Thanks to Eileen Flanagan for bringing to my attention a St Louis nonprofit I would have otherwise missed: Beyond Housing. Comparable in focus to Habitat for Humanity, the organization’s aim is to couple an increasingly unlikely pair: low income individuals or families and affordable housing. The niche of Beyond Housing differs from that of the larger scale Habitat for Humanity in that their work is devoted to building educational, financial, and personal skills necessary for homeownership verses literally building the actual homes.
Bad habits, learned routines, lack of education, illness, debt, lack of resources and so on can keep a suffocating leash on people who otherwise have the potential and wherewithal to beat the paycheck-to-paycheck rat race. Intervention can be key in shifting gears and implementing a new plan towards attaining adequate, affordable housing. St Louis area residents utilizing Beyond Housing have an array of services available to them including: Service-Enriched Rental Housing, Homeownership Services, and Community Building. A few of the particulars of the three programs are:
- Employment counseling and vocational assistance.
- GED educational support.
- Transportation assistance.
- Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts to encourage saving and asset accumulation).
- Parenting skills.
- Crisis intervention.
- Child care assistance.
- Money management training.
I’ll leave you with a few stats pulled from Beyond Housing’s website that paint a picture of the need associated with their cause:
“According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, ‘for the first time … a full-time worker at minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country.” Nationally, a family with two full-time workers earning federal minimum wage would make just $21,424, while they would need to make $32,822 to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. To afford a Fair Market Rate three-bedroom apartment in St. Louis, a minimum wage employee would need to work 129 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job.'”
“Over 100 requests are made for each rental home [Beyond Housing has] available. ”
“7,000 families are on the local waiting list for public housing.”
And on a good note:
“Last year, Beyond Housing staff provided home buyers training to 441 individuals, one-on-one budget and credit counseling to 361 individuals, and anti-predatory lending training to 1,007 individuals. Moreover, Beyond Housing staff conducted foreclosure intervention counseling sessions for 54 individuals and directly intervened to prevent eight foreclosures.”