Here’s how Orange County United Way’s WelcomeHomeOC program is overcoming one of the critical barriers for families and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Almost 7,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Orange County, California, according to the 2019 biennial Orange County Point in Time count. Of the people experiencing homelessness, more than 450 are families, and over 300 are veterans. And now, because of the pandemic, we anticipate this number has grown.
Day, a 36-year-old Army veteran, was diagnosed with PTSD when she returned home to Orange County from her deployment in 2012. Despite having two jobs and at times working 60 hours a week, she struggled to scrape up enough money for move-in costs and didn’t have rental history.
Day ended up living in a borrowed car.
“Probably about a year ago this last December was the absolute darkest. I felt like I had absolutely nowhere to go, even on rainy nights,” Day said. “I just felt completely homeless, felt like it was never going to change; nothing was ever going to work out.”
Things changed when she was introduced WelcomeHomeOC, a program developed by Orange County United Way’s United to End Homelessness initiative.
Our WelcomeHomeOC program is solving one of the key barriers for families and individuals experiencing homelessness – they have a federally subsidized rental assistance voucher, but can’t find a landlord to accept the voucher before it expires.
The program, which has housed more than 200 people as of July 2020, solves this problem by connecting property owners to voucher holders like Day and facilitating the process of renting to them. We also help with security deposits, holding fees, furnishings, and move-in costs.
Through WelcomeHomeOC, Day was finally able to move out of her car and find a place to call home.
“I think I would still be living in a car right now without United Way,” said Day.
Now with stable housing and access to wraparound services, Day is set up to rebuild her life.
(Make sure to check out the ABC7 report in the video.)
Doing More to End Homelessness
United Way remains focused on helping our most vulnerable neighbors find a place to call home through our United to End Homelessness initiative.