homepage spring/summer 2019
CCIH Responds to Housing Crisis with Five-Year Plan
t seems you can’t go a day without hearing about the housing crisis — and with good reason. Since 1960, rents have risen a whopping 61 percent nationally, while income has only risen five percent. The truth of the matter is that hard work isn’t quite enough anymore, and full-time employment does not necessarily constitute a living wage. Affordability is just one of the concerns for renters in Contra Costa County. About 75 percent of Concord residents live in fear because of the relatively easy eviction policies in the city. Their fear is not unfounded. In Concord, there are zero neighborhoods that are affordable for households earning less than $50,000 a year. Housing instability leads to stressors that directly effect families, especially children. However, affordability is just the tip of the iceberg. Factoring in issues like disabilities, unemployment, trauma, and systematic barriers — housing insecurity becomes further compounded. This is acutely true for the residents CCIH serves. CCIH residents earn 0-30% of the average median income (which translates
to $10,000-$29,000 of average annual income) and have histories of extraordinary trauma. To realize our vision of a world where everyone has a place to call home so that they can live with dignity and reach their full potential, CCIH just completed a five-year plan. Our primary goal is to triple the number of people we house and growing the support services to ensure people can thrive. The goals include: • Launch housing development task force to identify strategies, costs and next steps for housing acquisition/ ownership/development • Train residents for the “Resident Empowerment Program” to shape local policy and funding decisions • Complete needs assessment and strategy for developing housing and support services to meet the unique needs of transition age youth. Though the goal is ambitious, we know we can accomplish our mission with your partnership and support. Together, we are building strong healthy communities for generations to come. n SOURCE: DIGNITY HEALTH 1
1. “Majority of Concord Residents Live in Fear of Eviction: Report” by Answer Hassan, July 13, 2018. https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Majority-of-Concord-Residents-Livein-Fear-of-Eviction-Report-488160501.html
“Defying the Odds Together”
ercedes and Antonio have always been a team. Though they didn’t meet each other until they were adults, they had parallel childhoods. Both their parents struggled with addiction and they were often left to their own devices, caring for their younger siblings and taking on an inordinate amount of responsibility for a child. Ultimately, both Mercedes
and Antonio fell into the same cycle of addiction as their respective parents. “Life had always been tiring, and neither of us got to be kids,” Mercedes shared. They met after Mercedes lost her job, which coincided with a substantial rent increase. Meanwhile, Antonio was living in a car. Neither of them had “Defying” continued on page 2
Volunteer Opportunities CREATING CYCLES OF SUCCESS Housing is how CCIH ends homelessness. Education is one of the ways CCIH helps end poverty. Help be a part of the solution by volunteering at one of CCIH Youth Enrichment Centers. You can join CCIH in creating cycles of success for our students. Commitment is one school year, once a week for two hours. TURNING A HOUSE INTO A HOME Help welcome a family into their new home! We are in need of volunteers, who are available during the week, that can help stage apartments for families moving into CCIH housing. We could also use help from people who have trucks and are able to move large furniture. Helpers receive calls 3-4 times a year, never on a weekend and always within Contra Costa County. Mileage is tax deductible. SUMMER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER! CCIH is busily planning for summer youth enrichment activities for our students. Week-long camps take place at CCIH locations in Pittsburg and Concord for a few hours a day, 3-5 times a week. Examples of camp themes include: dance, art, science, music, theater/ improve, and Tai Chi. Camps can be led by volunteers (with help from staff), or volunteers can help assist at an already formed camp. All camps are supervised by on-site CCIH staff. This is a great way to help students stay engaged over the summer while helping them get excited about learning and broadening their horizons. Join us! If you are interested in learning more, please email gloria@ccinterfaithhousing. org for additional information. Thank you for your interest!
Empowering Residents to Lead!
ontra Costa Interfaith Housing is excited to introduce William Goodwin, a CCIH resident and Resident Empowerment Program (REP) REPresentative! REP is a pilot leadership and employment training program designed to foster civic engagement support resident leaders to advocate for affordable housing. Through REP, William has had a chance to share his inspiring story to push for affordable housing solutions and put a face to the struggle of housing insecurity.
Q: How has affordable housing changed your life? The most important thing housing has given me is getting to see my daughter grow up. Few fathers have that opportunity. The stability of having a place to live helped me pursue my passion of giving back and led me to advocate for my community through CCIH’s Resident Empowerment Program. None of this would have been possible without me being able to afford a place to live.
Q: What do you wish other people knew about your community? We are a vastly multicultural community and extremely family-oriented. There is a depth of interesting people, all trying to improve their lives, which improves our community as a whole. Even though many of the people are impoverished in our community, we still care. We care about our community, we care about our children, we care about the lives of others in similar situations. We are resilient families.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams? I want my family to thrive, to make a difference in my community, and in the lives of others. Now, the sky is the limit! I want to work towards the next step… Home Ownership! CCIH has given me and my daughter the strong foundation that we needed to dream big, and with the support of the CCIH community, these dreams can now come true! n
“Defying” continued from page 1
anywhere to go. After having a baby, their family of three was split apart. While he was an infant, Cyrus was taken from his parents due to their instability. But Antonio and Mercedes did not give up. They both completed rehabilitation programs and Mercedes was able to regain custody of Cyrus. The family was reunited in a transitional shelter in Pittsburg where they continued to grow stronger. As their
time limit at the shelter was drawing close and they weren’t sure what their next step would be, they got a call from CCIH about an opening in the Families in Supported Housing Program. “CCIH moved mountains for us. After we got the call, we had to act fast. They helped move us. We had been in a horrible situation, but we were together and made the best of it. We were grateful.” Mercedes said. At CCIH, housing is just the beginning, and that proved true for
A New Home, Inspired by Faith
wo years ago, Gloria and Wayne Schafer met Kristine. The Schafers were inspired by their faith to volunteer in the community and had begun regularly donating food to the Concord Respite Center. Their volunteer hours increased as they got to know the people who used the Center’s services. “It’s not just what we bring, its friendship…God’s love, compassion, and mercy.” They fondly remember meeting Kristine when they were working on Christmas carols at the holiday party they and other volunteers hosted at the center. At the party, Kristine told them her story. She had been homeless and struggling with abusive relationships and addiction for nearly nine years. She was in and out of the Concord shelter. Last summer, she was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and she realized that she had to focus more intently on securing stability. She went to work on the arduous process of applying for supplemental security income (SSI) so that she could afford housing. Meanwhile, inspired by their contact with folks like Kristine, the Schafers contemplated purchasing a unit that could be used to house people in need. After meeting representatives from CCIH at a community forum about affordable housing, the Schafers decided to move forward with purchasing a condo to rent to a CCIH participant. As Gloria tells it, “This [opportunity] was pressed on our heart. Trying to help at the shelter was like using a band aid, but the best way was to give a home.” And Wayne added, “We see results, and we were impressed by the wrap-around services.” In March 2019, Kristine was referred to CCIH via the Coordinated Entry system. “I love my [CCIH] case manager. She never stopped believing in me.” Due to Kristine’s illness, the process moved quickly and on March 18, she was placed in CCIH’s permanent housing. Kristine is now one of the 48 formerly chronically homeless adults housed through CCIH’s multi-site housing program for adults with disabilities.
Antonio and Mercedes. Soon after they were settled into their home, Antonio was injured and could no longer work as a truck driver for Goodwill. However, with the support of their case managers, Mercedes was enrolled in a job training program which allowed her to to take Antonio’s job while he stayed home with the kids. “CCIH gave me positive words about staying home to care for the children which was new to me,” shared Antonio. Two positions later, Mercedes has earned a
On the weekend before Kristine’s move, she and Gloria ran into each other at the Respite Center. Kristine excitedly shared the news that she found a permanent home. When Gloria asked Kristine where she was moving, they discovered she was moving into the latest CCIH unit: the same unit the Schafers had just leased to CCIH. Gloria shared that this was no coincidence. “I had chills and gave praise that I would get to see the face [of the tenant who ended up in their unit]. That’s a miracle and our joy! And then when I came home from talking with Kristine, I told Wayne now we need to find another place!” Kristine shares the Schafer’s excitement. “To me, being housed means being safe — having a place to sleep at night without worrying about being attacked or harassed. Being housed means that I get a second chance at life. It means I get to do normal things like cleaning the house, and cooking, and paying rent. I am grateful for this chance.” CCIH is honored to collaborate with supporters and volunteers like the Schafers whose deep commitment and passion for our mission extends our ability to serve people in need and provide them with hope on their journey toward self-sufficiency. n
permanent position and is a lead staff member at Goodwill. “[CCIH] staff gave me hope. I wasn’t scared anymore. I felt secure and comfortable. This was 100% better than winning the lotto! The confidence has always been there — Antonio believed in me and I also got more confidence from CCIH,” shares Mercedes. Mercedes and Antonio obtained sobriety together and have maintained their recovery for four years. They credit their resilience
to their strong will and desire to improve the lives of their kids. As they look ahead to the future they have hopes of owning their own businesses; for Mercedes a salsa company featuring her wares at local farmer’s markets, and Antonio wants to start his own t-shirt company. The family’s ambition combined with the support of CCIH services are helping to send them on a positive new trajectory toward self-sufficiency for this generation and the next. n
Contra Costa Interfaith Housing 399 Taylor Boulevard, Suite 115 Pleasant Hill, California 94523
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SAVE THE DATE!
There’s No Place Like Home February 8, 2020 6:00pm Blackhawk Auto Museum Danville, California
Together We Accomplish More
CIH remains grateful for our incredible community of volunteers and faith communities. A heartfelt thank you to Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church for their ongoing volunteer projects: Love Does and Kidfest! The “Love Does” event made a huge impact and our families are reminded every day how loved they are when they walk around their community and see new flower beds, benches, and improved communal spaces. Kidfest was a blast for
the children at Lakeside Apartments who spent many fun Sundays playing games and doing crafts with the energetic youth volunteers. Project Peace made an incredible difference at Lakeside Apartments to maintain a healthy environment in the community room and ensure all students have a great book to read at every grade level! Thank you to these congregations and everyone who has volunteered with CCIH to ensure healthy and thriving communities! n