HRC – Innovative and Creative Housing Solutions

Posted On November 7, 2012 By | No Comments on HRC – Innovative and Creative Housing Solutions

In 2008, COTS launched the Housing Resource Center in an effort to prevent homelessness from overtaking struggling households.  The main purpose of the HRC is to help prevent at-risk households from losing their existing housing due to unforeseen circumstances and to allow those who are without permanent shelter to move more rapidly into stable housing.

70% of clients have a monthly income under $1000 per month.

In our outreach, the top reason for becoming at-risk of losing housing between July 2009 and June 2012 were primarily job loss or hours cut (35%).  Illness and medical issues came in at 17%, unexpected expense at 13% (1/3 of these being car repairs), and utilities at 8%.

Subsequently, the top reasons for becoming homeless were eviction (16%), domestic violence/child abuse (12%), overcrowding/under-housed (10%), mental health/physical disability (8%), and family conflict (7%).

In the July 2008 – June 2012 period, the HRC program has assisted 2,026 households in Chittenden County.  This represents 4,844 individuals, 2,054 of whom are children, and the cooperation of 650 landlords.  Of those, the HRC prevented eviction and foreclosure for 1319 households, representing 3,268 people, 1,383 of whom are children.

Moving those without sufficient shelter more quickly into steady housing is also a priority at the HRC, and through Security Deposit Assistance, the HRC moved 707 households from homelessness to housing.  This represents 1558 individuals moving into stable housing; 671 of whom are children.

More recently, the Housing Resource Center Security Deposit Loan Program was launched in January 2011 in partnership with North Country Federal Credit Union.  This program allows qualified households to borrow a security deposit allowing them to move into housing and to rebuild or establish credit. The Loan Fund also leverages funding allowing more households to be served with a smaller cash reserve.

Of the 10 households that have exited the Security Deposit Loan Program, 70% successfully repaid their loan in full.  Of the 12 households that are currently participating in Security Deposit Loan Program, 58% are on schedule with their payments.

Over a 5 year period, $15,000 can fund 46 security deposit loans*; the same $15,000 can only provide 17 grants.

Keeping people in housing is not only more cost effective (A single HRC grant covering back rent or a security deposit ranges from $788-$915 compared to $5880 for a family’s 84 day stay in a state funded Emergency Assistance Motel stay), it saves a family’s credit, standing, and dignity from eroding under the strains that homelessness exerts.

Of 1385 unique households, fewer than 9% have been assisted more than once.

For these reasons, we continue to pursue prevention as an effective treatment to the rising number of homeless in our community.  We seek your continued support and forward vision as we carry on this very important work.

Still, there are some challenges in prevention.  Early intervention, client engagement, funding levels and tracking the effectiveness of assistance is not always easy to achieve.

These challenges call for creative solutions.  We need to work towards a continued increase in collaboration and effective communication with our community partners, increased collaboration and sharing of ideas with other HRF providers statewide, continued refinement of our systems and data tracking, and the ability to require rental payments to come directly from state assistance programs.

*Based on a one-time $15K allocation with a 65% loan repayment rate.

Categories: Homeless Prevention, Homelessness
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