Nonprofit spotlight: Lack of affordable housing creates challenges for House of Refuge

Since 1996, House of Refuge has helped homeless families find transitional housing and the resources necessary to obtain permanent housing.

 

The organization acquired 88 homes, a chapel and an office building in Southeast Mesa where Williams Air Force Base was formerly located. Furnished homes are provided along with clothing, food, employment and education services.

 

Eligible candidates must have at least one minor child who is fleeing domestic violence, at risk of becoming homeless or be a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy. Families who qualify for services must sign a lease and agree to pay $400 a month, which includes utilities.

 

A challenge lately, however, has been the lack of affordable housing. Families may complete all their goals while in the program, but the shortage of affordable housing hinders their progress. Many families move in with relatives to continue to meet financial savings goals.

 

“While living at House of Refuge, a family may increase income, improve credit score, pay off debt and improve their education, but if monthly rent payments on their rental after living at House of Refuge are more than 30% of their income it may drive the family back into poverty,” said House of Refuge’s Krista Cardona.

 

In October, the House of Refuge received a $4,700 A Community Thrives grant from the Gannett Foundation. Gannett Co., Inc., owns The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Statewide, 16 nonprofits shared more than $333,000 of Community Thrives funds this year.

 

What is your organization’s mission? 

 

House of Refuge is a faith-based, non-profit organization helping homeless families by providing transitional housing and support services that assist residents towards self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

 

What needs and or basic services is your organization providing?

 

House of Refuge provides homes and wrap-around social services to Arizona families experiencing homelessness. Education and work are invaluable. We provide stability to a family by providing a home and then help them set and achieve goals that will aid in their transition to sustainable housing within 12 months.

 

How many individuals are served?

 

Every day we house 250 individuals, 150 of them are children living in our neighborhood of 88 homes.

 

How will you spend your Community Thrives grant?  

 

The Community Thrives grant will support our Adopt-a-Home program, which helps support families in their homes for up to 12 months. Our Adopt-a-Home program not only helps provide a home for a family and the maintenance and utility costs but also supports the on-site wrap-around services that help change families’ lives.

 

How do you gauge your success?  

 

Heads of households work closely with their case manager to identify the root causes of homelessness in their lives. They work together on creating goals that center around employment, income, financial education, parenting skills, budgeting and other issues that aid in their transition to self-sufficiency.

 

Case managers and staff celebrate the completion of those goals. We have a five-year and 85% success rate of transitioning families from homelessness to housing.

 

What are your organization’s greatest needs?

 

We depend on the time and talent of volunteers to fulfill our mission. Our Helping Hands House donation center relies on the donation of gently used clothing and household goods and welcomes the public to donate their items. We also rely on the generosity of the community to fund our operations.

 

Can you share a personal story that represents and aligns with your organization’s mission

 

One of our residents was living in her car after leaving an abusive relationship. Due to her circumstances, she was forced to leave her two young sons with their father.

 

She was offered a free membership at a local gym through her work. After sleeping in her car at night she would take early morning showers at the gym to get dressed for work.

 

When the pandemic hit, gyms were forced to close. Everyone in her office was sent home to work remotely. However, she had no place to live nor internet access. Through the services of the program, she was provided stable housing and internet access. With the support of the staff, she was able to pay off her debt while saving for an apartment.

 

She later earned a promotion and a raise at work and moved her family into permanent housing. If it were not for the support from House of Refuge, she feels this would have not been possible for her.

 

Republic reporter Roxanne De La Rosa covers Arizona’s nonprofit community. Reach her at rdelarosa@azcentral.com.

 

SOURCE: Arizona Republic

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