Direct Housing Assistance provides small amounts of cash to help families stay out of crisis
Direct Housing Assistance helps to reduce the burden of housing costs. The program is open to any family that receives services from Wilder and meets eligibility criteria. In addition, these families can refer other family members – even if those family members don’t participate in any programs. Wilder adapted the assistance to support whole families by ensuring we were not only providing housing stability for the families that we serve but also their immediate family members.
Participants can be homeowners or renters. They receive $3,000 paid over 12 months to their vendor. Participants receive $350 for the first six months, $200 for three months and $100 for three months.
Even this relatively small amount helps families stay out of crisis and, in some cases, take a step forward to making big choices that will improve their lives.
“We’ve seen families who get caught up on rent or they’re able to pay down their mortgage,” says Joela Davis, housing case manager. “Others have been able to start small businesses or pursue education.”
The goal is to both support and empower participants in Wilder programs.
“We believe folks know what’s best for their lives. They don’t always need somebody telling them what to do,” says Antonia Coleman, who manages special initiatives at Wilder, including Direct Housing Assistance. “We trust that they’re setting goals, setting a plan, and making progress.”
Direct Housing Assistance gives Jamie some breathing room in her budget
Jamie has always been proud of her ability to cover her housing costs. She collects disability payments and some assistance from the state, but she also donates plasma and resells treasures that she finds at local thrift stores.
Nearly all of her cash goes towards paying a mortgage on the mobile home she owns and its lot rent.
The DHA payments have given her some financial breathing room. For example, she was able to purchase new clothes for her two elementary-aged boys to wear to school. She made some progress towards paying off her mortgage.
“It’s been so long since I’ve had extra money,” Jamie says. “This is the first time I’ve ever had any help with my housing bills.”
In addition to housing support, Jamie qualified for other services like a back-to-school backpack program that provided school supplies for the year. She also was able to refer two other adult family members to the program. They have just started receiving the housing assistance.
Referrals help build stability, Joela says. If one family members doesn’t have stable housing, it can create instability for others.
“We want the whole family to succeed, the whole village,” he says. “It’s about building community.”
Stable housing helps Jamie's family thrive
Jamie has been mostly sober for eight years. She says that if she didn’t have stable housing, it would be harder to keep her family together and thriving.
Without stable housing, it would be harder for her boys to stay in school, she says. She is extremely happy with the school district they live in and can’t imagine what would happen to her boys if they had to move.
“This journey has taken a toll on my psyche, my family and my children,” she says. “Living life (sober) is so much better. I hope everything continues in the right direction.”
That’s exactly why Wilder offers the DHA program, Antonia says. It gives families a chance to make the best decisions for themselves.
“Our participants are survivors. They’re thriving and they’re navigating systems to be successful,” she says. “Our message to them is that they’re competent; they can do this. Sometimes they just need a little support.”