A collaborative effort to keep at-risk children and their families in their homes has received $5 million in federal funding.
The grant – $1 million a year over five years – was announced this afternoon by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Four Oaks, the non-profit child-welfare and juvenile justice agency based in Cedar Rapids.
Partners United for Supportive Housing Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR) will work with other agencies to place at-risk families in housing owned by the Affordable Housing Network, a Four Oaks subsidiary.
“It’s to see if we can take our collaborative approach and see if we can get better results for kids and families,” said Anne Gruenewald, Four Oaks chief strategy officer. “If families are homeless or at risk of being homeless, we want to make sure that getting themselves in to affordable housing reduces that risk.”
The larger goal is to reduce families’ involvement in the child welfare system.
“We believe we can really begin to change children’s lives in the long term when we look at how to consistently meet their basic needs, and housing is certainly one of those needs,” said Gruenewald.
Four Oaks is 0ne of five agencies across the country receiving the HHS grants. PUSH-CR is the first such program of its kind in Iowa, according to agency spokeswoman Liz Mathis.
Affordable Housing Network owns or manages more than 500 rental units in Cedar Rapids. Last week, Affordable Housing announced it’s taking over management of Geneva Tower, the downtown Cedar Rapids apartment complex for low-income tenants.
In May, Four Oaks announced the TotalChild Wellington Heights Initiative to upgrade affordable housing in that southeast Cedar Rapids neighborhood. Under that program, Affordable Housing purchased and is renovating 32 Wellington Heights properties and plans to take over management of another 23.
Four Oaks and partners convened by the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation include the Iowa Department of Human Services, Foundation 2, Area Substance Abuse Council, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Linn County Public Health, United Way, Waypoint, Abbe Center for Community Mental Health, Partnership for Safe Families, Horizons, Kirkwood, City of Cedar Rapids Housing Services, Diversity Focus, Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, Linn County Community Services, Iowa Children’s Justice, Cedar Rapids Community School District, University of Iowa, Leadership Circle and the National Center on Family Homelessness.