The federal government has a strict definition of who qualifies as homeless. If a family slept inside last night—in a week-to-week hotel or with a relative who might ask them to leave tomorrow—they aren’t “homeless,” according to the federal government. That means the family can’t receive assistance from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs using federal dollars.
We’re thrilled that Mecklenburg County recognized this problem and awarded Community Link an initial grant of $100,000 for our new Family & Child Stability Services program. It serves individuals and families who lack a permanent home. We’re currently partnering with A Child’s Place on this project now, with more agencies to come.
A Child’s Place is identifying “hidden homeless” families with children who attend a Title 1 elementary or middle school and live in week-to-week hotels. The parents in these families work or have earned income, but live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Community Link places these families in safe, decent, affordable housing near schools and employment centers. We also provide short-term rental subsidies to help each family sustain housing for approximately 12 to 18 months, or until the families are stable and can cover their housing costs, with a goal of 30% or less of their household income devoted to housing. (The definition of affordable housing.)
Through this collaboration, we plan to rehouse and support 50 families who are homeless or unstably housed during our fiscal year 2020. We also plan, with additional non-profit partners, to provide skills training and other resources to boost our customers’ earning potential, so that they eventually pay their rent on their own.
Our thanks to Mecklenburg County for supporting this project, and to WFAE public radio for reporting on it as part of the station’s Finding Home series.