Abby had been homeless for nearly five years.
Without a safe place to call home, life had been difficult for her as she lived in a riverbed encampment. As Orange County officials cleared out the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless encampment, Abby’s situation was assessed and she was matched with a Housing Choice Voucher in April 2017.
The voucher provides very low-income individuals and families with the opportunity to choose and lease safe, decent and affordable rental housing. For the first time in five years, this voucher gave Abby the possibility of attaining a warm and safe home.
The process to find the right apartment proved dire and challenging. For over a year and seven months, Abby had been looking for the right apartment in a location where she could receive support services and be close to resources she would need. Without finding one matching her needs and the voucher set to expire, the opportunity neared termination. Abby would soon have to restart the housing process.
That changed when the United to End Homelessness, a community-wide initiative led by Orange County United Way, launched the pilot for their Landlord Incentive Program in partnership with the Orange County Housing Authority and Abby was selected to be a part of it. United to End Homelessness recruited a local landlord who provided numerous units to be used for the pilot program, and Abby’s voucher was able to be extended due to her participation in the pilot program.
The very next day would change her life.
The local landlord, who had availability and a willingness to give people facing homelessness a much-needed second chance, opened an apartment viewing with the property manager. The unit’s location and financial costs matched Abby’s specific needs to ensure effective housing and support services would be provided. She signed the lease later that week, a dream she never thought would be realized.
Architect, Ware Malcomb CEO and Chair of the United to End Homelessness Initiative Larry Armstrong and wife Sandra even donated funds to furnish her permanent housing unit. They, alongside dozens of other local leaders involved in the initiative, are making great strides to end homelessness in Orange County.
Abby is the first person in the United to End Homelessness pilot program to move into scattered site supportive housing. Three more individuals in the expanded pilot effort have signed leases, a measure that is getting them off the streets and into private apartment units with supportive services.
With a stable home, Abby and other formerly homeless persons will be able to address other barriers in their lives, while achieving financial stability, and accessing emotional support resources.
It’s the role of private landlords in Orange County collaborating under the United to End Homelessness initiative who are playing a pivotal part in creating solutions addressing the homelessness crisis. The new landlord incentive program removes financial barriers, from leasing expenses, holding fees, application expense reimbursement, damage claims assistance, security deposits and more.
The program that launched in February comprises of the community’s top leaders from Orange County’s corporate, philanthropic, government and faith-based sectors. The innovative project serves as a model of what can be accomplished through community collaboration and broad partnerships.
United to End Homelessness continues to advocate for the development of new supportive housing developments and working with private landlords to help place people into scattered site supportive housing. The Orange County Board of Supervisors recently approved $250,000 to fund United to End Homelessness’ rental pilot effort, providing 40 to 55 housing placements over the next year through the pilot.
The United to End Homelessness is committed to reducing homelessness in Orange County to zero by the year 2024. Will you help provide services and housing for every individual who needs it?
Orange County United Way is Solving Problems in the Community
United Way fights for the education, health, housing and financial stability of every person in Orange County. We are doing more than raising funds, we are transforming our community. If you are looking for ways to help, learn how to get involved or sign up for our monthly newsletter.