As we get ready to start a new fiscal year in a couple of months, new goals roll in for the Family Services department. We continue to thrive in finding qualifying families to move in to their own homes as our construction schedule is able to catch up, weather and donors permitting.
Reaching financial stability is a goal we share with our future homeowners. For Family Services this means investing time and resources in community outreach and education, of both the public and partner agencies.
In order to achieve this goal, DeeDee and I have been focused on restructuring the communication and messaging of the Habitat Program towards Homeownership, tailoring it to our community, to really get the attention of those in the income segments that we serve, swerving away from the pre-conception of free housing for the poor. Take the Habitat Truck for example, a moving and stationary billboard that can be spotted around town picking up furniture donations or sitting boldly at the ReStore parking lot of highly trafficked 3rd street.
And our friendly webpage revamp – bendhabitat.org/homeownership– that provides comprehensive, detailed and in depth information on eligibility, program requirements, FAQs, debt calculation, downloadable forms in English and Spanish and up to date information on dates and times of upcoming information sessions and open application rounds.
Furthermore, we have participated in community talks, have been invited by other local agencies and community groups, radio programs and private employers to share the word on how Bend Habitat is chipping into the solution to the local housing crisis. A goal that seems impossible to reach, especially when you read statistics on the rental market creeping up and house sales prices raising highest than the average in the nation.
This is how we are part of the solution
From July 2016 through April 2017 we received over 200 inquiries about the Habitat program, 75 people attended 3 information sessions (December, January and April), and 32 intake forms were turned in. During this time, we have met with 21 individuals. At these one-on-one meetings or housing counseling sessions, clients sit for one hour disclosing their finances, their worries about their present and future, look at their credit reports and find mistakes hard to forget or impossible to delete, breath and take it all in, wanting to work hard towards their dream of a stable home for them and their families.
In the upcoming months, with the first Open Application period beginning June 12th – 30th, our goal is to select the first 5 out of 10 families to enroll in the Habitat program in the fall, with the continuous cycle of the next information sessions being held in July and November, for a second open application round to occur during the winter. At which point we will select the remaining 5 families and align ourselves with the goal of building 10 homes in Bend next fiscal year.
For more information on Open Application visit the following link. https://bendhabitat.org/homeownership/housing-open-application-period/