Community housing for the homeless
In our last blog post, we shared with you that one of the primary contributing factors to homelessness is lack of affordable housing. With that fact in mind, the Coalition has established two community housing programs to move clients from emergency shelter into stable, affordable housing. These two HUD-funded programs, Scattered Site and Housing Now, provide clients with rental assistance, case management, and supportive services to help them re-establish households in the community.
The Coalition’s goal is for everyone who enters these programs to emerge successfully. Therefore, clients must meet certain eligibility criteria and demonstrate the commitment to living independently. Each housing program has different requirements for acceptance, which determines the type of assistance offered. Despite their differences, both the Scattered Site and Housing Now programs share the common objective of helping clients to live affordably on their own.
Scattered Site is a rental assistance program for those referred by a homeless shelter, transitional housing program or substance abuse program (whether the Coalition’s or others in the community). Both individuals and families are eligible for the one-year program, as long as they can prove that they have had an income for the past 90 days and at least $1,000 in savings. The amount of assistance received is determined by the client’s income and expenses. Credits are given for the client’s number of dependents, childcare expenses and utility expenses. The services received are contingent upon the client’s ability to pay their portion of the monthly rent on time, be a good tenant, commit to case management, and participate in a savings plan.
Housing Now, a rapid re-housing program, differs from Scattered Site in that it targets only newly-homeless families with dependent children. Families are placed in rental housing and provided case management services in their own home. In order to be eligible for the six or twelve month program, clients must be referred by an emergency shelter, or another approved service provider if they are living on the street. Clients must also have at least one moderate barrier, such as temporary financial strain, poor credit history, insufficient childcare, and/or inadequate education skills, etc. Once approved, families are provided rental assistance that will pay for 100% of the security deposit and, in most cases, their first month’s rent. To help clients gain independence, the amount of assistance the family receives gradually decreases each month. Because the families must pay a portion of their rent, a consistent income is recommended. Similar to Scattered Site, the families are expected to pay their rent on time, be a good tenant and commit to case management.
These community housing programs instill responsibility, self-sufficiency and accountability, with the intent of curtailing the cycle of homelessness in our community. As of this writing, 30 families are participating in the Coalition’s community housing programs. That’s a total of 106 adults and children!
We know our work is not finished and there’s much to be done to address the issue of homelessness; but with the community’s help and programs like these, we believe we are making a difference!