While providing affordable housing to Northern Rhode Islanders is NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley’s unprecedented goal, the dedicated Resident Services staff help turn those houses into homes.
NWBRV’s Resident Services team and the Office of Community Engagement are devoted to bringing residents together to make their communities remarkable places to live. Working alongside partners and funders, Resident Services provides activities and supports to residents, turning what began simply as housing, into community oriented homes and neighborhoods.
Accessing Home AmeriCorps member Jamila Ramos spoke enthusiastically about her role at NWBRV. Working in a team of 10 across Rhode Island, Accessing Home members are trained as resident services coordinators to support housing stability by aiding in things like job searches, resume building, financial budget coaching, and overall wellness.
My role is to ensure that our residents have a connection to resources that will position them for success. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic we have worked vigorously with residents who lost their jobs by securing funding from the rental assistance programs…ensuring residents were able to stay current on rent and secure their housing for the future.”Jamila Ramos, Accessing Home AmeriCorps Member
Assistance programs are inherently complicated. Agencies must do their due diligence to qualify those seeking assistance. Overburdened agency staff are not often available to keep up with applicant questions or follow up on missing information. This is where the NWBRV team is key. Having a familiar voice on the other end of the phone to talk through the detailed application process and provide support for the struggles COVID-19 has inflicted, has proven invaluable.
The federal housing stabilization funds that our state received due to the pandemic were much needed, but accessing the funds was complicated. Different programs with different criteria and applications made applying for the funds overwhelming for many of the families that needed the help the most. The silver lining is that we were able to build stronger relationships with residents as their trusted source, helping to navigate the often stressful process.”Margaux Morisseau, Director Community Building & Engagement
Throughout the pandemic, NWBRV’s Resident Services team worked closely with 124 financially struggling families. They focused on high impact prerogatives such as childcare recommendations, health care referrals, resume and job search assistance, and connecting residents to income supports. The need for resident and community support wasn’t lost on one anonymous donor, as NWBRV was recently awarded a $100,000 grant through the RI Foundation to continue to fund this important work.
To say we are grateful for this donation is an understatement. It’s amazing that this individual identified the importance of housing and made such a generous investment during such a trying time.”Meg Rego, Director Resource Development & Communications
While we have known the importance of resident services for many years, this year really highlighted the impact that resident services has, especially in lower-income communities… So far we have helped resident’s receive $124,783 in rental assistance and basic needs support during the pandemic. But we anticipate these numbers to increase. Families are still struggling and our work isn’t done.”
Interested in joining the team? The Accessing Home AmeriCorps program trains 15 new Resident Services coordinator each year.
Applications open in April and the AmeriCorps service year begins in September. Contact Program Manager Joyce Welch for more information.