Community Housing Resource Center staff are very proud of our clients’ success stories. Every time we file away a signed lease in a client’s file, there is a shared joy and sense of hope for the future. It takes courage and hard work to take the steps that lead to getting out of shelter, off the street, and back into permanent housing. We applaud and admire the folks we work with who have shown us that perseverance pays off. Follow some of our success stories:
The Rapid Re-Housing Challenge, sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, re-housed 545 families experiencing homelessness in Virginia. Over the past year, Community Housing Resource Center was one of 34 organizations across Virginia that participated in trainings, policy building, and learning collaborations, culminating in the 100 Day Challenge from October 17, 2013 to January 24, 2014 and then in the look back at accomplishments on February 11, 2014 in Richmond at the Virginia Statewide Rapid ReHousing Challenge Celebration.
Gathering in the Patrick Henry building in Richmond, were 58 representatives of the challenge, to hear supportive words and hope for the future of housing the homeless from Governor McAuliffe office and participating agencies. As part of the celebration, peer voted awards were given, with CHRC taking home the “Most Popular” award, recognizing their efforts in encouraging a community of strong collaborations among the area Continuum of Care, Learning Collaborative members, landlords, local agencies and shelters, including: The City of Roanoke, Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, TRUST House, The Roanoke Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army, Salem Veteran’s Administration, Total Action for Progress, and more. Matt Crookshank, Director of CHRC, and Heather Brush, Housing Coordinator for CHRC, happily accepted this acknowledgment.
Phyllis Chamberlain, the Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, started the day off by encouraging the group to applaud our own efforts, and applaud the families who were housed. It was encouraging to hear congratulations and support from Paul Reagan, Governor McAuliffe’s Chief of Staff, and to have understanding and recognition from Dr. William Hazel, Jr., Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Through this process, CHRC has received much valued guidance from Kay Moshier McDivitt of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. It was a pleasure to have one more day with her encouraging smile. Norm Suchar, Director of Capacity Building at the National Alliance, gave overwhelming praise to the Challenge participants by letting us know that Virginia is acting as a model in Rapid ReHousing across the country, with several states already calling to participate in similar programs and challenges. Kathy Robertson, Associate Director in Homeless and Special Needs Housing at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, showed much appreciation for the 545 families housed during the challenge, while Pamela Kestner, the Homeless Outcomes Coordinator, and Jill Fox of the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, applauded the efforts of the group and set our sights on the future of housing the homeless. Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Maurice Jones, (most recently the Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration) spoke to the group and received many nodding heads and whispers of, “He gets it,” from the audience. It is good to have such people to encourage our work, acknowledge the challenges, and understand the needs of those who are homeless.
Elisha was referred to CHRC by a transitional housing worker, for rapid rehousing in early December. Elisha was nervous about living on her own and was not all that certain about her hopes for success. She was working part time for a retail chain and did not have promise of very steady hours, though it was implied that she would get more hours with the holiday rush. A housing search led to an apartment where the gas heat and hot water, and laundry was included, and soon Elisha moved in. In January, her work hours were cut and Elisha grew nervous over the electric bill. She began searching for better employment; applied for assistance with Goodwill Industries to help with job search and resume writing. The apartment had two bedrooms and Elisha also sought out a roommate to help with the cost of living. By March, and the time of discharge from the Rapid ReHousing program, Elisha was able to bring in a friend to take the other bedroom and split the rent. She was feeling more comfortable in her housing and her quest for better employment. The transitional housing center continued its case management with Elisha for some time after her being placed in housing and was obviously a great moral support.
Three of our Rapid ReHousing families were featured on the front cover of the Roanoke Times on Sunday, January 19, 2014.
“Roanoke Valley nonprofits help homeless in quest for stability”
Late in April of 2013, Clare Brown walked into the CHRC a very pregnant woman; she was scheduled for a cesarean section birth on May 7 and needed housing. Clare had been at the TAP TLC for four months and at the Roanoke Rescue Mission for two months before that. Her income was $724 a month, from TANF and child support; Clare had a job lined up to begin soon after the birth of her third child, mid-May. A very rapid housing search was done and inspection completed at Clare’s chosen apartment. Minor repairs were necessary and the landlord willingly worked with CHRC to address these issues. A special deposit incentive through the National Alliance to End Homelessness grant was provided and Clare and her children were able to move in very soon after the baby’s birth. Continued rental subsidy was provided through the Homeless Solutions Grant for two months. Clare’s plans were to include obtaining her General Equivalency Diploma and work on budgeting goals as well as continuing her participation in the Women Infants and Children program through the Health Department. Clare’s biggest goal was to create a new circle of support for herself and her children, acknowledging that past choices of friends had not been good for them. Suggestions for community support through the public libraries, Boys & Girls Club and Blue Ridge Literacy were offered, as well as continued moral support through CHRC.
Early in August of 2013, Cara contacted CHRC, seeking assistance in housing. She and her two young adult children, and young grandchild, were living in hotels after job losses caused them to lose their housing. They were referred to Family Promise of Greater Roanoke. Their stay with Family Promise began and just three days later, Aaron Dowdy, Program Manager, referred the family back to CHRC for Rapid ReHousing. All three adults were working or beginning new jobs and just needed assistance in getting a lease started. In partnership with ReBuilding Together Roanoke, Community Housing Resource Center, and Family Promise, the family was able to move in to a recently renovated and beautiful duplex. The family did not need a continuing subsidy but they will receive continued case management and moral support through Family Promise for the duration of their one year lease with RTR.
In April of 2013, Amy and her four children were at the end of allowable stay time at the Roanoke Rescue Mission, having resided there since December 2012, and were anxious to find suitable permanent housing. A case manager at the Rescue Mission referred Amy to CHRC for Rapid ReHousing. Before Amy arrived at the Mission, she and her children had stayed with Total Action for Progress’ Transitional Living Shelter for five months. Amy’s only income was in the form of child support and food stamps. Within a week of searching for suitable permanent housing, Amy found a small house to rent and was able to move in with the help of the Homeless Solutions Grant fund which provided her security deposit, first month’s rent, utility deposit and a declining subsidy rental assistance for two months. Amy expressed interest in attending parenting classes to help her interactions with her four children, ages 10, 9, 8 and 7 as well as obtaining family counseling. Resources were shared with Amy by her CHRC case manager. At the time of her discharge from the HSG program, Amy was going to counseling with her children as well as with her estranged husband and was hopeful for a reunification of the family.
In late November of 2012, the director of the Botetourt Resource Center called to refer a family to Community Housing Resource Center’s Rapid ReHousing Program. Alison and her husband Richard had been staying in a tent in a relative’s yard and had two of their children sleeping in a pop-up camper beside them. The youngest child was sleeping in the relative’s house, being only one year old. The family had lost their income due to Alison’s development of post partum depression and was only surviving on Richard’s disability benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families through Social Services. The Botetourt Resource Center verified homelessness and the family was brought in to fill in an application for housing assistance. At the same time, an application was submitted to Total Action for Progress’ Permanent Supportive Housing program, and an apartment in Vinton. The family was approved for all applications and with the National Alliance to End Homelessness grant fund was able to move in to their new housing before the holidays. Over the course of the next five months, declining subsidy rental payments were made on their behalf to TAP. Mainstream Mental Health Services in Daleville, VA kept Alison on as a client and at the end of her time with CHRC Alison felt ready to return to work, and was better handling her ongoing depression.