The Coronavirus has made life harder. That might be the understatement of the year, though it is true. It is important to take a minute and realize some of the difficult things we have gone through in the past 6 months. As a housing non-profit, we have seen the struggle. Not only have we shown up to Zoom calls in pajamas and gained the COVID-19 (pounds), we have worked hard to help others maintain housing stability.
Renters and new homeowners have been struggling throughout the pandemic. Des Moines has always had many cost-burdened renters (meaning they spend 30% of their income on rent), the pandemic made this number rise exponentially.
We recently received a grant that helped us better support our communities and renters. With this grant, we are able to provide rental assistance. This program is called Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Homelessness Prevention. For pre-screening of every client, we will look at their income, their location within the state, and whether they tried other funding sources. From there, we will see if HOME, Inc. is the best fit for them or if another organization can better support the person in need. This is more specific to what the funding needs are. Some organizations can only help people at a certain income levels or communities they live in.
To qualify for HOME, Inc. ESG, they must live within Polk County to qualify for a state or city ESG. The person must have an eviction notice or meet the definition of At-Risk or Homelessness. This means the person does not have access to networks or resources that will prevent them from moving to an emergency shelter. If they meet these criteria a lot of boring paperwork will be done with the hope that everyone is on the same page and we can provide funding to the individual.
To continue the paperwork train, once the Program Director gives the go-ahead, a beautiful checklist is developed to complete more forms and then file them. Once we hop off the paperwork train we can allocate funding. We can help with utilities, back rent arrears, and next month’s rent. The client must be able to self-sustain after receiving the grant. They will demonstrate they can pay their rent. If the client is unable to do so we will continue to support them and provide case management.
This is one way we are trying to help our community recover from the pandemic. There is always more that can be done, but hopefully, we can help people take a deep breath and remain in their home.