Supportive Housing

Photo: Zanida Scott, left, appreciates the help of Diane Estevez-Olszewki, her supportive housing case manager.

Zanida Scott is poised to become a homeowner, and she’d be the first to tell you that it wouldn’t be happening without the help of Lutheran Services Carolinas.

Zanida is a client of LSC’s supportive housing program, which provides services to families in public housing through a contract with the Charlotte Housing Authority. LSC provides case management, serving about 250 families at three apartment complexes: Seigle Point, Arbor Glen, and McAden Park, where those accepted to the program are able to have a portion of their housing costs subsidized.

The goal of the program, says Geoffrey Brooks, community engagement coordinator for LSC, is self-sufficiency. That is achieved through counseling that helps participants tackle their goals, which may include going back to school to get a better job or improving their credit scores. “Our case managers meet with families every month, and they plug away at any barriers they may have,” Brooks says.

The goal is for participants to graduate from the program within five years and become self-sufficient and free of any government assistance.

Zanida admits that she had doubts when she first started the program in 2009. Like all participants, she was expected to attend regular one-on-one meetings with a case manager who would delve into her personal situation in order to help her overcome any obstacles that were holding her back. Initially, Zanida resented what felt like an invasion of her privacy.

When she realized that the program had her best interests at heart and could help her achieve her goals, her attitude began to change, she said.

Now she has a job with the American Red Cross and is studying marketing in college. Her lease will expire in January, and because she’s improved her credit score, she has realistic hopes of being approved for a mortgage.

Another single mother grateful to be in the supportive housing program is Tamika Kelly.

Her case manager, Katrina Watson, has been a valuable resource for her. “It’s helpful to have someone who can explain and not be judgmental,” she says.

She began the program with a part-time job at Harris Teeter but with the goal of securing full-time employment. She achieved that goal and has also been able to save some money and move closer to finishing her studies at Central Piedmont Community College to become a medical office administrator.

Tamika is hoping to complete the program in three years, when she hopes to be off government assistance and buying a home of her own. Her 2-year-old son, Amiri, is a great motivator.

“Everything I do is for my son,” she says.

Story by Katie Scarvey, Communications Specialist