The Art of Transforming a Housing Unit into a Home

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by Brian Kubala, Housing Program Case Manager

The Salvation Army Franklin County Housing Team works with homeless families coming out of the YWCA Family Center. Many of these families face moderate to severe obstacles and barriers, such as a lack of income, criminal background, or a lack of rental history.   As their Case Workers, we’re tasked with finding them safe, stable and affordable housing.  To do this, we work with a network of landlords across Franklin County who we have developed working relationships with and who will often take a chance on our families because of the support and assistance we offer.  The landlords know they can reach out to us if issues arise with their new tenants and we will work with the families and offer solutions.

To make things even more challenging, there is a shortage of affordable housing in Franklin County. Often, the housing units we find for clients are not in the most ideal locations, on bus lines, or close to employment hubs, or the units are not in good physical condition.  One of the hardest parts of our jobs is to “sell” clients on the units that we have to offer.  We encourage them to see the available housing units as stepping stones into the home of their dreams. The units are often bare and can be described as a shell. Families often have no household items other than a few suitcases of clothes or a few items they’ve been able to store with friends or relatives or keep in their cars if they are fortunate to own a vehicle. I think what surprises people the most, is that more often than not, the housing units don’t include any appliances.

This is where Case Workers really have to work hard to help the family turn the shell in a home where they can cook, clean and function.  Fortunately there are other organizations in Franklin County that can assist.  We make referrals to The Furniture Bank of Central Ohio to get the family some furniture. We help families find low cost appliances for their new home. The Housing Team also refers clients to other programs offered by The Salvation Army, such as the Career Enhancement Center where family members can work on their job readiness skills and improve their chances at stable and better-paying employment.   Case Workers also link families to either our Adopt-a-Family Program or Christmas Cheer holiday programs.

Despite these challenges, The Salvation Army Franklin County Housing Team continues to “Do the Most Good” for these families and work hard to turn houses into homes.  If you have any household items you would be willing to donate to help our families, please email me at Brian.Kubala@use.salvationarmy.org.

 

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