UWRI Awarding $100,000 in Grants from Housing For All Fund

Continuing its commitment to addressing and solving Rhode Island’s lack of housing affordability, United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) is awarding $100,000 in grants from its Housing For All Fund to four local organizations. Funds will be distributed in January 2018, and each organization was selected for their ability to put promising program ideas into action to facilitate change at the systems level.

The organizations to receive funding are: Foster Forward, Housing Network of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Center for Justice, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation.

UWRI’s Housing For All Fund was established at the organization’s Housing For All summit in March 2016. During the summit, more than 300 Rhode Islanders and community leaders came together to identify root causes surrounding the issue of housing affordability, and generated strategies to create solutions. Housing For All Fund grants will support the implementation of the most innovative strategies.

After releasing a request for proposals in early October, UWRI received 18 applications totaling $889,500 in program funding requests. This second round of grants from the Housing For All Fund follows the $155,000 in grants awarded by UWRI in 2016.

“We know that too many working families are housing cost-burdened, spending more than one-third of their income to keep a roof over their heads and face difficult choices among the basic needs they can afford,” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO, United Way of Rhode Island. “We also know there’s a lot of good work happening in our state to tackle this issue, which was evident in the proposals we received, and we are excited to see the progress of the programs we’re investing in.”

Overviews of the funded programs, which focus on education, financial literacy, workforce and economic development, and collaborations to overcome the complex barriers of housing affordability, are as follows.

Foster Forward will receive funds to support its Your Way Home Rapid Rehousing Program for homeless youth ages 18-24 who have prior involvement with DCYF after turning 14. With no housing resource currently dedicated to serving this population, Your Way Home will utilize a Housing First approach to help youth find and obtain housing. The program will provide financial assistance to enable youth to have safe, secure housing, while also delivering the wrap-around services and case management that helps to put youth on a path to self-sufficiency.

Through its Housing Opportunities Initiative, the Housing Network of Rhode Island will use its grant funding to increase the supply of safe, healthy, and affordable housing. Working with its partners, the organization will build a cross-sector, collaborative infrastructure with the capacity to transform the state’s under-resourced affordable housing system. Using a collective impact approach, the initiative will organize, mobilize, and cultivate a strategically aligned coalition to affect systems change to increase and preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders over the next decade.

The Rhode Island Center for Justice will receive funding to support its Tenant Advocacy Project, which is dedicated to improving housing conditions for low-income tenants renting in the private market. The Project accomplishes its goals by providing free legal assistance to individuals and families to prevent evictions and address substandard housing conditions. This legal assistance helps to keep individuals and families in their homes, preventing the negative healthy, educational, and economic outcomes that follow displacement.

To address education and workforce development, which have been identified as two of the greatest barriers to securing affordable housing, the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation will receive a grant to further develop the Dunamis Synergy. A “Two Generation” initiative, the program supports promising young low- and moderate-income parents acquire post-secondary credentials and build successful careers while simultaneously ensuring access to high quality early childhood education for their children.