Housing FAQ’s

Programs strive to individualize assistance based on clients needs and financial assistance is neither guaranteed nor permanent.

Emergency Shelter

I have no safe place to sleep. Is it best to seek shelter at an emergency shelter?
With health concerns from exposure and other safety issues, your household should strongly consider seeking shelter as opposed to staying in the elements

What are my options for Emergency Shelter? 

For Families –The Salvation Army of Winston-Salem Center of Hope
The Center of Hope is located at 1255 N.Trade Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Contact (336) 777-8611 for more information.

For Single individuals – The Bethesda Center for the Homeless- Bethesda Center for the Homeless offers emergency night shelter and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness in Forsyth County. Our new-guest intake occurs Monday-Thursday, 9:00 am- 12:00 pm. The Bethesda Center is located at 930 North Patterson Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Check in for shelter guests is between 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm daily. If someone has a job, we will accommodate working schedules. Additionally The Bethesda Center has a day shelter that is available to men and women 18 and older. The day shelter has a computer lab (open Monday-Friday 10:00 am-4:00 pm), resource room, showers (9:00 am-1:00 pm), laundry (9:00 am-1:00 pm), television room (The television comes on at 3:00 pm), microwave and community case management support.

For Single males – Samaritans Inn- Please contact the Samaritan for bed availability first. During the overflow season contact the overflow shelter and ask to enter Samaritan Inn if we have beds available. Contact the Samaritan at (336) 748-1962

Winston Salem Rescue Mission- The Winston-Salem Rescue Mission is located at 718 N.Trade Street, Winston-Salem NC 27101. Contact  (336) 723-1848 form more information.

For Victims of Domestic Violence – Family Services- Contact (336) 722-8173 for more information. Family Service’s Crisis line is (336) 723-8125

Next Step Ministries- Contact (336) 413-7054 for more information.

For Seasonal Shelters (December-March) – City with Dwellings – City with Dwellings operates an overflow shelter for homeless men and women December 1- March 31. You may check-in at 633 W. 4th St. from 7:00 pm- 7:30 pm. From this check-in site you will be given transportation to a shelter site where you will receive a warm meal and a  safe place to sleep until 6:30 am the following morning. No ID is needed. The overflow shelter works to provide space for everyone every night.  Contact (336) 918-7981 for further questions.

How do I get into shelter?
Contact the shelter you are interested in entering for more information on their entry requirements.

What if I have a criminal record?  Does it cost?  What are the rules?  How long can I stay? What happens with personal items when I enter into a shelter?
Emergency Shelters follow rules and regulations that are unique to their program. This allows them to provide guests with the best services and ensure their safety. Contact the local shelter providers to learn more about their program’s rules and entry requirements.

Will the shelter help me with housing?
When living in emergency shelter, financial assistance for housing is not guaranteed. Housing assistance is based on program eligibility and designated shelter staff will work with their guests toward housing stability.

If I can’t get into shelter or I choose not to live in a shelter, how can I get connected to housing resources?
The Empowerment Project and City with Dwellings are outreach providers that can help connect you to housing resources.

What housing options may be available to me?
Available housing options will depend on your particular circumstances and personal needs.

How do I qualify for assistance? How long will I have to wait if I qualify for assistance?
To assess your level of need designated shelter staff or outreach workers will ask you a series of questions based on your history and current circumstances.

If you qualify for assistance, your name will be added to the list of individuals seeking assistance and you will be contacted as services are available for your specific situation.

What type/amount of financial assistance might I receive?
The availability of financial assistance will depend on program eligibility. Programs vary in the amount of financial assistance and length of time clients can receive services.  With all programs financial assistance is limited and temporary.


How do I start the process of getting/finding housing?
If you have income, begin saving as much of the income as possible. From that income, calculate the amount of rent you can afford (30-40%) and begin your search. The internet is a good place to begin searching. Try www.nchousingsearching.org

Do I have choices as to where I will live?
The choices available to you are as unique as your situation.  If you are receiving assistance with rent, there are guidelines to the amount of rent that can be paid on your behalf and your program case manager will provide you with your housing choice options. Landlords vary as to their criteria for approval on the properties they own or manage.  Landlords may take into consideration amount of income, criminal background and credit report.

Does the housing I choose have to meet certain criteria?
If you are receiving rental assistance through a program, your housing choice will have to pass an inspection before that assistance can begin.  If you are not receiving program assistance, it’s recommended that you complete an inspection on the property yourself  Also, for program assistance, the size of the unit will have to be in proportion to the number of people in your household.

If you want to complete your own inspection click on the Pre-Lease Inspection Form

Pre-Lease Inspection Form

How long will it take to get into housing?
The goal is for you to be in housing within 30 days of being accepted in a housing program.

Each household situation is unique and some barriers may prevent a household from being in housing in 30 days.  The time it takes to get in housing also depends on the effort households put into finding a suitable housing unit that meets their needs.

What documents do I need to get into housing?
Documentation can vary depending on the program you are participating in including Emergency Shelter.  Most will require:

  • Government issued picture ID for each adult in household
  • Social Security card for each member of household
  • Birth certificates for all children in household
  • Documentation of all income
  • Documentation of disability
  • Documentation from shelters or outreach workers showing homeless status
  • Food Stamp award letter
  • Medicaid or insurance information
  • For veteran households, DD214

How long will I receive assistance?
Length of assistance varies on the specific program as well as the particular household needs and the household’s willingness to cooperate with the guidelines set by case management and the mutually developed Housing Stabilization Action contract.

Do I need income / be employed to receive assistance?
No. However, if you are unable to work you will need to be seeking income either through employment or SSI/SSDI/VA disability, etc.

When should I sign my lease?  When do I get my keys?
Do not sign the lease until it is ready for you to occupy, either a passed inspection notice from an inspector or an inspection/review of the property you have completed yourself.  Keys should be received when the lease is signed and security deposit, and possibly first month’s rent has been paid.

If you want to complete your own inspection click on the Pre-Lease Inspection Form.

Pre-Lease Inspection Form

Who can live with me in my household?
Your household members are your choice. Your landlord will want the names of all household occupants on the lease. If you are receiving program assistance, you will need to report all household members to your case manager and provide necessary documentation for each. If individuals move in with you who are not on the lease or included in your program information, you could be evicted and/ or lose financial assistance.

Do I have to be married to live with my significant other?
No, but all household members must be on the lease and enrolled in programs as a household.

How long does my lease have to be (months)?
Most housing programs require 12 month lease agreements. Most landlords do as well.

Am I eligible for a housing voucher?
Eligibility will depend on length of time homeless, documented disability and voucher availability.


What qualifies a veteran for service through veteran programs?
The qualifications for a veteran vary with the program(s) they may be participating in. For the Supportive Services for Veterans Programs, a veteran would need to have documentation of served active duty with honorable discharge.

How are programs funded?
Programs are funded by grants through federal funding, VA funding, or private funding.

TENANT Information

What if I have a criminal record?  What do landlords look for on a background check?
Landlords vary as to what they will or will not accept on someone’s criminal record.  It is best to contact the landlord and ask them directly regarding criminal background checks.

If you are receiving assistance through a housing program, the program case manager can assist you with names of landlords to contact.

What if I have evictions? Or owe utility companies?
For evictions, landlords vary as to what they are looking for on a credit report.  It is best to contact the landlord and ask before submitting an application.  If you are receiving assistance through a housing program, the program case manager can assist you with names of landlords to contact.

For utilities company arrears, any debt you owe will have to be paid before you can begin new service with the company.  If you are receiving assistance through a housing program, the program may be able to assist you with paying the past debt.  There are limits to the amount of assistance that can be provided for the purpose of paying utility arrears.

Contact 211 to be connected to services that assist with utilities.

What do I do if my landlord treats me unfairly?
If you have a case manager, contact your case manager for guidance and assistance with mediation.

If needed, repairs have been requested but not completed; you do have recourse through the legal system.  Refer to the Housing FAQ’s Brochure for additional information on how to file a small claims lawsuit.

What if my rights are violated?
The Fair Housing Ordinance of the City of Winston Salem prohibits the following acts based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or family status.  If you believe you are being discriminated against contact Winston Salem Human Relations Department at (336) 727-2429.

Housing FAQ Brochure

If you have any further questions refer to the City of W-S Landlord/Tenant FAQ  link below.