One of the goals for our House for Homes – Grandview Project is to donate profits from the sale of the home to a charity that supports our local housing needs. St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho has a special department focused on providing housing for those in need, so we felt that this charity could be a good fit. We had an opportunity to visit with Kelli Lunceford , the Housing Director for St Vincent’s de Paul, and learned all about the amazing work they are doing in the community.
“St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho has been serving our community for over 70 years,” says Kelli. The mission of the Housing Department is to provide permanent housing without prejudice, treating each household we serve with respect, fairness, integrity, and compassion. In our brief tour of the facilities, it was easy to see how the housing needs of the community, including individuals and families, are being met through the various programs the mission provides. “We’re all a paycheck away from being homeless,” says Kelli. “We strive for a Continuum of Care helping people in tough situations, who are without a home. We bring them through the shelter, then to transitional housing and finally achieving permanent housing”. The charity has touched many lives and through our tour, we met people that are still volunteering at the organization years after receiving the help they needed to get back on their feet.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
To meet the need for emergency housing, St. Vincent de Paul offers a Men’s Shelter (the only one in the area) and a Women and Children’s Shelter. Both facilities are limited to 12 residents and are always at capacity. Due to the limited size, they turn individuals away every day.
To fulfill the mission of providing permanent housing, the charity offers units for individuals, families, seniors and individuals with a chronic mental disability. Residents pay 30% of their income and the government will match the remaining balance of rent. St. Vincent de Paul then covers the remaining costs of electricity, repairs, and other maintenance. There are one bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom units, with the greatest need being 1 bedroom. “There is a 7 year wait time for our one bedroom units, so filling this need is one of our biggest challenges,” says Kelli. The long wait times gives applicants little hope of resolving their housing need and many of the applicants can’t find other housing because of high cost and other factors.
”Hands down, our biggest need is affordable housing, one bedroom, and three bedroom units. Affordable units are just nonexistent when you consider the low pay and high rent of this area,” says Kelli.
St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho also offers a dining hall for anyone in the community to receive a free dinner Monday – Friday from 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM. Volunteers and donated food make this service possible. They expanded the dining hall last fall in order to support the growing need. They also now offer showers and a laundry facility which are available Monday – Friday from 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM.
Funding the Needs of the Community
Through government programs, St. Vincent de Paul is able to sustain the Men’s Shelter and Women and Children’s Shelter for about 5 months. The funds generated from their thrift store assist them the remaining months of the year. However, this barely sustains their current facilities, each with a 12 person maximum. “Unfortunately we must turn people away daily due to the limited capacity,” says Kelli. “Only through donations will we be able to expand our facilities to allow for more men, women and children to have emergency housing.”
The government programs that assisted with the building of the latest independent living facilities for seniors and mentally ill is no longer available. “Going forward, we must rely on donations to support any further expansion or building,” says Kelli.
A big thank you to Kelli for meeting with us and providing a tour of the St. Vincent de Paul facilities. Our hope now, more than ever, is to raise as many funds as possible to help the community.