What are relocation assistance programs?

Government and private organization programs to help defray costs

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Where are you moving to?

some moving boxes in a room

Whether you’re moving for work or personal reasons, it can be expensive (and stressful). Taking into account transportation, professional movers, insurance and more, you might spend several thousands of dollars on a relocation.

These numbers are discouraging, but luckily, there’s help. Grants and support from government and nongovernment organizations, like nonprofits, are available if you meet certain income-based and other eligibility requirements. These initiatives, known as relocation assistance programs, ease the financial burden and logistical challenges of moving.


Key insights

Relocation assistance programs are offered by the federal government, nonprofits and employers to support individuals and families who need to move for work or personal reasons.

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Not only do the programs provide financial support for relocation, but some also offer family support, legal assistance, career counseling and more.

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Eligibility requirements vary significantly among programs.

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Relocation assistance programs explained

Chris Knowles, owner and CEO of True Friends Moving Company, explained to ConsumerAffairs that relocation assistance programs are “designed to help minimize the stress and logistical challenges associated with moving to a new location.” Reasons for moving may be work-related or personal, like getting out of an unsafe situation. “Typically,” Knowles told us, “that involves facilitating a smooth transition for the individual and their family.”

Generally, relocation assistance programs are offered by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and local charities. Eligibility requirements vary, and plan benefits depend on the organization and circumstances of the move.

Relocation assistance programs may offer:

  • Financial assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Legal support
  • Spousal and family support
  • Integration services
  • Career counseling

Who is eligible for relocation assistance?

Each relocation assistance program has different eligibility requirements, so you’ll need to research individual programs to see which ones you’re eligible for.

Some common eligible demographics include:

  • Low-income households
  • Veterans
  • Those who have lost property under eminent domain
  • People with disabilities
  • Those who have been impacted by national disasters
  • People who are experiencing a housing crisis
  • Military personnel
  • Students
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Refugees

Employers may offer relocation assistance programs to employees who need to relocate for work. If you’re moving for a job, ask your HR department if they offer assistance.

Federal programs

Several federally funded relocation assistance programs are available to eligible applicants. There are also federal programs and regulations that help people qualify for and receive assistance.

Federal Relocation Assistance Program

Managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this program provides assistance to people who are displaced as the direct result of a federally assisted project involving acquisition, rehabilitation or demolition.

Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Also managed by the HUD, the Good Neighbor Next Door Program offers a 50% discount on the list price of homes in revitalization areas to eligible law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

U.S. Military Relocation Assistance Program

This federal program supports service members and their families when they are required to move due to a duty station transfer. The military provides allowances to cover the cost of moving, military housing, financial counseling, spouse employment assistance and more.

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)

A federal grant program administered by the HUD, the ESG provides funding to government agencies and nonprofits to assist individuals and families who are currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.

Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Act (URA)

The URA mandates relocation assistance be provided to individuals displaced by federally funded projects. One example is if the government decides to construct a new highway that requires them to acquire your land if it sits along the proposed route. In this case, the URA would mandate relocation assistance for you and your family.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

Also known as Section 8, this is a federal housing assistance program that helps low-income individuals and families afford safe housing. If you qualify, you receive vouchers that subsidize a portion of rent. Not all landlords accept Section 8 vouchers, so you’ll need to find a landlord who will work with you.

Individuals and Household Program (IHP)

Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the IHP provides financial assistance and services to people affected by a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.

Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP)

Overseen by the Department of Labor and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, HVRP is a federal grant that helps homeless veterans reintegrate into the workforce and secure stable housing.

USDA Rural Housing Services Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service offers programs that work to build or improve affordable housing and community facilities in rural areas. The entity’s Single Family Direct Loan Program provides low-income families with direct loans to help purchase or build homes. It also guarantees loans made by approved lenders to help low-income individuals and families buy homes in eligible areas.

Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA)

If you’ve lost your job or your hours have been reduced as a result of foreign trade, you may be eligible for TAA. This federal program provides assistance to impacted workers to help them transition to new employment opportunities.

Benefits.gov has a Benefit Finder questionnaire to help you find benefits you may be eligible for. You can also call 211 to locate resources in your community.

Nongovernmental programs

You can also get relocation support from various nongovernmental organizations.

Catholic Charities USA

Catholic Charities USA is a national network of local Catholic charities. It provides several different forms of housing assistance to vulnerable populations, including low-income families, veterans, senior citizens, refugees and more.

Housing Industry Foundation

The Housing Industry Foundation’s Emergency Housing Fund offers grants of up to $2,500 to support housing relocation for households threatened with homelessness.

Salvation Army

Through short-term financial assistance, case management and other resources, Salvation Army’s Housing Now program helps individuals and families experiencing homelessness achieve housing stability.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity provides affordable housing through home construction, renovation and repairs for low-income individuals and families. Habitat for Humanity also assists families with relocation in certain circumstances, like a job transfer.

Modest Needs

Low-income individuals and families who need emergency relocation assistance can get help from Modest Needs. This nonprofit offers a Self-Sufficiency Grant to help cover moving expenses. If you’re above the poverty level but still need financial assistance when it comes to relocation, you may be eligible for a Modest Needs grant. This nonprofit gives special consideration to public servants, such as teachers and first responders.

YWCA

In addition to providing emergency shelter, transitional housing and long-term housing to survivors of domestic violence, the YWCA may assist clients with other community services, including relocation assistance.

Local organizations and services

If you’re preparing for a move and need support, financial or otherwise, explore programs in your area. Look for tax deductions and discounts from moving companies, and check with local charities for help.

Below are some places to start.

Local religious organizations

Check with churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organizations near you to learn more about any relocation assistance programs you may be eligible for. Religious organizations value community and often have programs to help with emergency housing or offer financial support.

Local nonprofits

You may be able to apply for assistance through a nonprofit in your area. Explore charities and other nonprofit organizations in your area to see if there are any housing assistance programs you qualify for.

Employee assistance programs

Some employers, especially larger national companies, offer relocation assistance as a benefit when moving to a new city or state is required for work. These programs vary from employer to employer, so check with yours to find out what you’re eligible for.

Tax deductions

If your moving expenses are related to starting a new job, you may qualify for a tax deduction through the IRS. Check with a tax professional to learn more about your eligibility.

Moving discounts

Moving companies often offer some form of relocation assistance, which can include a range of services to make the moving process less stressful. Some companies offer discounts or special pricing for certain customers, like military personnel and senior citizens.

Where are you moving to?

FAQ

What is the difference between a relocation package and a relocation assistance program?

A relocation package is tied to employment, while a relocation assistance program is not. Employers may offer a relocation package to employees who have to relocate for work, though a relocation assistance program is a broader term that refers to the relocation assistance offered by various organizations to help relocate individuals and families for reasons not necessarily work-related.

Are there ways outside of grants that I can get help with moving expenses?

Yes, you can get help with moving costs outside of grants. Consider asking for donations from family and friends, and ask for help purchasing packing supplies or loading and unloading.

How do I request relocation assistance?

You can request relocation assistance through your employer by contacting the HR department or hiring manager. If you’re seeking relocation assistance outside of your job, reach out to local organizations or see if you’re eligible for federal grant programs.

Bottom line

Moving is stressful no matter what. To make things easier, you may be able to use a relocation assistance program to help with your move. You could qualify for various grants, loans and discounts offered by federal, national and local organizations.

There are several available relocation assistance programs, and the eligibility requirements vary from program to program. The best way to determine whether you’re eligible is to contact one of the organizations listed above.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Real Estate Acquisition and Relocation Overview in HUD Programs." Accessed April 9, 2024.
  2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "About Good Neighbor Next Door." Accessed April 9, 2024.
  3. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet." Accessed April 9, 2024.
  4. Federal Emergency Management Agency, "Individuals and Households Program." Accessed April 9, 2024.
  5. U.S. Department of Labor, "Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program." Accessed April 9, 2024.
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