Overcoming Housing Challenges During COVID-19
Surviving a global pandemic has presented countless challenges for our entire community. It’s likely no group has felt those challenges more than those with housing insecurities. After all, sheltering in place is impossible without shelter.
That’s where Youth In Need’s Rapid Rehousing program comes in. The program’s goal is to help eligible clients, ages 18 to 24, ultimately become stable and independent. First, clients work with Jonti Robinson, Case Manager, to secure stable housing.
From initial intake to move-in, the process typically takes about 30 days, but the current health crisis has nearly doubled that timeline.
“I am thankful that there are landlords who are willing to take a risk and are open to partnering with a program like ours and supporting our youth,” said Jonti, who attends viewings with youth, advocates, answers questions and explains policies.
Jonti said many landlords have been reluctant to tour potential renters during the pandemic. Often, landlords wouldn’t hold tours until the renter was approved financially, which presented another set of challenges for a population with little to no established credit. Other times, they cancelled apartment tours at the last minute, making it difficult to decide on potential housing options.
Once clients have secured housing, youth are required to pay 30 percent of their income toward the rent. Youth In Need supplements the remaining rent as clients work toward their employment goals. The ultimate goal is for clients to be paying 100 percent of their rent after six months in the program.
In cases of emergency, Youth In Need will support the clients. During the pandemic, several clients lost their jobs or were furloughed and unable to pay rent, so Youth In Need stepped in to provide financial assistance, Jonti said.
Over their up to two years in the program, youth work closely with Jonti to reach their individual program goals. Youth work on completing school or a vocational program and retaining or gaining employment, while Jonti assists clients with applying for food stamps, securing necessary identification, offering support in court if necessary, securing additional resources, going on college tours and much more.
As the program’s sole case manager, Jonti currently has a caseload of 13 clients working toward their individual goals they helped set at intake.
A Little Love Goes a Long Way
Last month, we asked you to share messages of encouragement and support with our frontline staff who have been working during the pandemic to ensure youth are safe and supported. And you did not disappoint! If you’d like to share your own message, it’s not too late. Complete the online form, and we’ll be sure to pass it along. Here are just a couple of the kind messages we received.
“I am so thankful for all your hard work and efforts especially when everything the kids know has been turned upside down. You have a gift and we are blessed that you are sharing your patience, hard work and talents for YIN kids! 😎😷😍💕💕” — Susie Johnson, Board Member
“You are the heroes at the front lines at YIN providing tireless service that plays an incredible role in the outcomes and experiences of every children, youth and families. I want to extend my sincerest appreciation for your continued service and dedication to our community. Today and every day, I am thankful for you. God bless you!” — Casie Torres