Amount Requested: $4,000 for General Operating Support
Mission: To provide affordable housing and supportive services to improve the quality of life for persons with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse issues.
Constituents Served: VACSI serves adults with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and substance abuse issues who are in need of affordable housing in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. Additionally, all of our clients are low-income, most living on $730 to $930 a month. In 2015, VACSI provided affordable housing for 21 individuals. Indirectly, we impact approximately 100 family members and other individuals in the community by alleviating the emotional and financial challenges they would encounter if their loved one is faced with substandard housing or chronic homelessness. Additionally, VACSI rents its Waynesboro seven bedroom facility to the Valley Area Community Services Board (VCSB) for transitional housing.
Program Overview: We consult with the Valley Mission, VCSB and other shelters and care givers on a regular basis to determine housing needs and gaps in available services. Safe and affordable housing that includes utilities is hard to find in our area and even harder for those who are mentally and emotionally challenged and who must live on so little income. VACSI is also able to provide free Dish TV service and free laundry facilities to all its renters. By providing these services and utilities our renters are able to live on their very small fixed income. In addition our apartments are close to their social service providers and to public transportation.
In Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County the population we serve comprizes aproximately 12% of the population, compared to the state average of 8.2%. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 5-Year American Community Survey). The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 82% of rentals in our area have a rent $500 or higher (44% over $750; median rent is $743). These rent brackets are cost prohibitive for this special needs population, especially since rents rarely include utilities. Frequently they are forced to live in unsafe, unsanitary, and generally unhealthy conditions. Some have no home and live with friends or on the street. Based on discussions with the Valley Mission & Valley Community Services Board an average of 300 individuals per year are in need of affordable housing and VACSI focuses our efforts on thoes who are single.
Rent for our one bedroom apartments is $450 – $500 per month, and the efficiencies are $300 – $350. All the apartments are within one block of public transportation and all include utilities (or partial utilities in 10 older units), laundry facilities and Dish TV. If fundraising allows we will reduce rents even further.
VACSI also provides direct assistance to tenants through an emergency relief fund which covers the costs of prescriptions, medical needs, and basic apartment furnishings. This fund also includes money to pay residents for their work around the VACSI properties (landscaping, lawn mowing, snow shoveling, etc.), which helps the tenants financially.
VACSI’s main goal is to add 4 to 10 apartments per year through new construction or renovations of purchased properties. We are researching the possibilities of modular construction for reduced costs. Additional housing is desperately needed for individuals seeking affordable rentals in order that they can leave the Western State Hospital and for those who are at the end of their permitted stays in local shelters.
Current Operating Budget: $229,962