Grants for Homeless Shelters: Where and How to Apply

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Homelessness is a significant problem in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ 2023 State of Homelessness report, there were 582,462 people in the United States who were experiencing homelessness in 2022, 28% of which were families with children. That’s why grants for homeless shelters are so important. This blog focuses on where to find grants and how to apply for them. 

Homeless shelters play an important role in ending homelessness and helping individuals and families find stable housing. However, funding can often be an issue when there are significant numbers of people in need of services.  When individual donations to shelters aren’t enough, how can homeless shelters continue to provide stability to those in need? One way to approach finding additional funding is through applications for grants. Read on to learn how to find and apply to grants for homeless shelters.

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Where to find grants for your homeless shelter

The federal government is a major funder of homeless shelters through its grant funds for state and local governments. Many of these grant funds are then awarded at the individual state level (and sometimes on metropolitan levels) by state and local governments to organizations that apply for them. 

State and local government agencies

The federal government doesn’t award funds to homeless shelters directly, which is why it’s important to search for state and local HUD (Housing and Urban Development) or HHS (Health and Human Services) offices that can assist you with applying for grant funding. 

Start your search for grants by looking up available Emergency Solutions Grants in your state or metropolitan area. These grants are often earmarked for homeless shelters to increase their capacity to serve those in need. Because each state and local government is able to award those grant funds as they see fit, it’s important to note that Emergency Solutions Grants may go by other names when searching for them. For instance, Florida’s Department of Children and Families awards grants under the Unified Homelessness Grant Program.  

Private foundations

If your search for funding at the state and local levels inspires you to write more grants for funding for your homeless shelter, there are often grants from community foundations, family foundations, and other private foundations that can help.  

To determine if these are right for you, it helps to look at what they fund or have funded previously. Many of these private foundations have a mission they want to accomplish. You have to determine whether the work you do benefits the mission of the private foundation and then convince them of that in your grant application. 

To find grants from private foundations, grant search software like GrantStation or GrantWatch can help you find relevant grant funders for your homeless shelter. You want to find funders funding programs like yours. Be mindful that some funders give nationwide while others are selective of where funds go. 

Corporate grants

Another avenue to look for grant funds is through corporate grants. Businesses often create grant programs for specific funding needs or to improve their communities. What better way to improve the community than by supporting efforts to end homelessness and provide shelter for those who need it?  

Take a look at what corporations are operating in your area and determine what they fund. Those  with general funds that support all types of nonprofits are perfect  for a grant application. The key is to have a local branch of the corporation in your area for best results. Often, these corporations want to fund nonprofits that will help the communities they serve or hire from. Making that connection in your grant application is key to getting your homeless shelter the funding you need for your programs. 

Woman writing a grant on a laptop.

How to apply for grants

Once you’ve identified grants you want to apply for, it’s time to sit down and write the grants. These grants will all have different deadlines and requirements that you must follow to be considered. That’s why it’s important to track your grant applications.  

While many nonprofits will use professional grant writers when it comes time to write grants, your nonprofit may not have the resources to dedicate to hiring a grant writer to write your grants for you. Never fear! You can learn to write grants yourself. If your nonprofit is new to grant writing, we recommend starting with these seven simple tips from Adar Danan from GrantWriterTeam

Ultimately, it’s key that your grant application stands out, makes the best case possible for support, and includes everything the grant funder is looking for.  

Want your grant writing to be even easier? Download our Grant Writing Toolkit for even more helpful information about the grant writing process. 

Final thoughts

Now that you’ve been able to identify some public and private grant opportunities, you should have an easier time finding funding for your homeless shelter. To help you acquire those grant funds, we’ve put together a handy resource just for you, our Grant Writing Toolkit. Download your free copy of this great resource to get started! 

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