MONTROSE, Colo. — Housing Resources of Western Colorado (HRWC), Montrose County School District (MCSD) RE1j, and Hilltop Community Inc. will collaborate on a pilot program providing
support to homeless children and their families in Montrose County. With 221 children being identified as homeless last year by MCSD, the need for this program is crucial. This two-year Next Step 2- Gen, Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program funding was awarded to the collaboration through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Division of Housing Office of Homeless Initiatives. Year one will enroll two families and year two will enroll three families. This is the first Next Step 2, Gen, Rapid Rehousing funding awarded to Montrose County and MCSD.
HRWC will administer the pilot program and provide support and assistance to homeless children and their families by securing decent, safe, and affordable housing. Each family will develop an action plan to achieve their financial and housing goals by working with an HRWC HUD Certified Housing Counselor. The Counselor will coach and counsel each family on budget, savings, and credit improvement for long-term financial stability and success.
Hilltop Community Resources will provide two generational case managers and Family Navigators who will meet regularly with the families and attend appointments with them as needed. Hilltop’s evidence-based screening tool, the Colorado Family Services Assessment 2.0, helps navigators work with parents to increase positive movement across life domains such as social, employment, parenting, financial, health, food insecurity, and basic needs of the parents and children. The Family Navigator supports the employment goals and helps prepare family members to find employment and assists with any needed tools, clothing, classes, certification and resources. A plan for safe and quality childcare is also identified for overall success.
“Hilltop is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with HRWC and Montrose and Olathe Schools to provide supportive services to families in need of safe and stable housing. Our hope is that this program will lead to future funding that will help us expand services in the affordable housing arena.” Said Josie Anders-Mize, Director of Regional Services for Hilltop Community Resources, Inc.
MCSD (RE1j) McKinney-Vento ‘s liaison will identify potential households and assists in gathering metrics for K-12 school age children enrolled in the 2-Gen Rapid Re-housing pilot program. Children identified by the MCSD’s McKinney-Vento services liaison who will bring their case to the Western Coordinated Entry Committee for prioritization and evaluation and combined resource analysis. The Current prioritization for the Western Colorado CES is
- Vulnerable or victimized to trafficking or sex work
- Vulnerability to illness or death
- Significant challenges or functional impairments, including physical, mental development or behavior health disabilities.
- Other factors determined by the community that are based on severity of needs
- High utilization of crisis or emergency services based on need
- The extent to which people, especially youth and children are unsheltered.
- Risk of continued homelessness
MCSD will work with families in the pilot program to maintain 80% of students maintain attendance of 85% or better. And 80% of students earn grades at a C (or its equivalent) or better (all class average).
“Stable housing is a foundation of childhood development as children need dependable structure in their lives to learn and grow,” said School Superintendent Dr. Carrie Stephenson. “Montrose County School District supports every effort to provide our economically disadvantaged families with housing resources that support student livelihood and learning.”
Once the family is prioritized by the CES, a warm hand-off to Hilltop will be scheduled with the family.
HRWC, Hilltop Community Resource Inc, and MCSD have a history of collaboration. All three organizations are part of the Western Slope Regional Coordinated Entry System, Colorado Balance of State Continuum of Care and are network partners through the local Health Equity Advocacy Team (HEAT).
All parties are committed to working together to develop and successfully administer the Next Step 2- Gen Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program in Montrose County. Helping families stabilize their housing, improve the health, security, and quality of life for the participating families. ‘By stabilizing these families, research shows that Housing assistance gives children in low-income households the opportunity to improve and succeed academically, maintain their health and well-being, and achieve financial success later in life while reducing costs to society in the long term.’*