For almost 30 years Partners in Housing has not only helped provide families with roofs over their heads, but also offered other services addressing education, employment, life skills training and more.
“Families live in our housing for one year,” explained Mary Stegner, executive director. “Each family sets its own goals for what they’d like to accomplish in that time.” Beyond being able to establish housing stability, she added, their goals typically include increasing their income, becoming more self-sufficient and improving their education.
The circumstances leading families to seek help from PIH range from loss of housing, domestic violence situations, lack of childcare and transportation. Health and employment issues may also be contributing factors.
Based on figures from its 2019-2020 Fiscal Year Report, Partners in Housing served 385 individuals (128 adults and 257 children) with measureable outcomes demonstrating success rates such as 90% improvement in housing; 92% increase in job preparedness; and 82% increase in income, for example. Stegner said PIH is proud of the stats because they represent the work accomplished by the families.
The need for housing, and PIH’s role in the community, has not diminished through the years. Yet, the organization is limited in its ability to provide assistance based on its existing housing inventory. Consequently, last year the board of directors created a strategic plan to add more transitional homes.
“We have to have a wait list because there are more people in need than we can help right now. We have a solid plan on how to do more,” Stegner said. “And with help from our other nonprofit partners we hope to both build and acquire new units.”
In addition to expanding its inventory, Stegner said, “We are looking at what we can do to meet the kiddos’ needs and the youths’ needs while they’re with us. We really are a program that looks at the whole family.”
When COVID-19 began impacting the families it serves, Stegner said the digital divide became evident. “We realized early on that our families did not have the technology they needed.” Through grants, Partners in Housing was able to obtain computers for every family and cover all the internet fees.
Although there is a moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19, Stegner anticipates a greater need for housing services once that’s lifted.
Even with a wait list and limited housing inventory, Partners in Housing is able to offer assistance. Families in need are encouraged to complete applications to gain a place on the wait list. “We can still offer some services,” Stegner said. “We can help with basic needs such as child care, employment concerns. We’ll work with families as soon as we can.”
“Our goal is to look at what we do to help in as many ways as we can,” she said. “When it’s time for them to leave we want them leaving in better condition than when they came.”