Paying It Forward

Paying It Forward

Culpeper Shelter not only provides emergency shelter for those in need, but also with Rapid Re-Housing funds assist many families to obtain permanent housing. Over the past several months CCDC has rapidly re-housed six families. These families were in the emergency shelter for several weeks to several months. All six families are presently in permanent housing and doing well. CCDC provides ongoing case management to help these families succeed.

It has become evident that families and individuals that spend less time in the shelter and receive help to move into permanent housing tend to do better. They will work harder to remain stably housed. Meeting routinely with a case manager for budget and housing counseling becomes a way of life and not a chore.

Recently we had a mother of two come back to the shelter for an unexpected visit. She had not come this time for shelter. She came by (as she said) “to pay it forward.” CCDC had provided this family with shelter for several months while the mom found employment and a landlord who was willing to rent to her. We were able to help with her security deposit and first month’s rent so she could move into her own apartment. She has continued to stay in touch and works hard to maintain a home for her children.

She came to the shelter bearing gifts for other shelter families. She bought paper towels, toilet paper, two fruit baskets, a salad basket, and children’s toys. Her daughter fixed a basket with small toys and items for children. She stated she was so appreciative of all the help she had received and wanted to “pay it forward” to help others. This is a mother who lives on a tight budget but felt the importance of giving back.

As the Executive Director of CCDC and a case manager for over 16 years, times like this simply warm your heart. Helping the homeless and those in need in the Culpeper community is our job and a job we love to do. Touching lives in a special way is a true blessing.

If you would like to get more information about Culpeper Shelter and the various programs that we provide or find out how you could be of help please contact Cheryl Carter -Executive Director -825-7434.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

How Homelessness Affects Children

How Homelessness Affects Children

Millions of children experience homelessness every year. According to the National Mental Health Association, on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless. These numbers are just astounding to me.

The experience of homelessness affects the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development of children. On the average, manyhomeless children have attended two or more schools in a one-year period. Almost half of homeless children have anxiety, depression, or withdrawal. More than one in three homeless children manifest delinquent and aggressive behavior. Homeless children tend to have very low self-esteem. Often, they don’t have adequate food or nutrition, reliable transportation, necessary immunizations or immunization records, appropriate clothing, or school supplies. Many children who grow up homeless are likely to repeat the lifestyle with their own children.

Statistics show that every two minutes a child becomes homeless in America. No child should have to live in a shelter. They fear their friends will find out they are in a shelter and treat them differently. Some have a difficult time in school because of housing instability.

Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services (CHASS) operates a 15-bed homeless family shelter in Culpeper, VA. Not only do we provide emergency shelter, but we help the literally homeless individuals and families find and move into permanent stable housing thru our Rapid Re-housing Program. Our goal is to get them from shelter to housing in 30 days or less. This is not always possible, but it is our goal.

I would like to share part of a letter I received from a client recently. She is a single mother with four children. She came to CHASS homeless with nowhere to go. We were able to put her and her children into housing where they have since thrived. The children are honor students and have won many awards at school. The mom still struggles every month with bills as she can never be sure of her child support, yet she works two jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over her family’s head.

“As their mother I am over the moon but the key to our family and its success has been this home!! Being stable and safe are two of the most important gifts I can provide for my family. CHASS has changed our lives forever. I am thankful EVERYDAY for this home!! Without the support and amazing staff of CHASS I don’t know where we would be! Thank each and everyone of you! You change lives, you give hope and I will always be FOREVER Grateful. Thank you”

Another mother wrote:

“Stability is one the most important gifts you can give your child- everything begins at home. CHASS has afforded my family the stability to succeed. They provide more than housing – open hearts, listening ears, and a sense of hope. The people they assist and the positive changes they make in lives is a true blessing. This program was a life saver for me and my family. Culpeper is certainly a better place with the services CHASS provides.”

Cheryl S. Carter, Executive Director – CHASS CHASS is part of the Foothills Housing Network that provides shelter and housing services to those in need in Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Orange, and Madison counties.

Image by: namo deet

Shared Housing – A Solution to Homelessness

Shared Housing – A Solution to Homelessness

Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services (CHASS) operates a 15 bed emergency homeless shelter in Culpeper, VA. One of our biggest challenges is finding affordable housing for the homeless, particularly singles with very limited income (i.e. minimum wage, disability or social security as their only form of income).

Statistics have shown that close to 50% of the homeless in the United States are single adults. Many of these people are seniors with a very limited income. The fair market rent for even a one bedroom apartment is more than their income can sustain. Basic minimum wage and disability income is not enough for one person to afford even the cheapest housing unit.

At CHASS, we have discovered that finding shared housing units can benefit the landlord/homeowner as well as a homeless individual with access to affordable housing and mutual support. Tight rental markets and limited assistance programs create scarce housing choices for low-income residents of all ages. Shared housing can offer housing for half the cost of a private apartment.

Many homeowners have extra rooms in their home and could also use some additional income. By renting out a room to someone in need it becomes a win-win solution. The homeowner is able to make some additional monthly income to help pay their mortgage and a homeless individual is able to find safe, affordable housing. Many times the tenant is able to help with chores that need to be done in the home.

The tenant has a separate lease agreement with the landlord. Monthly rent usually includes all utilities, cable and internet. Tenants have their own room and share common areas. Since this is the landlord’s home -he/she can spell out certain expectations, responsibilities, etc. in the lease agreement. Before signing the tenant needs to make sure they understand their roles and responsibilities.

CHASS can help with the security deposit and first month’s rent thru our Rapid Re-housing Program. We require at least a six month lease or preferably a yearly lease. We do an inspection of the property before the tenant moves in. We also will provide monthly case management with the client and budget counseling if needed as long as the case is open with CHASS. We have found that shared housing has helped in several ways:

  1. It is more affordable and flexible.
  2. Landlords seem to be more lenient and most landlord responses are positive.
  3. It is financially appealing to landlords.
  4. It is a step up to a homeless individual’s living situation.
  5. Housing is more sustainable for the client

Shared housing will not work for everyone, but it is better than long shelter stays and it can be a stepping stone while someone is waiting for their income to increase. With shared housing we are empowering our clients not enabling them. Every person deserves and needs to have a place to call home.

If you are a homeowner and might be interested in renting a room to someone less fortunate please contact us. For more information please contact: Cheryl Carter, Executive Director, Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services, 602 S. Main Street, Suite 3, Culpeper, VA 22701, 540-825-7434.

Image Credit: “Ma maison: la chambre”by Valérie Brillant-Blais is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0