Details on the hotel and motel voucher programs
Some of these programs are seasonal in nature as well. For example, if all of the emergency shelters in the community are full during the colder winter months, then the free voucher may be used to add some additional capacity to the system. Or during a summer heat wave in a large city, the sick or frail may be provided a voucher so that they can get out of the heat and stay safe.
The vouchers may be targeted at specific groups too. Some will be for single parents with children or seniors. Other vouchers may be offered for single men or the disabled in the region. Transportation may be available as well in the form of low cost taxi service to and from locations where the motel vouchers are distributed from.
The non-profits that offer these services are always looking for funds to keep them going, as they can be expensive to operate due to demand and cost of the rooms. The agencies will often write a grant proposal that is requesting funds from partners such as local churches. Or they will hold local fund raisers. All of the money raised will be used to pay for motel vouchers for the homeless.
Many restriction will be in place too. In general, each organization requires the recipient to return to the agency where the voucher was received the next day. The client will also usually need to be working in some capacity or aggressively seeking employment. They will also usually need to meet with a case management and execute on a plan to get rehoused and/or break the cycle of homelessness. The goal is to ensure people do not fall between the cracks again in the future.
Some of the vouchers will be targeted for so called special situations. This can be a family that lost their home due to say a fire or flood. Or some charity organizations will offer a free motel stay to a client fleeing a domestic violence or abuse environment. Not only are these resources limited, but even where the program does operate there will be conditions and restrictions in place.
Agencies that may offer free vouchers
Many charities and non-profits operate these and try to keep the programs funded. In some states, such as Washington or Illinois, the state may provide some grant funding for these lodging programs. Some of the types of groups that participate may be the United Way, Salvation Army, local churches or places like Catholic Charities as well. Other religious or faith based organizations, such as St. Vincent de Paul Society, may also distribute motel or hotel vouchers to members of their local community that are facing a one-time crisis. For a listing of some of these national charity organizations, find charities and non-profits.
As noted, the Salvation Army will sometimes provide short term, temporary vouchers that may pay for a motel room. They will often offer this form of assistance as well as shelter or transitional housing, as they use a holistic approach to helping families. Find more details on local free hotel vouchers programs and other housing assistance from the Salvation Army.