Housing First Recipient Wins Battle Against Chronic Homelessness

HCA HeaderHousing First Recipient Uses Financial Education, Match Savings, and Rental Subsidy to Win Battle Against Chronic Homelessness

From: Hawaiian Community Assets [mailto:info@hawaiiancommunity.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:15 AM

By Samantha Champion

WAIANAE, HI – Victoriano Ortiz, a 52-year old Native Hawaiian man, first came Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) in January 2011 while staying at the Kumuhonua Transitional Shelter. Having spent decades living on the beach with no roof over his head, he found opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness through financial education.

“My case managers told me about HCA and I took advantage of (the financial education services) because I was tired of being homeless and wanted to improve my financial situation,” shared Victoriano, who struggled to find an affordable rental on social security disability income of $674 per month.

Working with HCA’s counselors, he completed a 4-hour Kahua Waiwai Financial Education Workshop series and received one-on-one counseling to create and follow a monthly budget, develop a savings plan, improve his credit, and learn how to become a financially qualified renter.

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Over the next three and half years Victoriano met regularly with HCA counselors and worked closely with his case managers at Kumuhonua and later, Onelauena, to find rental housing he could afford. Even with housing program fees of $350 per month, he diligently followed his budget, adjusting when changes needed to be made and saved into his Trust account at Onelauena. 

By March 2015, Victoriano had saved $1,060, secured $223 in SNAP benefits to increase his household monthly income to $956, and successfully secured a 1-bedroom rental home in Waianae (see right).

Victoriano was motivated to save by HCA’s one-of-a-kind Renters MATCH Savings Account, a product funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that provided him a 4:1 match on $500 saved for a total of $2,000.

“I was able to keep money in my savings account and made no withdrawals which qualified me for the Renters Match money. It was a big help,” said Victoriano, sharing that his Renters MATCH funds paid his rent in-advance for 11 months which allows him to continue saving into his emergency savings each month.

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As a Housing First recipient, he also received rent subsidy through the Institute for Human Services to reduce his rental payment to $176 per month for the first year. Additional financial assistance was provided by Salvation Army which covered his $950 security deposit.

“I would tell (other homeless individuals) to go to HCA, listen to their counselor,” advised Victoriano (pictured left). “(HCA’s) guidance was very helpful. I’m not homeless anymore!”

Victoriano is now living happily in his 1-bedroom home in Waianae with his girlfriend and puppy.

dividerHawaiian Community Assets (HCA) is a 501c3 nonprofit Department of Housing and Urban Development certified housing counseling agency and Native community development financial institution that builds the capacity of low- and moderate-income communities to achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians. HCA’s philosophy – kahua waiwai – supports permanent, affordable housing, culturally-relevant financial education, and asset building and community lending programs to achieve our mission.

Visit us at http://www.HawaiianCommunity.net

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