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Nonprofit Spotlight: Hearts for Homes, Inc.

Posted on February 24, 2021

Richard Cannon, President & CEO, Hearts for Homes, Inc. spotlights his organization, the winner of the 2020 First State Bank Banksgiving award.

How long has Hearts for Homes been in existence?

Hearts for Homes was established in May 2016.

Mission:

Working with its partners and supporters, Hearts for Homes (H4H) aspires to end child homelessness in Macomb County by helping homeless children and their families secure their own home. H4H also provides housing counseling, rent assistance, and connections to services and resources that empower families to break the cycle of poverty and inspire hope of achieving greater economic stability.

Services:

Program activities in support of H4Hs’ mission:

  1. Help homeless families get into their own homes by providing rent or security deposit payment assistance.
  2. Help keep at-risk low-income families, whose incomes have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from being evicted by providing rent payment assistance.
  3. Provide homeless families with housing counseling, lists of affordable housing developments, and contact information for private landlords and property managers.
  4. Work in partnership with Lakeshore Legal Aid to assist at-risk families in applying for federal rent payment assistance, and provide gap rent assistance as may be needed.
  5. Provide housing assistance to families referred from Macomb Intermediate School District Homeless Liaisons, Macomb Community Action, and other agencies that serve under-resourced populations.
  6. Work in partnership with Greenpath Financial Wellness to help families complete a Free Financial Assessment and prepare an Action Plan and Budget.
  7. Participate in the Macomb County Continuum of Care’s Landlord Engagement Committee (LEC) to coordinate strategies to reduce barriers and increase the number of landlords who will rent to homeless and at-risk families.

What is your service area?

Macomb County

First State Bank Banksgiving Grant Activities:

Hearts for Homes was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was the Grand Prize Winner of a $10,000 grant award from First State Bank as part of its 2020 Banksgiving Program. This grant is being used to provide rent payment assistance to help keep at-risk low-income families, whose incomes have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from being evicted and becoming homeless. Funds will also be used to provide rent or security deposit assistance to help homeless families get into their own homes.

What has been your biggest challenge in adapting to the time of COVID-19?

The organization’s biggest challenge has been shifting from in-person fundraising events to web-based fundraising. It resulted in a 34% net decrease in fundraising revenue and a drop in organizational donations in 2020. However, H4H is learning that a ‘silver lining’ of web based fundraising events is that it allows the organization to raise homeless awareness and funding from a broader audience outside Macomb County.

Where do you currently see the most need for your services?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many low-income families, that were or are employed in the service sector jobs (e.g. restaurants), in losing income or becoming unemployed. Many of these families are still at-risk of eviction and homelessness. While federal assistance is being made available, it is insufficient to meet the demand for rent assistance to keep families in place. There is a need for supplemental philanthropic support of nonprofit organizations working to keep families from becoming homeless. Hearts for Homes is one of the few organizations that helps homeless families that lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence get into their own home, and provide gap rental assistance for families at-risk of eviction to supplement federal and state assistance to keep families from becoming homeless.

Volunteer opportunities at Hearts for Homes:

  • Board Member to fill one open board seat.
  • Handle social media posts and prepare bi-annual newsletter to raise homeless awareness and tell the success stories.
  • Assist with case management and follow-up support to families.

How can people learn more about your organization?