How HOME Inc. Works to Assist those in Need of Affordable Housing

In December, the New York Times ran an article that included a quote from Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development that was both startling and yet not surprising for those of us who advocate for affordable housing solutions.
“We are in the midst of the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known,” Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said at a conference on Monday.
As the country continues to struggle to recover from the housing crisis that has plagued everyone throughout the past five years, this is not an overstatement. And, Greater Des Moines hasn’t been exempt. Perhaps it isn’t the worst affordable housing crisis our community has ever known, but we have a number of our own problems.
There are fewer options because as housing prices go up and borrowing opportunities remain limited, housing at the lower end of the cost spectrum becomes scarce. In addition, the Recession and the slow recovery has exposed a significant number of people who do not understand the basics of being fiscally responsible enough to either rent or have the credit standing to purchase a home.
That’s where we step in. We work to stabilize our clients so they can successfully achieve their goal of managing their home. For our clients home can mean either homeownership, or a renter who is responsible and conscientious and can sustain a long-term rental agreement.
We do this in a number of ways.  We …
·         Provide information, referrals and education so our clients understand their housing rights and responsibilities. Our short-term counseling allows us to identify what that particular client needs, as well as provides the support necessary to achieve take steps to achieving success.
·         Facilitate mediation and negotiations between landlords and tenants to prevent evictions and terminations that lead to homelessness and the inability to secure long-term affordable housing.
·         Advocate on behalf of our clients to ensure they get the assistance they needs, as well as help them navigate potential financial assistance and affordable housing systems.
·         Hold RentWise workshops to help tenants make better housing choices, navigate the application and screening processes, and retain their homes. We also use this program to train other human service workers, so other communities and more people can benefit from the information.
·         Assist in the development of additional housing units and rent subsidies to increase the supply of affordable housing.
These are critical steps to ensure the people who need help accessing and retaining a home have the resources to do so. We’ll talk about more specific ways the community can help, as well as success stories in future blogs.

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