In May of 2018, HOME, Inc. was contacted by a property manager regarding his situation with a family and asking for advice. He stated they always paid their rent on time and had no complaints, but was in a dilemma due to this family being over the city occupancy code. The family are refugees from the Congo and had been in the US for 18 months. They had been “placed” at this three-bedroom apartment by a refugee services agency upon their arrival to the US but have now outgrown it.
The father, John, has held a full-time job at DeeZee Manufacturing plant, but with 8 children, finances are tough, making it difficult for them to save enough for moving costs, let alone deposit and first month’s rent on a larger home.
A HOME, Inc. housing counselor met with the father at the end of May to discuss his family needs and what he could afford. An average 4 bedroom home in DSM can easily be $1,300 and up, which they simply could not afford.
The housing counselor contacted the Housing Navigator at Primary Health Care (PHC) Centralized Intake since she has some relationships with landlords and regularly looks at properties. She did look at a couple of places, but they were still not large enough for the family. Our counselor began searching online, spoke with landlords, and finally found one landlord that did have one open rental house with large enough square footage to meet DSM city code requirements. Most importantly, this landlord was willing to help this family of 10.
The property was close to all the schools the family needed and the kids could even walk if need be. The rent was just under $1,000. A HOME, Inc. counselor contacted the father, gave the address, and he and his oldest son went to look at the property. He was very excited that there was a full basement, garage, and yard for the kids to play. The counselor assisted them with the application and they personally took it to the landlord as they wanted to meet her. The landlord approved the application.
Our counselor made sure the father had all the necessary information for moving, such as contact information for all the utility companies, school locations, and registration information, how to do an address change, etc. Our executive director spoke with an employee at Polk County General Assistance and our counselor referred the father there to see if they could receive financial help with first month’s rent. They were approved, which made the move much less financially stressful, allowing this family to “stay on their feet”.
After they got settled in, our counselor checked back in and gave information on applying for free school lunches, where to find free backpacks and supplies for school and information on the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help further with their finances.
The counselor also made sure the father received information on signing up for Section 8 housing assistance and he completed the application on July 19th.