Family can be complicated. When the Gomez family came to Flagler Cares around Independence Day in 2020, they had more dependents than they bargained for. As grandparents to 4 kids under 14, they hadn’t been expecting to end up with custody of all 4 children. They were living in a motel in Volusia County, trying to provide for 6 people on a Social Security Disability income when the grandfather became unemployed.
Flagler Cares had become the recipient of a HUD ESG grant for Rapid Rehousing (RRH) just a few days before. This type of funding is intended to assist newly homeless individuals and family in finding and funding housing. The fund can provide hotel nights while a family looks for and secures housing as well as security deposits, assistance with first/last month’s rents and utility deposits. In some cases, the program can provide additional ongoing rent support until families become stabilized.
Throughout July and August, the Gomez family worked with DeAnna OFlaherty, Project Director at Flagler Cares to find appropriate housing, that fit their budget and size needs. They texted daily about available properties and the challenges that the family needed to address to find housing. Housing within Flagler County is often not affordable, so a wider search area is used to find affordable options. By September, the family had found a place in a neighboring county.
To facilitate the acceptance of RRH funds, landlords must cooperate in the process. Alliance Realty broker John Chapman has worked in real estate in Flagler County for over 30 years and supported the family’s tenancy and worked closely with RRH to get them placed quickly. When a unit was found, Flagler Cares staff inspected the property quickly. The family moved into the unit at the end of September, after 90 days in a single hotel room.
Rapid Rehousing requires that the applicants and providers work together to find and secure housing. With the shortage of affordable housing and a pandemic causing record rent delinquencies, it is important to create processes that support families as they seek housing services. Flagler Cares prides itself on clear, agile program access that supports clients needs.