How To Start A Housing Program in Your Community

A housing facility is a home designed for the purpose of providing decent, safe, and sanitary dwelling accommodations for individuals who do not have the capacity to live on their own. If you feel like there is a need in your community, you can build a plan to start your housing program in 4 steps.

Step 1 Choose A Target Population

Of course, you'll need to start your nonprofit in order to open your housing program. If you're not sure how to start your nonprofit learn more here. You'll also want to contact your state licensing organization to find out what licenses, permits, and insurance you will need to get started.

While you are working on achieving 501(c)3 status, you need to start deciding on your demographic. Are you going to be serving domestic violence victims, mothers, veterans, ex-offenders, youth in foster care, troubled youth, homeless men, homeless families?

Conduct research to determine why your target population needs your help. Here's a few questions to help you get started:

-If your client doesn't have housing, where do they go?

-Will there be community support for your home?

-Is there a need for transitional housing in your area?

-Are there other places where your demographic goes for housing? If so, will your housing improve services or meet an unmet need in your community?

-Are there rules or polices that the government/court would require for housing this demographic?

These answers will be essential to convincing others to support your cause.

Step 2 Research Funding

To start a housing facility you're going to need MONEY. If your clients are going to be living in this facility at low or no cost, how are you going to pay the bills? This is the most intensive stage of starting your home because it is imperative that you have a comprehensive fundraising plan in order to convince others to jump on board.

Generate a list of donors that will provide support for your organization. If you don't know any "rich" people you need to get out there and meet people. Start attending conferences, meetups, and other nonprofit events. Just like you are going to find people who can help you, find out if there are ways that you can provide value. You are going to need individuals who are willing and able to contribute or assist you in raising funds. Building a strong network will help you attract the right kind of people into your environment.

Build Community Support by promoting the benefits of the housing program (such as less crime or a smaller homeless population) to local individuals and companies, and encouraging donations (both monetary and in-kind donations will help!). You can also host fundraisers to build awareness and raise funding. Design quality marketing material that will attract donors to your organization and want to learn more.

Apply For Grant Funding. Search for private and public funding for your housing facility. Create a list of grants that your nonprofit would be eligible to apply for and gather all of the information needed to apply for these grants.

Step 3 Get A Facility and Inventory

Here are some things you'll need to consider when choosing your housing facility and outfitting it with furniture and appliances.

Pay attention to the proposed location. If you are serving adults, there will need to be access to public transportation and jobs. Make sure you are choosing an area where minorities, volunteers, or formal prisoners will feel comfortable.

Decide on the housing structure. How many people will live in the home? With that in mind, how many bedrooms will the home need? The home should have room for individuals to have their own space and to gather as a community.

Check zoning requirements to make certain you don't have any legal problems. You need to make sure that the area you choose is zoned to have a designated amount of unrelated individuals living together. This will involve contacting a pro bono lawyer or a realtor.

Inventory is expensive! Check with individuals and corporations for in-kind donations such as bathroom supplies, kitchen utensils, chairs, and couches.

Step 4 Teach Life Skills

The purpose of a housing facility is to assist your clients with their living needs, with the goal of them obtaining the life skills they need to be able to live independently.

Develop rules and guidelines that you're clients will need to abide by if they want to be apart of the community. Have clear consequences for disruptive behavior and a system in place for removing individuals from the program if needed.

Make an individualized plan. Make certain every client feels important. Upon entry, sit down with your client to discuss their skills and weaknesses in regards to living independently. Make a list of all of the skills that will need to be improved in order for the client to live on their own, and make a plan for how these goals will be achieved. Include a timeline for learning each new skill.

Determine what kind of volunteers you will need in your facility. Will you need counselors, financial literacy instructors, substance abuse group leaders? Having a good idea of what your clients will need help with, will help you keep a keen eye out when you are building your network, for people who may be able to help. To be self sufficient your client may need:

-cleaning skills

-cooking skills

-shopping and budgeting skills

-saving skills

-resume assistance

-help finding a job

You'll also want to connect your transitioning residents to housing programs that can provide them with permanent housing and minimal support services.

With these steps in mind, you'll want to write out a comprehensive business plan for starting your living facility and develop a reasonable time frame for completing each goal.

This article is just for informational purposes. It is not intended to be legal advice. Check other sources, such as the IRS, and consult with legal counsel or an accountant.

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