New grant awarded for innovative model to help families move beyond shelters and overflow motels
BURLINGTON – We announce the new Family Supportive Housing Grant Award of $130,000 from the VT Agency of Human Services that launches a program to increase housing options available for families. The project brings together a unique partnership between the Champlain Housing Trust, COTS, and the Howard Center that will leverage the expertise and resources of each organization to create a bridge back to permanent housing for those without homes.
This innovative model creates transitional housing for 12-15 families by leveraging public funding with private foundation support. The program launches a solution that moves families away from shelters and motels and toward housing and the skills needed to maintain that housing for the long term.
Here’s how it works – the key prongs of the model:
- 5 units of housing will be provided by the Champlain Housing Trust at Winchester Place in Colchester. COTS will master lease these units on behalf of families who are homeless and regaining housing through this program. These families will pay COTS a program fee in lieu of rent to develop a housing payment track record. These funds will then be used to subsidize the cost of rent in the second year of the program.
- A master’s level, clinically trained mental health clinician from the HowardCenter, called a “Family Supportive Housing Coordinator,” will provide intensive services to families throughout their first year of housing. The FSH Coordinator will collaborate with COTS staff and other service providers to provide a high level of support to participating families.
- COTS Housing Resource Center will help families with the lease agreements, assist with credit repair, and regaining financial stability. COTS’ HRC will administer the “Pay It Forward Fund,” described below. COTS staff also will search for additional rental units to add to this program.
- Families will be provided with a host of resources to help them become financially stable. These include connection to financial literacy programs, budgeting, assistance with banking arrangements, and tax filing.
Other exciting aspects:
- The “Pay It Forward Fund” is a creative “self-subsidy” approach that will help ensure families are successful in housing in the second year. Here’s how it works: COTS’ HRC will administer the “Pay It Forward Fund,” which will enable participants to accrue matched-savings during their first year of housing. Participants will pay a program fee of $150 to COTS in lieu of $900 rent to CHT. Program fees will be deposited into the “Pay-It-Forward Fund” and will be matched 2:1 during their first year of program participation. This means participants will pay their monthly program fee of $150 into the Fund and will have their contribution matched with an additional $300 each month. At the end of their first year of housing, households will have accumulated $5,400. This amount will serve as the primary subsidy for their second year of housing. During the second year of housing, families will be responsible for paying $450 rent per month. The remaining amount will be matched by the “Pay It Forward Fund.” By the third year of housing, it is expected that families will transition into independent housing. This service team will support families through these transitions in housing payment responsibilities to avoid any challenges/barriers that could interfere with program participation.
About Champlain Housing Trust:
The Champlain Housing trust, founded in1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHTS manages 1,750 apartments, stewards more than 520 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, offers homebuyer education and financial counseling, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and makes affordable energy-efficiency and rehab loans.
About the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS):
COTS, founded in 1982, provides emergency shelter to homeless families and individuals, homelessness prevention, services and outreach to those who are homeless or marginally housed. COTS also offers transitional and permanent housing to low-income families and individuals. COTS is the largest shelter and service provider for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Vermont.
HowardCenter offers life-saving professional crisis and counseling services to children and adults; supportive services to individuals with autism and developmental disabilities who need help with education, employment, and life maintenance skills; counseling and medical services for those struggling with substance abuse, and intensive interventions for adults with serious and persistent mental health challenges. HowardCenter serves more than 15,000 individuals and families every year.