Homeless rehousing program places two dozen in Nevada County homes | TheUnion.com

Homeless rehousing program places two dozen in Nevada County homes

Nearly two dozen families or individuals have been placed in housing in the six months since Nevada County’s leading homeless agency began a program dedicated to that task.

Of the 31 households referred to Hospitality Houses’ Rapid Rehousing program since its January inception, 23 have obtained housing, according to the organization’s executive director, Cindy Maple.

“This small community stood up and fought with me side by side,” said Robert Fitzpatrick, 54, a single father and Hospitality House’s first successful housing applicant.

“I wouldn’t have my son today if it wasn’t for them,” Fitzpatrick said.

With a $148,000, one-year Housing and Community Development grant, Hospitality House launched the rehousing program to supplement its shelter and other services aimed at eliminating homelessness.

The program targets people who have suddenly found themselves homeless and helps them get back into housing by taking a methodical approach to the barriers keeping them from finding a home, Maple said.

“What we do is a detailed assessment of their situation and the issues that brought them to homelessness and work to resolve those issues and eliminate them,” she said.

On top of Hospitality House’s housing case manager, the grant allowed the nonprofit to hire a second person in that capacity, as well as a housing specialist tasked with locating affordable opportunities and working with landlords and property management groups, Maple said.

“We need affordable housing options, and they are limited in our county,” Maple said.

Part of the rehousing includes ensuring that the rental is at a fair market rate and that the tenant has the means to sustain living in that home.

While that may include sorting through all possible income alternatives, such as disability, Social Security, Medicaid and Medi-Cal or even veteran’s benefits, it could also include teaching finance management skills and getting someone job-ready.

“Essentially the other piece is, that individual needs to have a plan to keep (the) housing long term,” Maple said.

“Before we invest the money into rehousing a person, we need to make sure they can keep the housing.”

Another part of the equation is the landlord or property management firm, Maple said. Some of the prospective tenants have past evictions, criminal backgrounds, poor credit histories and even have had personal addiction barriers.

“Somebody on their own might be turned down, based on a credit report,” Maple said. “Our goal is to advocate with the landlord.”

Part of that advocacy includes financial assistance, such as security and utility deposits, as well with helping with moving costs, Maple said.

“The landlords have been great,” Maple said. “They seem to appreciate that the clients we are working with are connected to Hospitality House and that we are screening and working with them. It’s been beneficial to our clients that they are working with us.”

While living in a local motel for more than a week, Fitzpatrick showed up at Hospitality House in February, after passing through a local rehab clinic, with only a baby carriage, his son Conner Jaxx and their clothing, he said.

Three days later, he was the first person the organization had placed with its rapid rehousing program.

“I make rent and the PG&E bill and there is no room for extras,” Fitzpatrick said about his studio apartment in downtown Grass Valley.

“I don’t want to continue to live like this, but all our needs are met.”

Fitzpatrick is a disabled machinist who fell into homelessness prior to his son’s birth under the weight of repeated surgery bills, he said.

For six months he was homeless until his child was born and he sought to climb out of homelessness.

That involved dissociating himself from medicine for the pain of his injury, he said.

“(Hospitality House) went above and beyond the call of duty,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was a blessing.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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