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Tennessee emergency assistance.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency as well as the Department of Human Services administer a number of emergency housing and financial assistance programs. The various resources and services are noted below. Get help in Tennessee with a variety of needs, including rent, utilities, food, and other housing needs, including HUD voucher.

State of Tennessee housing assistance programs

The housing authority runs the Section 8 housing choice voucher program. Low income individuals, and primarily the elderly, disabled, and poor, can get help in paying their rent. The program will help people afford housing in the private market, so this is not a public housing program. Since housing assistance and vouchers to pay rent are provided on behalf of the individual or family, participants in the Tennessee section 8 voucher program are able to find their own apartments, townhomes, or units to live in.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) administers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program in partnership with public housing agencies and community action agencies. There are also emergency vouchers as well as low-income housing units in TN. These will tend to be for income-qualified veterans, women facing violence or the disabled.  Learn more about an emergency housing voucher.

The Tennessee housing authority also runs the Emergency Repair Program for the Elderly (ERP). Low income, elderly homeowners (those 60 or older qualify) may be able to apply for cash grants that can be used to make repairs or improvements to homes. The updates need to make the home more livable and safe. It is not a comprehensive homeowner rehabilitation program, but provides a limited amount of repairs to low income homeowners in Tennessee.

Eviction prevention services, funds for rent, and even utility bills may be offered from the Emergency Shelter Grant Program which is administered by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Funds are provided to non-profits and charities in towns and counties across the state, and applicants need to apply to local agencies for help.

If you are looking into buying your first home, the state may offer Closing Cost and/or Downpayment Assistance to income qualified families. The service is formally known as the Great Advantage Program. It can offer a loan that is secured by a first mortgage and offers down payment and closing cost assistance of 2%. The second option for Tennessee homebuyers is the Great Start Program, which offers a home loan at a slightly higher interest rate, secured by a first mortgage, but offers additional assistance with down payment and closing costs of 4%.




Also the Tennessee Housing Authority also offers 30-year, fixed interest rate mortgages and downpayment assistance to first-time homebuyers. Conditions need to be met, including a first-time homebuyer is considered someone who has not owned his or her principal residence in the last three years, someone who is honorably discharged or re-enlisted veteran and spouse, or anyone who is buying a home in special targeted areas. Potential borrowers must have satisfactory credit and the home must meet certain other conditions as well.

Emergency social services in TN

Tennessee Child and Adult Care Food Program – While funding comes from the federal government, it is run at the state and local level. It provides reimbursement for eligible groceries and meals that are served to program participants who meet the established income and age requirements. The program is run at your local county level.

Families First Child Care Assistance. If you have a job and are struggling to pay your child care costs, then parents who participate in the Families First program may be able to get help. Families who need assistance in paying for child care in order to complete their work can receive grants or financial assistance with the cost of paying for child care. Parents who participate in Families First do not need to pay a parent co-pay for this program. Income guidelines need to be met.

The Department of Human Services also works closely with community action agencies and the federal government funded Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). It was created to focus on helping those in poverty. Both short term assistance and other aid can be provided for immediate needs, like food and energy bills. However the main focus is to help people become self-sufficient through job training, development, and educational opportunities.

Food stamps - Very-low income families can get help paying for their food. Social services can help households apply for WIC vouchers or SNAP food stamps. There are other government benefit programs as well around food, hunger prevention and more. Read more on SNAP food stamps in TN,

Energy bill assistance is offered for both a crisis situation as well as regular ongoing payments. The main resource is the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It is funded by the federal government, and grants can help Tennessee low income households pay their utility bills.





Assistance is primarily for those residents who pay a high proportion of their total household income on home energy and electric bills. Assistance is offered in meeting their immediate energy needs to prevent disconnections. Your local community action agency runs the program on behalf of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Phone number for emergency help from Housing or Human Services

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency can be reached at 615-815-2200. Learn about section  8, emergency housing, home buying services and more.

For other emergency aid, call the Tennessee Department of Human Services for information on these or other emergency assistance programs. Call (615) 313-4700


By Jon McNamara













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