Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The only thing we know for certain is what already happened

2011 was a complex year for Community LINC. Thanks to our donors, we were able to provide a home for homeless families and services that equip them for independence. We were able to make some needed building repairs. We began to comprehend the building repairs that are still needed (the bad news), assessed our program performance (the good news) and developed a strategic plan to guide us through 2014.

But, the U.S. poverty rate was the highest since 1993 and our waiting list averaged more than 70 families each month. Homeless families did not share in the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s 4th quarter 2011 Low and Moderate Income Survey (LMI) confirms that “the financial status of the LMI community continues to deteriorate.” Jobs that pay well are still few and far between and our residents often lack the skills to compete effectively for those jobs. Affordable housing is still in short supply, with the wait time for subsidized housing in Kansas City increasing to five years.

Despite all of the barriers, about 70% of our families left for permanent homes in 2011. The 38 families who exited saved an astounding average of $1,500 apiece. Moreover, the cumulative increase in taxable earnings of the families who have left since 2007 exceeded $600,000 and the decrease in public assistance was almost $200,000.

Our families are successful because we screen for people both willing and able to make a life change and then equip them for independence and self-sufficiency. Our new mission statement says it all - “to end homelessness, impact poverty, and remove the barriers to self-sufficiency for the families we serve.”

Each year, I’m inspired by everyone I encounter through Community LINC - the families who have committed to a life change, the staff who have made this mission their lives, the volunteers who give their time for people they never met, and the donors willing to give strangers a proverbial “hand up.” In 2012 we will pilot two new programs to extend our services to more families and serve that extensive waiting list. I hope that you will choose to be a part of this meaningful mission.