A Foundation for the Future

Quad Cities Housing ClusterIt wasn't long after a story in the Quad City Times about a grant the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend awarded, that would assist local organizations move people quickly out of homelessness and into homes, that Rick Schloemer began receiving calls from people who needed help.

One of them was a single father living in a motel with his three kids. "At the time I couldn't do anything," Schloemer, the Scott County Housing Council Director, said.

The Transformation Grant, the first of its kind given by the Community Foundation at the end of 2015, provided $100,000 to the Quad Cities Housing Cluster to provide seed funds for Rapid Re-Housing and Homelessness Prevention. The Scott County Housing Council partnered with six local organizations to help distribute the funds, but at the time of the call, Schloemer didn't have official agreements with the organizations.

"I didn't even have the money yet," he said.

So, he recommended the man get in touch with the local Salvation Army, one of the six organizations Scott County had partnered with, to see if he qualified to be placed in the family shelter. "It is one of the stories that tugs at my heart," Schloemer said, because the Salvation Army called several months later and asked for funding for a security deposit and first month's rent for a single father with three children.

"I asked for the name and realized it was the same man," Schloemer said. "He did what we recommended. He went from a motel to a shelter to an apartment. That's how this work is supposed to work."

There are many more stories like that, Schloemer said, including a veteran who was able to transition from living in a tent to an apartment, and a mother with six children who was able to stay in her home.
The numbers paint a picture as well. In less than a year, Schloemer said, 45 households have been assisted, including 90 adults and children. Almost 40 percent of the grant has been used, with a majority of that funding going toward security deposits for rent and rent.

Indeed, more impact will be realized in the coming years.

"Security deposits are one of the biggest challenges for people escaping homelessness," Schloemer said. "Sometimes they have money for rent but not the deposit. Many of us may not think about that, but for someone who is getting into their apartment for the first time, a security deposit can be daunting."

The funding from CFGRB is so valuable because it is immediate and flexible, Schloemer said. "That's the beauty of the program," he said. "When the organizations have someone who meets the qualifications, they can put them in housing and know they will have our support. They don't have to worry about where that money is going to come from. The money is so beneficial because it is flexible."

It makes sense to help people transition to affordable housing on many levels, he said. Research shows that it costs less money to move people into housing than it does to keep them in a shelter with daily costs. "The faster we move people into stable housing, the better off our entire community is," he said. "It stabilizes kids. There are fewer interactions with police and emergency rooms and the things people deal with when in crisis mode."

Rapid re-housing doesn't solve every problem, he said, but it's a tremendous help to individuals and families. "Case management then comes alongside with these agencies," he said, to help with other issues. "It's very gratifying knowing these people are actually being taken care of."

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