Warren Village is a safe, affordable, and supportive place to live. Residents have access to resources and programming to support them as they work to change the trajectory of their lives and achieve economic mobility and independence. So what happens when residents are ready to move out and how do they reach that major milestone? The process begins with a resident finding their footing and settling in when they move into Warren Village and connecting with their family advocate, and it ends with that resident moving out to stable housing. Residents navigate the path to sustainable housing with Family Services staff, specifically Housing and Finance Navigator, Ashley Rimler, and Housing Continuum Assistant Director, Lynn Halfmann.
“When a resident first moves in, we let them settle in with their family advocate and assess what emergency services they might need,” says Lynn. “Do they have income? Do they have furniture? Do they have kids in school? Do they need mental health services?” After about three months, the resident meets with advocates to figure out whether they would like to focus on education or career or both. Ashley then meets with them to create a housing and finance plan. Together, they go over the resident’s finances, education and career goals, and housing goals. Ashley will pull their credit score, one of the most important pieces of information in the process, and together they assess any barriers the resident may need to overcome to reach those goals. Residents most often come to Warren Village with a low credit score, high debt to income ratio, debt to a landlord, or evictions. These financial barriers, many of which are results of inequitable and oppressive systems, keep them from getting into subsidized housing, renting at full-market value, or getting homeownership loans.
To raise credit scores, residents participate in rent reporting, as well as financial education classes. Warren Village is a Financial Empowerment Center through the City and County of Denver. “We have a free financial counselor who residents meet with on Zoom,” says Lynn. “Residents are most successful when they meet with the financial counselor every month.” In addition, Ashley teaches three Life Skills Classes about rent reporting, and housing application education and navigation. Ashley and Lynn are passionate about empowering residents with the education and knowledge, and to let them become the experts. “Our hope is that residents leave here with the knowledge they need, and are confident about their housing options and their rights as a renter or homeowner,” says Lynn.
Housing plans look different for every resident. They may see themselves in subsidized rental housing, full-market rental housing, or maybe homeownership. After residents learn about the different options, Ashley signs off on each housing plan. Then, when they meet one-on-one over the next two years, they can update the plan, pivot if needed, and discuss and assess housing offers as they come up. Recently Lynn and Ashley have seen residents really leaning into their housing dreams, putting in the hard financial work, and achieving their goals. Seven residents purchased homes upon exiting in the last year, and 93% of residents have permanent housing when they leave Warren Village. “At the end of the day, it’s the residents who are really working on every single thing,” says Ashley. “To see that confidence build over time, it’s my favorite part.”