Submitted by Jill Rose for Homes First

Everyone deserves to have a home, a place where they feel safe and secure so they can do what they are called to do in life. Our community works hard to provide a safety net for our friends, family and community members. Many organizations work together to provide housing, and it takes a community of caring and generous supporters to make it happen. For over 30 years, Homes First has been providing long-term, stable housing options for some of the most vulnerable in our community. Homes First invites community members to learn more and support the work of the organization at the 10th Annual Heroes for Housing breakfast on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.

This breakfast event is free to attend thanks to the generosity of our local sponsors. There will be a request for donations during the program. To register for the Heroes for Housing breakfast, go here.

“The Heroes for Housing breakfast is an inspiring time to come together with others who care about this cause. I look forward to it every year,” says Chris Lester, Homes First board president and chair, who has been involved with the organization for about eight years.

A lot has changed since the first Heroes for Housing breakfast 10 years ago. We are at a very different place in our community and in our world than we were then. If you look around you today, it’s easy to see the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and how it has impacted the ability for people to find and remain in safe housing.

Now more than ever, homelessness looms closer as a possibility for many people. Many of those who are currently unhoused lost their housing due to the high cost of home ownership and even rent increases. Any one of us – or our family members, friends or coworkers – could be at risk of losing housing, depending on the amount of privilege you hold and resources you have access to. 

More people are struggling just to pay rent. National research shows a connection between rent increases and homelessness: a $100 increase in rent is associated with an increase in homelessness of between 6 and 32 percent.  

The reality is that depending on the amount of privilege someone holds in this world, the outcomes of experiencing hardships can be very different. People and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by housing insecurity, just as they are with health and other issues, because of systemic and institutional racism embedded in our nation’s founding.

Many renters remain at risk of not being able to stay in their homes, and this risk is disproportionate for people of color and low-income households. According to a recent U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, 8.8 million people were behind on their rent payments in the spring of 2022. This represents an increase of 1.7 million individuals from the same week the previous year. More than 60% were behind on only two months’ rent or less, suggesting that even a little rental assistance could help them catch up. Another 30% of people were at least three months behind in rent payments. Nearly half of those falling behind also reported that they were “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to be evicted – the majority of whom were Hispanic or Black.

This is where Homes First comes in to provide rental assistance to make safe and secure housing more affordable. Home First works tirelessly alongside community partners, funders, and donors, to create and maintain safe and affordable housing for those in our community who need it the most.

“We couldn’t do it without the support of our community, individuals and organizations who understand that housing is a basic human right,” shared Trudy Soucoup, Homes First CEO. “We’ll continue to work to remove barriers to housing. We’re committed to changing the system for all, not just Homes First programs.”

Homes First currently has 53 rental properties which provide safe, stable, and secure housing for about 300 people each year. Some of the properties are family households, others are shared homes for safe and sober housing, for people with developmental or physical disabilities, and for seniors.

“Being a part of Homes First has really opened my eyes to the struggles of so many people in our community to make ends meet and to find secure, permanent, healthy housing,” said Lester. “How can people navigate life without the basic right of having a safe place to call home?”

The goal of the event is to raise funds to support the works of Homes First. Along the way, you’ll meet some incredible everyday heroes who have come through some of the most challenging times of their lives and are now thriving, with the support of Homes First and the community. Join us to hear how having safe, healthy, and affordable homes can truly change lives.


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