Standing In the gap
Rental Assistance - Your Financial Freedom Course
Program Goal “Keeping families stabilized in their home by assisting with rent and teaching sound financial management and budgeting skills.”
These programs will provide rent assistance and teach budgeting/financial management skills to our neighbors needing assistance. Each neighbor who applies for and receives rental assistance in the amount of $200 up to $500 is required to attend and complete a budgeting and financial management course called Your Financial Freedom (YFFC). The course consists of two classes that take place on 2 consecutive Fridays from 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM. It is designed to educate participants on management of their resources through budgeting and planning. It also provides these students the many resources in our community which assist people who struggle with economic instability.
According to data collected between 2020 & 2021 on housing and poverty in Abilene, we learned that current median rents in Abilene can be from $700 to $900. This is a 17% increase compared to the previous survey.
As one can see from these statistics, rent costs in Abilene have increased significantly in just the last year. And yet for most of the people we serve, it is unlikely that their income increases in line with housing inflation in Abilene. Thus the cost of renting property has placed a heavy burden on our low-income citizens in trying to remain in their apartment or rental house. With economists forecasting higher inflation this year, it's likely that low-income people in Abilene will have a greater need of ministries like the Christian Service Center to help bridge the gap between their income and expenses - including rent assistance.
Another need that we will address for our clients is what appears to be a lack of education and training in managing money. In the years we have offered our budgeting classes, which we require them to take in order to receive rental assistance from the Service Center, we have found that the majority of students have hungered for learning how to live within their means, how to reduce debt, ways to shop wisely and distinguish between needs and wants.
Some students have told us that no one has ever taught them basic budgeting principles. Therefore, we believe that the Your Financial Freedom Classes component provides a much-needed service for low-income individuals and families.
PROCESSES FOR PROGRAM
- CSC promotes the Rent Assistance Program (RAP) and dates for applications through information in our lobby, on the marquee in front of our building, on Facebook and through our daily in-take and interview processes. Applications are available early each month.
- Applications are available in the CSC lobby for five days every month and anyone can apply. Six to eight awards are chosen, based on greatest need. Applicants are then notified that they will receive the award once they have completed the budgeting classes if they choose to participate in the program.
- Application Packets will be due and considered LATE if they are not completed and returned by the date on the application.
- ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE TURNED IN COMPLETED BY THE DAY THEY ARE DUE.
- Reviews of all Applications will be conducted by the Review Committee.
- Applicants will be chosen and notified by phone before classes begin.
- YFFC classes take place Friday 8:00 AM – 2:00PM and last for two weeks.
- All Rental Assistance recipients must turn in a Rent Verification Form with Application.
- All Rental Assistance recipients are required to attend both classes and complete the Your Financial Freedom Course to receive monetary help through RAP.
- Checks for rent will not be released to landlords or leasing agents until the applicants have completed both classes of the Your Financial Freedom Course.
- Rental Assistance Awards range from $200 - $500.