Housing Emergencies 101: What to Do

By: Nicole McCarthy, Greenheart International Service Learning and Outreach Manager

You’ve found a place to live, settled in, and suddenly you’re faced with a housing emergency. These situations can be stressful, but you can prepare in advance by taking a few simple steps. Here are some tips on what to do in three common housing emergencies.

Infestations: It’s not fun to think about sharing your space with mice, spiders or other bugs, but it is a reality (especially in summer).

  1. Take pictures (if possible) of the rodents or bugs.
  2. Contact your landlord or host organization right away. Then, contact Greenheart to let us know what’s going on.
  3. Preventative measure – keep a clean and tidy living space. Take out garbage frequently and keep doors and windows closed. Always wash dirty dishes right away. Inspect for bed bugs upon arrival to your housing.
  4. For more tips on how to handle infestations, check out this helpful website.

Break-Ins: You come home to find your front door wide open and your money, passport, and computer are missing. What do you do?

  1. Call 911 immediately. Don’t enter the house if you believe you are in danger.
  2. Once you have called 911 and explained the situation, take an inventory of your belongings and determine what is missing. You can file this in the police report.
  3. Contact Greenheart right away, preferably with a copy of your police report or a contact at the police station. We will assist you in every way possible, but we need the necessary information.
  4. If your passport or any important document was stolen, contact your embassy in the United States. Find a list of embassies here.
  5. Have your landlord replace locks or fix broken windows to prevent future break-ins.

Evictions: You broke the rules of your lease or Placement Agreement and have to move out.

  1. Contact Greenheart immediately to explain what happened. We will help you secure temporary housing until you can find more permanent housing.
  2. Refer to our move-out checklist.
  3. Preventative measure – read your lease/Placement Agreement carefully to understand the rules and contact your landlord or host organization about anything that is unclear.

Remember that you can call Greenheart’s office at 1-866-684-9675 Monday through Friday during business hours or at 1-855-767-5642 in the case of emergencies.