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May 8, 2017

Hope Through Housing Pushing Boundaries on Definition of “Home”

Hope Through Housing Pushing Boundaries on Definition of “Home”

Innovation today continues to challenge the status quo, blurring the lines between paradigms and constants that have been rigid for decades. At the Virtual Counselor’s Network (VCN), we continually strive to push nonprofits and community partners to embrace change and explore ways to better serve clients.

That is why we are so excited to partner with Hope Through Housing Foundation (HTH). Like many of our partners, they are challenging the stale definition of home as four walls. This pioneering nonprofit is creating a community renaissance while tackling affordable housing.

 

Community Renaissance Foundations

Long-term financial success and overall well-being go far beyond securing housing. But we cannot overlook the importance of shelter as a priority in starting the journey. HTH looks at housing as the foundation for a much larger service and education offering. Once settled in one of their 90 communities, then the real, long-term impact services begin.

Rather than just focusing on shelter, the goal is to transform lives. 

Depending on each resident’s own journey and needs, HTH builds in different programs to meet and assist residents where they are. For families with little ones, many housing communities offer Head Start and other licensed childcare options. Care continues beyond daycare, where many communities offer after school supervision for older children. 

Promoting economic mobility, HTH builds in training and educational services for residents. This ranges from home buying workshops to budget seminars to financial coaching. To promote overall well-being, HTH champions different wellness initiatives such as fitness classes and mobile clinics.

What starts as a need for housing, grows into an entire community of support. Regardless of an individual resident’s need, HTH works to provide access to the right services to transform lives.

 

Increasing Impact Through Partnerships

You might be wondering how a nonprofit like HTH can provide all these different services in addition to their housing. If you are a nonprofit organization, it’s likely your estimating the exponential costs. You’re right. If they had all these services in–house, the cost would quickly become unfeasible.

Instead they strategically partner with other organizations who already provide the services residents need. For example, some of the childcare services are offered through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA.

Each community is different, which means that they each need different services.

Rather than limiting their offerings through what they can provide, partnerships allow them tremendous flexibility in offering tailored services in different regions, quickly addressing community needs and the ability for rapid capacity building. 

In short, HTH embraced a spirit of collaboration over competition. This approach serves their residents far better than if they were to limit offerings to what they could offer directly.

 

Expanding Partnerships to the VCN and Virtual VITA

As you can tell, HTH was already primed for exploring collaborations when we reached out to pilot the Virtual VITA program in several of their housing units. A classic meeting of the minds, our two organizations immediately recognized the potential in a partnership.

2017 was the first year we offered the Virtual VITA program in select HTH communities. Since HTH didn’t have computers to launch the program, we connected them with an organization that refurbishes out-of-date computers. This organization donated 20 computers to kick-start our efforts. With that, qualifying residents in participating communities were able to get professional tax assistance directly from their “homes.”

 

Continuing to Innovate   

HTH will launch an app for residents in the coming year. This tool will help expand the definition of community even further through connecting residents of one building to the events and seminars in all of their locations. It also helps keep residents up to date on all the services and events they have access to.

Brian Woods, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, commented that this move will, “Open up a world of opportunity for our residents.”

We are excited to use the launch of their app, and the coming launch of our own app, to continue to reach residents wherever they are.

For other organizations considering applying innovative measures in their organization, Brian gave these words of encouragement: “Take a look at what the potential is to enhance your organization and don’t be afraid to make changes that are going to improve what you are already doing.”

For a quick guide to start innovating in your organization, check out our guide to nonprofit innovation.