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HUD announces funding to support economic independence for low-income families

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allocate $44 million to support programs that help people living in public housing or receiving rental assistance move toward economic independence.

Acting HUD Secretary Adrianna Todman announced the funding at the Westwood Opportunity Center in Denver  Friday. The Denver Housing Authority’s family self-sufficiency program supports residents for up to five years and has helped about 400 families purchase homes, pay for higher education, and grow their savings.

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Through these so-called Family Self Sufficiency and Resident Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency programs, families work with case managers who provide counseling and refer them to resources that will help them save money, pay off debt and increase credit scores.

“We’re trying to make sure that first-generation homeowners, people whose parents or grandparents probably never had a house, are able to receive that American dream,” Todman said. “Nothing makes it feel better than being here with you in Denver today to help people realize those dreams, but also help the leadership help people along the way.”

Todman praised the Denver Housing Authority for its “extraordinary work” helping families not only access affordable housing, but save money that can help them meet their future goals. She said at the start of the Biden administration, there were about 600 programs that supported self-sufficiency across the country, and now there are closer to 1,000.

“One of the things that this administration believes in is making sure that every other city like Denver has a program like that,” Todman said.

Todman also announced that three DHA-supported resident councils across Denver will receive $800,000 to support residents in their communities, part of $39 million going to local housing leadership teams around the country. The local funding will support efforts to connect residents in those communities to health care, job opportunities, financial education and more.

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“We truly believe that any affordable housing crisis should be defined by the challenging conditions that people, families in the U.S. are facing,” Denver Housing Authority CEO Joaquín Cintrón Vega said, “and therefore the solution to the crisis should be focused on improving those conditions.”

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said the city has prioritized getting people experiencing homelessness into transitional housing and then permanent housing, but said “housing first as a strategy doesn’t mean housing only as a strategy.”

“Once folks arrive to housing, they will need the wraparound supports to be successful, and particularly the wraparound supports that set themselves up to be independent long-term,” Johnston said. “Because we know their goal and our goal is for them to get into housing where they can pay their entire rent on their own.”

Luiza Kishkinov participated in DHA’s Family Self Sufficiency program for five years and saved up enough money to purchase a three-bedroom house for her and her three children. Her family has lived in their new home for about a month, she said.

“Through my time at DHA, I was able to set goals that eventually brought me to this position of homeownership,” Kishkinov said. “I’ve been wanting to be a homeowner as most of you have wanted to be, and I got that opportunity.”

U.S. Representative Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, said the HUD funding will help support the most vulnerable members of communities she said are “often forgotten” when talking about housing.

“It takes a long period of commitment at every level to make sure that we can have affordable housing for every Denverite, every Coloradan and every American, and so that’s what this announcement today is,” DeGette said.

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