Each month, we highlight someone that has worked with us - they share their story about what brought them to Thrive and our work together. This month, however, we’ve decided to highlight a few of the 400 families that were assisted through our direct funding support for housing and basic needs from PacificSource.
Normally there are fairly narrow restrictions on funding from outside sources: restrictions on what it can be used for, how it can be used and who qualifies (along with a ton of paperwork requirements). The unique part about our PacificSource funding was how open it was - how few restrictions there were. PacificSource offered us the ability to use our own first-hand knowledge of the community and its needs, and pursue how we thought funding would be most supportive. In other words - they trusted us to do the work that we do, and to that we (and so many recipients) are truly grateful.
With this program, we asked recipients to share with us a little about their situation and how financial assistance would help. This narrative was not a requirement, but we knew how important it would be to share this with our community. From smoke detector replacements to car repairs, air filtration devices to rental assistance, the net that this assistance cast was wide. Sometimes, maintaining housing is not just about rent- it’s about improving quality of life and sustainability in someone’s current home.
Many of the households we assisted were families with disabilities that made it difficult for them to work or maintain housing. The intersection of disability and poverty means that any unexpected challenge can be a huge financial burden. There are many nuances to living with mental illness, chronic health conditions, and other disabilities - and maintaining sustainable housing is essential for wellbeing.
One single mom on disability income returned home to her teenage daughter’s valiant but failed attempt to cook dinner, unfortunately setting off the fire detectors in the process (we’ve all been there!). Freaked out by the smoke detectors going off, the daughter took all three of them off the walls, and when Mom returned home she was tired and didn’t put them up right away. Unfortunately, there was an annual inspection by management shortly thereafter. The fees for having a smoke detector off the walls were $250 per detector - making this charge a huge financial burden for the household. With the support of a couple of other organizations and Thrive, this household was able to pay these fees.
An elderly individual with a late-stage chronic lung condition found that the ventilation system in his new apartment was letting particles in that greatly affected his breathing. By working with Thrive we connected with an HVAC specialist that recommended a specific air purifier and humidifier combination that we were then able to pay for with this funding. After receiving the devices he reports that his breathing is exponentially better and he can enjoy his apartment a little more.
In addition to basic needs support, the majority of this funding was used to assist with rent, mortgage, and other housing expenses. Each story and circumstance is unique, but we found that many households needed support due to illness, loss of employment, and mental health barriers. These important stories are often left out of conversations about housing insecurity in our community, and they highlight how close many of our neighbors are to losing housing.
“I found myself under extreme stress after going through traumatic events that retriggered my c-ptsd. Living from paycheck to paycheck this placed a great deal of pressure on me and my ability to continue meeting my monthly obligations were compromised. I reached out to Thrive and was so delighted at the collaborative problem solving. They helped connect me with the resources I needed for help with rent and also mental health so that I had the space I needed to recover and get back on my feet.”
“This will help me to get back on my feet over the next couple of months so I can put aside for the coming bills, instead of just barely getting by. It will help me have quality food on our table and not worry about keeping only one light on in the house because I can't afford to have them on all the time. I'm conscious of our water since the bill is always over $100 and we rotate who takes showers, or we try to have all the kids bathe together to save water because I'm so stuck. I paid my utilities with my credit card, and that bill is now over $1,500 from groceries- kids clothes- babysitters and bills.”
Another single mom with two kiddos was in need of mortgage assistance due to an upcoming surgery, to which she did not know the recovery time. Missing work and paying deductibles for a surgery is a huge burden, even for those that own a home. Mortgage assistance is often more difficult and filled with red tape than rental assistance, so we are grateful that our flexible funding support was an option for this family.
The stories above show the complexity of housing insecurity in our community, how different barriers intersect to create an environment where families are one setback away from losing housing. Thanks to PacificSource and their funding we were able to assist these families in a way that was fast and flexible so they could feel less stressed about keeping their housing.
Going forward, we hope that more businesses will join our professional partnership, Housing to Thrive. 100% of donations to Housing to Thrive will be put toward low-barrier housing funding, as we realized during this funding cycle how imperative this is for the health of our families, single households, and community as a whole.