As we approach the fourth year since the COVID-19 outbreak, the persistent financial instability for our neighbors who live on low incomes indicates a need for a new approach. For many of these households, financial support alone – though impactful in the short term – is not enough to address insurmountable rent debt in the long term.
Community Roots Housing is responding to the ongoing rent debt crisis by launching the Housing Stabilization Program (HSP), a pilot project designed to provide targeted financial and supportive resources for Community Roots residents who live at the Liberty Bank Building. With your help, our goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of 2023 to support the costs of rental assistance, Resident Services staff time, and other implementation expenses associated with this new model.Support the Housing Stabilization Program today
Meet Community Roots residents who have benefitted from rental assistance
A new approach
The HSP takes a more comprehensive approach to overdue rents by offering residents one-time rental assistance combined with personalized, coordinated services that aim to address the “why” behind each individual household’s economic insecurity. Through a “light-touch” case management model, Community Roots staff will work one-on-one with residents to determine their needs and identify opportunities for service referrals. Beyond establishing back rent payment plans, HSP services could include support with:
- finding employment opportunities
- accessing mental health or substance use care
- securing supplemental benefits to pay for food and other basic needs
- navigating the healthcare system
- arranging childcare
Tackling these challenges together, residents and Community Roots staff will work to increase resource accessibility, strengthen financial security, and improve housing stability. Through the HSP pilot, Community Roots further seeks to understand how to more effectively intervene in the ongoing financial insecurity impacting our low-income communities. Based on resident engagement and feedback, Community Roots will expand to additional buildings as funds allow. Donate today to support this new approach.
Click on the numbers below to learn more about the current state of rent debt impacting our communities.
As of August 2023, the Liberty Bank Building has the highest balance of unpaid rent when compared to the nearly 50 other buildings that Community Roots serves. While the average rent balance per building is approximately $40,000, total rental arrears for the Liberty Bank Building are upwards of $240,000, roughly six times the average.
More importantly, we know the pandemic intensified inequities throughout society for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. While these inequities impacted each individual in their own way, we must recognize that communities of color continue to face greater challenges in fully recovering—physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically—when compared to other populations.
With the deeply interconnected crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism, it is likely no coincidence that the Liberty Bank Building currently bears the heaviest burden of rent debt among Community Roots Housing buildings.
The Liberty Bank Building, built on the site of the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, is located in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood, the longtime home to Seattle’s Black community. Affirmative marketing strategies allowed Community Roots to conduct outreach to Black populations that may have been displaced from the neighborhood by rising rents. Today, the Liberty Bank Building is home to 97% residents of color.Donate today to make an impact in our communities
A reduction in accumulated rent debt has benefits that go far beyond simply being able to “catch up” on overdue expenses. Studies show that housing instability can cause psychological stress and anxiety for adults around the risks of eviction. Stable housing therefore not only helps prevent homelessness but can also cultivate a more equitable community by supporting positive outcomes in safety, education, employment, nutrition, and mental health. Moreover, research demonstrates that children who live in safe, stable housing exhibit better academic performance, fewer health problems, and improved cognitive development.
For more than five years, Community Roots has worked to support residents’ housing stability by running an in-house rental assistance program. Before the pandemic and eviction moratoria, 90% residents who received rental assistance were still stably housed one year later. Since 2020, we have administered over $5 million in philanthropic and government rental assistance.
The incredible outpouring of aid over the past few years tells us that our community shares our vision. Today, we need your help. By ensuring stable housing today, we can significantly and positively shape the communities of tomorrow.Donate to the HSP today