Thursday, January 29, 2015

Community LINC then and now

From CEO/Executive Director Laura Gray

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jobs Matter: A Dream Comes True

By Employment Services Job Coach Constance Taylor

It’s really exciting to see participants begin to interview when they start their job search. 

It’s even more exciting to see participants get more than one job offer, which is the case for Ms. G.

I knew she was a “go-getter” when she came over to the lab to complete online assessments when she was not feeling her best. After searching for almost three weeks, she actually had 3 opportunities all at same time. She has completed her physical and drug testing for a position that starts at $13.75 an hour. After 9 weeks of employment, she will be eligible for full benefits and her income increases to $16.00 an hour. Her exact words to me were, “a dream comes true”.
Our employment program works to eliminate barriers and present desirable applicants that are dependable, hard-working and committed to a work schedule. 

We partner with employers that are willing to hire candidates who are ready to move forward and become self- sufficient.  We want to thank them for their continued commitment and invite others to extend employment opportunities as we partner together to enhance success.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Housing Matters: Affordable Housing, It's a Necessity

By Housing Specialist II Shaunte’ Abernathy Cox

An estimated 12 million renters and homeowners pay more than 50 percent of their annual income for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage can’t afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States (HUD, 2015). 

However, at Community LINC, Sara, a 28 year old, mother of three, who entered the Interim Housing Program unemployed, is finding a way to beat the odds.  Within her first month of being in the program, she secured employment.  Her minimum wage job, combined with the money she receives for child support, has allowed her to start the process to transition to permanent housing. 

During her time at Community LINC, she’s been able to establish a financial safety net, which will help decrease her chances of cycling back into homelessness.  Through the direct assistance funds we receive, we will be able to eliminate some of Sara’s barriers by paying her outstanding utility debt. 

In addition, she was able to connect with a private landlord to secure housing with cable, water, trash and sewer fees all included in the rent.  The only utility Sara will be responsible for is electricity. 
In a couple of weeks, she will leave Community LINC with a job, money in a savings account, a budget, a furniture voucher, restored confidence in herself and most importantly, HOUSING! 

By all accounts, Sara succeeded. She participated in services at multiple levels and utilized the tools she received from each area to help her succeed.  However, without the availability of private, affordable housing, things could have been a lot different for Sara.  For example, the average wait for Public Housing in Kansas City is 1-3 years while the average wait for Section 8 is 3-5 years.  Furthermore, the wait for many low-income tax credit properties in Kansas City is 12-18 months. 

Establishing partnerships with private landlords is critical when it comes to helping our clients transition.  It ultimately boils down to education…taking the time to explain to landlords who we are, what we do, who we serve and why our clients should be given a second chance at housing. 

It’s a never-ending task, but I’m up for the challenge and I hope you will join me as we work together to Educate & Celebrate! 

Source:  The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (Who Needs Affordable Housing), 2015

*Low-income tax credit properties are indirect Federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households (HUD, 2015)

**The client’s name was changed to protect her identity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Children Matter: The Impactful Christmas Present

By Children’s Program Coordinator, Josh Chittum

Many toothy grins spread across the faces of children staying at Community LINC over the holidays due to generous donors dropping off bag after bag of wrapped Christmas presents. The gifts gave birth to palpable excitement for our youngest residents, who remind me every day that they are not homeless children, but children. What child doesn’t go wild with glee when they see handfuls of presents brought into their living space?

Perhaps one of the most impactful Christmas gifts that not just current, but future residents received this holiday season, however, didn’t come in a wrapped package that fit underneath a tree. It came in the form of a monetary donation from a fantastic Community LINC supporter and the company she works for.

This donation will allow Community LINC to purchase a developmental screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. The tool will identify the developmental and emotional strengths of our children from birth to age 5 ½ as well as areas in which they need to grow.

With this tool we can now provide data to Melanie about her 10-month old son, Trevor, who has not received enough tummy time and struggles with gross motor movement. Melanie is not a bad parent. She needs someone to partner with her to provide the best environment for her child whom she absolutely adores and loves. 

The tool will also provide strategies that Sheryl can use in the home to help her four year old son improve his language acquisition because he is currently behind his peers. And it creates the internal infrastructure for Children’s Program staff to refer parents to a specialist for children like Mikey who struggles to control his emotions on program night and soothes himself in developmentally inappropriate ways.

This tool will ultimately have lifelong impacts on many, many families that stay at Community LINC. It will provide parents with knowledge they may not have otherwise received. It will give parents strategies they can use when they exit into permanent housing. And it will help provide a strong foundation for children to grow and develop in a healthy way.

The books, the clothes, and the games given over the holidays were wonderful and greatly appreciated. I do not aim to take anything away from that generosity when I express how excited I am that Children’s Program received the donation to purchase this screening tool. It is a present that will continue to give next Christmas and beyond. That type of impact is what we hope to have on all of our residents, no matter their age.