What does it mean when Solid Ground says we believe poverty is solvable? There are more than 67,000 answers to that question – each a unique story – because we tailor our programs and services to the specific needs of the people who come to us.
“Poverty can be a cause of domestic violence, and domestic violence can be a cause for poverty.” ~Indianapolis Recorder, 10/14/21¹
People like Loyda, who was referred to our program in 2021. A single parent with two young sons, she was living with her family in a local shelter at the time to escape severe domestic violence.
Loyda was matched with Jose Fregoso, a Bilingual Spanish/English Case Manager. Jose spoke with Loyda in her native language, which helped create an instant connection. He was able to support her transition from living in fear to finding safe and affordable housing for her family.
On the same page thanks to speaking the same language
“I knew our shared language was going to be key right away when I met her, and she has even told us that she appreciated the fact that I spoke Spanish,” Jose says. “She appreciated that I could communicate what she wanted to everybody. At almost every corner, there was no Spanish speaker; the Spanish component is what is really making a difference.”
In less than two months, Loyda and her sons moved into housing. Jose got her money for move-in costs and several months of rental assistance. He also helped her figure out that her aging car was going to cost more than it was worth to fix and helped her establish a savings plan that allowed her to buy a better vehicle, which she needed to get to work.
Impressively, Loyda was able to work her job throughout her crisis, and later increase her work hours and wages to better support her family. She now earns enough to pay her full rent. She says her boys couldn’t be happier. “She told me they could not wait to get out of the shelter and have their own place. Her boys love to eat, and eating at home now is something new for them,” Jose says. “It just worked the way it should.”
He says when he accompanied Loyda on the walk-though at her new apartment, “She told me, ‘It’s so beautiful, so great, I have my own place.’ Seeing the key handed to her and the smile she had on her face! I’m not going to forget that moment.”
Doing what it takes, person by person
Marie* and her son came to one of our housing programs five years ago as a referral from Solid Ground’s Broadview program, the only DV shelter located in the city of Seattle. They’d been fleeing for a long time and lived through a great deal of trauma. Solid Ground’s Sand Point Family Housing was a safe place for them to rebuild all they’d lost.
Working at Solid Ground “…gives me the flexibility to do what it takes to get people back where they need to be, and to offer the support and encouragement they need to achieve whatever goals they have for themselves.” ~Shavon Jones, Sand Point Housing Residential Services Manager
Marie suffered dental damage from her previous relationship, and with advocacy from our staff, she was able to receive a full smile makeover from Give Back a Smile, which helped her regain her self-respect.
“They’ve given her implants, they’ve fixed things. It’s something that’s been happening over the last few years, and she’s just coming to the end of it,” says Shavon Jones, Sand Point Housing Residential Services Manager. “She’s got a whole new smile. It makes her confidence so much better. You can tell the difference when she smiles now.”
Marie has rebuilt family connections that suffered due to her toxic relationship. She now has great support from her family. She’s a great mother and her son is doing really well in high school.
With Shavon’s support, Marie also rebuilt her credit and financial knowledge and learned to manage her budget. This year, she graduated from Permanent Supportive Housing and found an apartment nearby, where she’s settling and getting ready to return to the workforce.
“That’s why I work at an agency like Solid Ground,” Shavon says, “because it gives me the flexibility to do what it takes to get people back where they need to be, and to offer the support and encouragement they need to achieve whatever goals they have for themselves.”
You might not think a nonprofit’s Finance department would play a role in direct services, but they’re a vital part of our team. Recently, Solid Ground Finance helped support Jonny,* who was living in their car and behind on car payments.
Jonny had purchased the car from a predatory dealer who charged over twice the vehicle’s value and was now threatening repossession. Our JourneyHome program was able provide enough cash assistance to get their payments up to date, but their case manager was worried they’d fall back into debt the next month.
When Shelly Parrish, our Senior Director of Finance and Operations, heard about Jonny’s plight, she got creative. “I said, ‘Let’s try to find a permanent solution to this. How much would it cost to pay the contract out instead of just pushing it down the road?’
“The thing that keeps most of the Finance people here at Solid Ground is that they know they are serving a greater purpose. They are very aware that what they do every day has an impact on people.” ~Shelly Parrish, Senior Director of Finance and Operations
“The case manager said, ‘We don’t have any funding in our program for that.’ I said, ‘I’ll find you funding. If that’s what they need to get their feet on the ground, let’s try to do that.’” Ultimately, it took $5,000 to buy out the contract and get Jonny out of the predatory lender’s grip.
“There was a program-restricted barrier; there was only so much client assistance money available,” explains Shelly. “But if we could use a different kind of funding, we could really solve the underlying problem instead of putting a Band-Aid on it.”
“We realized we could use COVID-19 money,” she says, “because it turned out they’d been living in their car, had gotten COVID twice, and were using the car to isolate rather than going to a shelter where they might catch COVID again.”
“I think most of the places we come from in Finance are very transactional,” Shelly says. “You paid a bill, but you weren’t really thinking about the impact that bill had on somebody’s life. The thing that keeps Finance people here at Solid Ground is that they know they are serving a greater purpose. They are very aware that what they do every day has an impact on people.
“One thing we do is cut emergency checks every day. No other agencies do. Why do we do this? Because people need eviction prevention funds – particularly in this rental market – or the money to get a deposit down on an apartment. It really takes a number of disciplines to make this larger impact on a family.”
It’s this collaboration across agency departments and programs that makes Solid Ground unique – and effective.
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