Daily Camera – By Alex Burness
Boulder and the Emergency Family Assistance Association, in partnership, are launching a pilot program designed to prevent homelessness among families with children.
The program, called Keep Families Housed, follows a budget amendment that the City Council made last year in the interest of supporting families experiencing or on the brink of homelessness.
In 2017, the city will contribute $263,000 to the program. There is currently no plan in place to extend the funding into 2018 or beyond, though that may be done later this year during the budget drafting process.
The money, EFAA says, will go toward families who meet health- and education-based requirements, such as ensuring that their children are enrolled in school and nutritional programs, having health insurance or having completed financial stability courses.
Some families will be eligible for one-time rent assistance, while EFAA is prepared to provide aid for up to three months to 100 additional families who meet certain requirements.
The organization — which is based in north Boulder and helps cover basic needs of Boulder and Broomfield residents in need of “safety-net” services — says it is currently providing one-time rent assistance to 200 families
Eviction and housing insecurity are of regular concern to hundreds of families in the area; within the Boulder Valley School District alone, there are an estimated 500 homeless children, 300 of whom live inside Boulder city limits.
Students qualify as homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento Act when “they lack either a regular or adequate residence.”
“Many hardworking low-income families pay 70 percent or more of their income on rent each month, leaving them unable to save for emergencies and extremely vulnerable to unexpected bills or reduction in income,” EFAA wrote in a statement accompanying the announcement of Keep Families Housed.
“When a bump in the road happens, like job loss or unexpected expenses, and the family is unable to pay rent, emergency rental assistance is effective at avoiding eviction, dislocation and trauma to children.”
Those interested in applying for rental assistance through Keep Families Housed should contact the organization at 303-442-3042 to schedule a meeting with a staff member, EFAA advised.
An independent group is slated to review Keep Families Housed after one year, and the analysis that comes of the review is expected to inform the future of the program, and possibly of others