Program Update: Stable Families Program

Our Stable Families Program targets extremely low-income families with children enrolled in Des Moines Public school who are at risk of homelessness. HOME, Inc. receives referrals from school success counselors, homeless shelters, partner landlords, partner human service agencies and Legal Aid. HOME, Inc. conducts an intake and assessment to determine family needs and eligibility. Families  who don’t meet the eligibility guidelines are referred and assisted in applying to other programs such as General Assistance, transitional housing or Shelter+ Care.

Family Profile

Since its inception in 2012, StableFamilies 78 families with a total of 240children and 195 school-aged children have participated in the program.

The following is a snapshot of thedemographics and characteristics of those families:

  • Average annual family income at entry is $13,200, which increases at the three-six month follow-up to $19,284
  • Number of children in the household range from one to 10, with an average of three children per family.
  • Majority are minority single-mother families.
  •  Families referred to the program are almost always at least 1.5 months behind in rent and have past due utility bills. Initial assistance is general around $1,500 to keep the family in their current housing situation.
Families referred to the programare typically facing several housing and socio-economic barriers:

  • Low paying jobs with very few or no benefits, which are often temporary positions with no job security.
  • Most adult members of the families have a High School Diploma or GED but lack higher education or solid work history.
  • Medical or maternity leave resulting in lost wages.
  • Unexpected expenses (most common are car repairs).
  • Wage garnishment from past credit issues.
  • Lack of transportation—this contributes to both employment and child school stability.
  • Criminal, rental history, and credit barriers often translates to expensive rent or less than favorable living conditions.

How It Works

Families that are eligible for theStable Family program are below 30% of Area Median Income ($22,450 for a familyof 4), have minor children enrolled in Des Moines Public schools, candemonstrate risk of losing their housing and can show a temporary financialcrisis has led to their situation. HOME, Inc. provides mediation and counselingto work with the client’s landlord to retain their housing. HOME, Inc. providesfinancial assistance for past due rent or utilities to eliminate the threat ofeviction, termination or utility disconnect.

A case manager and client then develop a family goal plan aimed at overcomingthe barriers, which have caused the threat to their housing. This includesapplying for mainstream benefits, developing budget skills, learning theirhousing responsibilities, working on personal goals (typically seeking mentalor physical health treatment, acquiring skills training or higher education, orseeking jobs with higher compensation), and ensuring that the children attendschool.

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