provides energy efficiency and indoor air quality improvements by implementing cost-effective measures for existing single and multi-family housing with low-income residents.
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More than housing – making a home.Too many people are finding themselves caught in our national housing crisis. With vacancy rates are as low as 1% around the state, the dwindling supply of safe, stable, and affordable units are often too expensive for many who need them and they are left with nowhere to go. Seventeen Community Action Agencies (CAAs) around the state are working to change that. By combining and leveraging a variety of resources – especially the Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) fund and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP) – our CAAs succeed in helping Oregonians secure housing and create homes. Here are some of the stories of families and individuals who are thriving with support they are getting from their local CAA.
- Charles – Oregon Coast Community Action A housing scam left Charles and his wife living in their car for more than a year. They now have a comfortable home.
- Ana and Vanessa – Insights Teen Parent Services These two teenaged moms struggled, until case management and housing support helping them into safe stable homes of their own.
- Bodhi – ShelterCare Now a case worker for more than a decade, Bodhi shares his story of a childhood marred by abuse, running away at 15, homelessness, survival on the streets, and reflects on how the right support can change lives for the better.
- “Lisa” – NeighborImpact Domestic violence forced a mother and two sons from their home. Despite having family willing to help, Lisa needed additional supports to rebuild her life and care for her boys. Read and share her story.
- Deanna – NeighborImpact With little more than the clothes on their backs, Deanna and her son escaped domestic violence but found it much more difficult than expected to find a job and a new home. Even with 20+ years of administrative experience, Maria and her son needed help from her local Community Action Agency to recover and flourish. Read and share her story.
- “Karen and Viktor” – Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP) From living in a tent, to receiving a housing voucher, to comprehensive case management, to a stable home and employment – this young couple was able to address their complex array of needs because HOAP helped them navigate an equally complex system. Read and share their story.
- Katie – Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) As a young, unexpectedly single mother, Katie needed more than her current job provided in order to cover the costs of child care so that she could continue working and afford appropriate housing. Salem IHN connected her to the tools and partners she needed to secure a home and safe care for her toddler. Read and share her story.
- Ellen – Mid-Columbia Community Action CouncilFor decades, Ellen* was married to a violent alcoholic. Having grown up in an alcoholic home, for the longest time, she didn’t know there were other options. She became a brilliant homemaker, raised four children, endured the binges and rages, finding solace in the beauty of her meticulous gardens. When the children grew up and moved out, Ellen found the courage for change and filed for divorce. Never allowed to work outside the home while she was married, Ellen now needed to find a job and pay all the bills. She registered to work as a caregiver, picked up several clients, budgeted and saved. But over time, her health declined, reducing her ability to work, and Ellen lost her home of more than 30 years. MCCAC used NEW EHA funds to help Ellen with a deposit and first month’s rent on a house affordable enough to accommodate a HUD Section 8 voucher for which she has applied. Ellen once again has gardens that need tending and a cost of living that will keep her in a home! Total cost, $1,080. Read and share her story.
- Jessica – Mid-Columbia Community Action CouncilJessica* is a veteran who, due to her severe PTSD, has trouble leaving the house and cannot keep a job. Despite all the compelling evidence and a good attorney, it is taking significant time for the VA to approve her disability claim. Honorably discharged from the military one year ago, Jessica lived for months in her car until a friend offered some financial help and she got an apartment. The challenge: How to keep it going? Unable to work, she resorted to selling most everything she had, including her jewelry, the car she had lived in, her plasma, and ultimately sex – so she could stay off the street, so she could pay the rent. Eventually she got yet another 72-hour eviction notice; Jessica was out of options. Someone told her about MCCAC and that the agency might help her avoid becoming homeless again. In the smallest whisper, she shared her story with the caseworker, revealing her strengths, joys, hopes, and fears. She expressed how difficult she found it to ask for help, as a woman and as a veteran, adding that in her family, she was always the one who held everyone together. MCCAC used New EHA-HP funds to keep Jessica from losing her home, and together they developed a short-term rent assistance plan that would ensure housing stability until the VA approved her disability. Jessica continued to work with her caseworker for months. Happily, she recently married her best friend, whose new job promises to be enough to pay for their rent in the near future. Keeping Jessica off the streets through New EHA funds cost a mere $1,350. Read and share her story.
- Sam and Maya – Mid-Columbia Community Action Council Sam,* a disabled veteran, and his partner, Maya,* are caring for their four children – the youngest only seven months old. With the added burdens of disability and unemployment, the family was literally on the streets and without income when Maya came to MCCAC to ask for help. Sam had landed in the hospital with a terrible infection and there was talk of amputating his leg. Faced with this devastating prospect, Maya and Sam knew they needed help. Hood River has no emergency shelters and, like much of the state, an extreme housing shortage. MCCAC used new SHAP funds to put the family into a motel until permanent housing could be secured. By working with our Housing Authority, which prioritizes disabled veterans for its HUD Section 8 program, Sam and his family were able to move from the motel to a mobile home in a park using a HUD Section 8 voucher. Securing this safe, affordable housing is key to ensuring long-term health and stability for Sam, Maya, and their children. Read and share her story.
- Suzanne– Mid-Columbia Community Action Council Suzanne* and two children had been living in a trailer in a friend’s driveway since last spring when she first came to MCCAC. Her youngest son, Martin, an avid biology student, has a passion for amphibians. They arrived for a first appointment accompanied by a small tree frog in a plastic box that Martin had converted into a terrarium. With admiration and excitement, the boy demonstrated how the little frog’s skin would change color, depending upon the background it was placed on. The first day of school was fast approaching; the boys were excited, but Suzanne worried that her sons would be homeless again this school year. Finally, an apartment in a subsidized complex became available; but, it required the rent and deposit up front or they’d offer it to the next person in line. The family’s $500/month income, received at the start of that month, was long spent. After all, it costs much more to feed a family when you have no stove and no refrigerator for storing food. MCCAC used new EHA-RRH funds to pay Suzanne’s first month pro-rated rent and her security deposit. With this investment of only $347, the boys started school in a stable, safe, affordable apartment. Read and share her story.
- Cherrie and Eric Schwartz – NeighborImpact Young love is what brought Eric and Cherrie Schwartz to Central Oregon in 1971. A love of family, fresh air, and their charming log home is what kept them here. So when the couple’s heating system failed last spring, they were worried sick about how to afford a new one. Would they have to take out a second mortgage? Would they lose their home? Would the stress take a further toll on Eric’s health? For years their primary source of heat was a wood stove and Eric chopped wood during the summer and fall. But after Eric’s stroke in 2013, the couple had to rely on their old furnace that, after thousands of dollars-worth of repairs, limped along until April of this year. That was right about the time when Eric and Cherrie discovered NeighborImpact’s Weatherization Program. “We received energy assistance for a few years after Eric’s stroke so we knew about NeighborImpact,” says Cherrie. “Then, when we attended an Energy Education workshop at the NeighborImpact office, we found out about your furnace replacement and Weatherization programs and knew right away we needed to learn more.” They inquired about the program and soon found that they qualified for home weatherization and a full heat system replacement. Over the period of a few months, NeighborImpact Weatherization and Energy Assistance crews collaborated to add generous amounts of fiberglass insulation, install weather stripping, and replace the furnace with a new system. Now the Cherrie and Eric are prepared for a warm and comfortable winter in the home they love and will be celebrating 45 years of marriage in October. “We can now sleep well at night knowing that we are safe and that we will have a warm place to be this winter,” says Eric. “This program has given us peace of mind, reduced our stress, and we now have a calmer existence.” “We raised four children in this home and we never ever want to leave,” says Cherrie. “And thanks to NeighborImpact, we don’t have to,” adds Eric. Read and share their story.
- Marion – NeighborImpact At 82, Marion is enjoying life once again! She purchased her 1912 fixer upper in 1993 and remodeled it. At just 640 square feet, she called it her mini mansion! However, 20+ years later she realized that her home lacked the insulation and heating system necessary to keep her warm and healthy throughout the winter months. As she saw her heating bills rising, she knew she needed help. “I received a note in the mail from NeighborImpact to attend a meeting on saving energy and I said, “Why not?” said Marion. “During the meeting, I learned about the Weatherization program. It took a year on the waiting list, but when it happened, it happened quickly.” Marion qualified for a home energy audit and was enrolled in the Weatherization program. Mike Waitt and Judy Swendsen performed the audit and determined that a ductless heat pump would provide a substantial energy savings for Marion’s home. Using project data and REM-Design energy modeling software, estimated savings of over $500 per year are projected – a reduction of 55% for this home’s heating bill. Work crews were dispatched and the work was completed within a few weeks. “Mike and Judy take such good care of you. I’m so thankful,” explains Marion. “I tell everybody that NeighborImpact really looks out for you! I feel like I really do live in a mansion now!” When Marion is not tooling around in her garden or sitting in her rocking chair in her living room, she goes to luncheons and spreads the word about NeighborImpact. “I tell everybody. I go to luncheons where I stand up and say, “Thank you, NeighborImpact and thank you taxpayers!” and my friends say, “Oh God, NeighborImpact is taking such good care of you. They’re really looking out for you. Maybe one day I’ll call NeighborImpact too.” Read and share her story.
Get More InformationDownload a short data sheet for more detail on how programs like EHA and SHAP help Oregonians. You can further explore these issues through the presentations from our 2016 Symposium. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Opening Keynote: Social Determinants of Health David Erickson, Director, Center for Community Development Investments, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
- Neighborhood Adversity, Child Health, and the Role for Community Development Pediatrics
- Is a child’s zip code more important than their genetic code in determining their health and success? Larry Wallack, Ph.D., Prof. of Public Health, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State University, OR
- How can we dramatically reduce the cost of building affordable housing so we are not building it on the backs of poor people? Rob Justus, Co-founder, Home First Development and Executive Director, CASH Oregon