Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

Mother and DaughterThis time of year, Volunteers of America locations all over the country host special “I Remember Mama” luncheons to honor older women who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to spend Mother’s Day with their own children. These events have become beloved traditions for us, and speak to the true essence of our mission to uplift all people and help them live the most fulfilling, joyful lives possible. Mothers spend their lives putting the needs of others above their own, and I Remember Mama events provide an opportunity to let these women know that we care about them and appreciate their service.

While mothers represent pillars of love and support, we must never forget that often mothers need to be cared for, too. We see this at every level of service we offer at Volunteers of America. Many of our programs for low-income families focus on supporting single mothers with young children who need affordable housing, child care and other help. We know that housing forms the foundation for a successful life. By providing a safe and stable home, we help mothers to focus more time and attention on the care of their children.

Our programs for incarcerated women focus specifically on the relationship between these women and their children. We know that ending the cycle of intergenerational poverty depends in large part on maintaining and strengthening this bond between mother and child and ensuring that family connections don’t break down. Not only do children need care while their mothers are incarcerated, but the women need to know that they have a loving, nurturing household waiting for them once they return home. Volunteers of America is a leader nationally for innovative programs that strengthen whole communities by making sure that families affected by maternal incarceration don’t fall apart.

For older women, Volunteers of America is one of the leading providers of affordable housing and assisted living for low-income elderly people. After a lifetime spent caring for others, many women unfortunately find themselves alone without the resources available to provide for their own care. In addition to homes, we provide services like Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which provide transportation, meals, access to health care and social interaction for seniors who might not have someone to provide this assistance.

At every stage of a mother’s life, we’re there to make sure she receives the same level of care and support that she provides to her own loved ones.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Senior Female Client

The old cliché goes that “it takes a village” to help those in need. This originally referred to children, but it could also apply to low-income families, homeless veterans, frail seniors or any of the other people served by an organization like Volunteers of America. There is no way that one organization, even a very large organization, could make a lasting difference in the lives of all these people by itself. Our efforts are enriched by combining expertise and resources (both financial and human) with a variety of partners to tackle problems collectively.

Volunteers of America depends on a number of partners, both nationally and at our local affiliates, to amplify our efforts. We work closely with The Home Depot® Foundation to provide supportive housing to homeless veterans and their families. Through the Team Depot initiative, associates from the company’s stores have become a supplemental workforce across the country helping to improve housing in addition to providing donated supplies. Another partner, CBS EcoMedia®, has also provided volunteers and other resources to make Volunteers of America housing more environmentally friendly while also more comfortable and welcoming for residents. One of our oldest national partnerships, with the Major League Baseball Players Trust, has inspired more than 65,000 high school students to volunteer in their communities since 2002, helping over 205,000 people in need.

And it’s not just large corporations that support our work. We are always looking for local community partners to help with product donations, financial support, volunteer engagement and raising awareness. Many of our clients would not receive the help they need without the involvement of these valued partners. To learn more about how community and corporate partners support the work of Volunteers of America, as well as ways to get involved, visit http://www.voa.org/Get-Involved/Be-a-Partner.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Trailside I - Community Building

After five years, it seems the sluggish economy is starting to turn itself around. That’s the good news, and certainly benefits the vulnerable people who depend on Volunteers of America for assistance. But there’s also a flip side. With a recovering economy comes real estate prices that start to move upward … which is great if you’re a homeowner wanting to build equity, but not so great for those in need of affordable housing. This upward price pressure is especially evident in the rental markets of many American cities. Reduced home building in recent years, coupled with stricter mortgage lending practices, has led to a tremendous demand for rental properties, driving prices above the means of many lower income families.

At Volunteers of America, we believe decent affordable homes create the foundation for a successful life. We’re committed to building housing that not only supports our residents, but also fits the needs of the whole community. Volunteers of America is committed to providing low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities a decent and affordable place to live. With more than 17,300 units under our management, we are one of the largest providers of quality affordable housing in the country. Nationally, Volunteers of America owns and operates approximately 380 affordable housing communities from coast to coast and in Puerto Rico that are home to almost 25,000 people.

As demographics change and our nation’s senior population grows significantly, Volunteers of America is also a national leader in providing care and housing to these seniors. In the U.S. today, we are one of largest nonprofit providers of affordable senior housing, skilled nursing care and assisted living for seniors. The needs of our senior population are certain to become even more pressing in the coming decades, as the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double by the year 2030.

Our commitment to affordable rental housing – for families, seniors and many others – remains unwavering. For more information about Volunteers of America’s national portfolio of housing and related supportive services, please visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org/housing.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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When tragedy strikes, like the recent tornado in Oklahoma, I’m reminded of the very serious responsibility we at Volunteers of America assume in the lives of the people we serve. While we’re not a first responder in times of emergency, like The Red Cross, we do have clients in facilities all over the country who often find themselves in harm’s ways when a natural disaster occurs.

Many of these people – be they children, the elderly or people with intellectual or physical disabilities – are truly dependent on us for their day-to-day care, and it’s up to us to ensure that they remain safe and accounted for. Others, like our homeless clients or residents in Volunteers of America affordable housing communities, may not be under our direct guardianship, but still need our help to find new places to live when homes are destroyed by fire, weather or other catastrophes.

Volunteers of America is an organization that’s often at its best when things are at their worst. In the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina, when I was still CEO of our Texas affiliate, all members of our “family” joined together to help those displaced in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. In many cases, this required moving disabled and elderly clients to Texas or Kentucky or other far-off places where they could be accommodated in the aftermath of the storm. For many it was a long road back to normalcy, but we stood by them to make sure their needs were met. Even though this meant, for many of us, long hours away from family and friends who were also reeling from the aftermath of the storm, we didn’t give it a second thought. It’s just what we do.

For those who lost their homes and belongings in the Oklahoma tornado, as well as other natural disasters, the road to recovery will be long, as well. Fortunately, Volunteers of America clients and facilities in the region were largely unaffected by the recent storm … but as we know, the potential for another emergency is always on the horizon and we must be prepared to react quickly to protect the people we serve.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Homestead at Anoka

Homestead at Anoka

We often say at Volunteers of America that housing is the foundation for building a successful life. So many other problems are impossible to fix until someone has a safe, stable place to live. This is part of the reason why the mortgage crisis has had such a sharp and lasting effect on the economy.

All over the country, one of the first services Volunteers of America offers in many communities is housing. And it’s not just affordable apartments. Many of the homes we provide are specialized for specific groups of people, be they seniors, those with disabilities or those transitioning from homelessness.

The homeless often represent the most visible need for housing. But unfortunately, homelessness is a much more complicated issue than simply lacking a home, and affects many people in many different ways. We know not all homeless people are the same. Some are individuals or families who have experienced an economic setback like the loss of a job or the foreclosure of a home. They may be forced to stay on a friend’s couch or move into transitional housing until their financial situation improves. Other people may suffer from longer-term homelessness rooted in addiction or mental illness.

We understand that homelessness is not a condition that is fixed simply by providing a home. Many people need housing paired with support over the long term to rebuild their lives and change the problems that led them to living on the streets in the first place. A lack of continued support is where so many efforts to combat homelessness fall short.

From a family motel in Denver to new transitional housing for veterans in inner-city Chicago to our new long term care campus in Anoka, Minnesota, Volunteers of America provides shelter that meets a wide variety of needs for people in need of decent homes. We’re experts, not just when it comes to affordable housing, but also at a variety of services that help people and families grow stronger. We work to help not only the visible homeless living on the streets, but also the “invisible” homeless who may have temporary shelter but lack a more permanent, stable home.

Homelessness and a shortage of affordable housing is something that can be overcome as long as we fully understand the many needs people have when it comes to building stronger lives. With hundreds of properties nationwide housing more than 25,000 residents, I’m happy to say that we’re providing strong foundations for a growing number of people to thrive. Learn more about Volunteers of America’s housing services and assistance for the homeless.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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This Is Why We Do What We DoDuring the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Volunteers of America launched a new national advertising campaign focused on a central theme: “This is why we do what we do.™” Created in collaboration with The Richards Group, a top branding and advertising firm based in Dallas, the campaign was produced last summer and the print ads feature the faces of actual clients served by our organization. It was important for us to include real people to make a stronger connection between the work we do and the lives that are transformed by that work every day.

This kind of ad campaign is something new for Volunteers of America. For a long time, we’ve described ourselves as an organization that’s “on the front lines, not in the headlines.” We’ve focused our attention on serving those in need rather than seeking out attention. While remaining humble servants certainly is important, I’m reminded of the Bible verse from Matthew 5:15 – “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house.”

Now as much as ever, it’s critically important for us to make this kind of investment in “brand awareness.” Our clients depend on us not only to provide basic services like housing, but also to provide them with a voice and preserve the assistance on which they depend. We owe it to them to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, and to ensure that the organization has access to additional resources – financial resources, in particular – to continue sustaining and growing the programs we offer to those who need us. An organization like Volunteers of America can’t do that if we remain anonymous. To compete and survive in an economic environment where an increasing number of charities compete for a dwindling pool of funding, while also responding to a growing number of people who need help, we must do whatever we can to distinguish ourselves and inform others about the needs of our clients.

We plan to air a second round of television ads later this spring around Memorial Day on cable news networks including FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, as well as on “CBS Sunday Morning.” We’re also working to secure print ads in a number of high-profile print publications. While we normally shy away from blowing our own horn, we feel that our clients are best served when we do what we can to bring the issues that affect them out into the spotlight.

To learn more, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org, or view the new ads on Volunteers of America’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/VolofAmerica.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Let’s be honest about the “fiscal cliff” and the faulty logic that claims that charitable tax deduction is a benefit for the wealthy that won’t be missed. Political leaders touting this bromide are justifying proposals to redirect these dollars away from important work happening in communities nationwide.

Congress is seriously considering caps or cuts to the charitable deduction. The potential result—millions served by America’s nonprofit sector will be hit with the double whammy of government cutbacks and decline in the support of organizations like Volunteers of America, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the American Cancer Society.

Quietly and humbly carrying out extraordinary missions every day, it may be easy to overlook the nonprofit sector as a growth industry and vital part of America’s social and economic fabric. Limiting or doing away with the charitable deduction at a time when people are still reeling from the recession and budget cutbacks simply makes no sense. It won’t help the federal government avoid the fiscal cliff. It will simply shift it to the nonprofit sector and communities that depend on it.

Hundreds of leaders serving our communities will travel to our nation’s capital December 4-5 to make sure elected officials understand what is at stake. These leaders of the Charitable Giving Coalition include more than 50 of America’s most active charities, nonprofits and other organizations. We are speaking out to protect a 100-year American philanthropic tradition that encourages giving back and strengthening communities. We’re also urging anyone committed to protecting the charitable deduction and the communities served by charitable giving to make sure their voices are heard.

We aim to pierce the “inside-the-beltway” bubble with a reality check from thousands of communities outside the beltway about what is at stake—crucial programs and services, from food pantries and medical research to youth programs and seed grants to support new businesses and job creation.

Data suggests that for every dollar deducted through this incentive, communities receive $3 of benefit. No other tax provision generates the kind of positive impact. But, if donors have less incentive to give, donations decline. The result is the loss of billions of dollars to support worthy causes, the jobs they provide, and the millions they serve.

According to Giving USA individual contributions to charitable causes in America account for 73 percent of all giving. These donations help achieve breakthroughs and benefits that put our country on a path of continuous improvement. A new public opinion poll commissioned by the United Way found that most Americans (79 percent) believe reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would have a negative impact on charities and the people they serve. Of those who indicate they would reduce charitable giving, the majority (62 percent) indicate they would have to reduce their contributions by a significant amount—by 25 percent or more. Two out of every three Americans (67 percent) are opposed to reducing the charitable tax deduction.

The message is clear. Americans want to protect the charitable deduction.

And, consider this: Nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion every year through human services and provide 13.5 million jobs. They account for 5.4 percent of the GDP and 9 percent of all wages paid. The diverse nonprofit sector supports efforts to, for example, develop technology and medications to improve our health—like insulin, the polio vaccine, the MRI, electron microscope and pacemaker, provide educational opportunities and access to health services and ensure housing and shelter for the most vulnerable. Other nonprofits enhance the arts and cultural activities, conserve wetlands and protect the environment, protect civil and voting rights, and preserve historic treasures.

Now is not the time for Congress to dismantle a tradition that supports America’s nonprofits and the people and causes they serve. No doubt our nation faces a fiscal crisis that must be addressed, but Congress should stop seeing the charitable deduction as an easy mark and acknowledge the fiscal cliff they will create for America’s most vulnerable at a time they can least afford it. Giving strengthens our communities. Urge your members of Congress to preserve the charitable deduction.

Click here to add writing to your member of Congress to preserve charitable giving to your GOOD “to-do” list.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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