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Long-term residents of Chaffee County, the Smith family found themselves unhoused and financially insecure in August of 2022 (names changed for privacy reasons). Even though both parents were working to support their two young children, the Smith’s circumstances changed dramatically after their landlord doubled their rent.

This article shares the housing journey of the Smiths in order to shed light on the work of the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA). Founded in late 2020, CHA’s mission is to deliver housing units and stability through partner-driven development, education and advocacy, and impactful programming. 

A caseworker from the Salida Early Childhood Center where one of the Smith children attended referred the family to Chaffee County’s Continuum of Care (CoC), started by the CHA in 2022.

The Continuum of Care is funded through a grant jointly awarded to the CHA and Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH). The Continuum of Care is a group of partner organizations in the County that collaboratively provide services and housing resources to meet the specific needs of people who are homeless or experiencing housing insecurity.  
Example partner organizations providing services in tandem with the CHA include The Alliance, Chaffee Hospitality, CCPH, and the Chaffee County Department of Human Services, among many others. Over the past year and a half, the CoC has provided services to 99 individuals and families, 61 of which have been homeless and 38 of which have experienced housing insecurity.

CHA let the caseworker know about the Salida Open Door Program which provides transitional workforce housing in RVs for families until they can find more permanent and adequate housing. Within a couple of weeks, an RV became available to safely house the Smiths through the winter months.

The City of Salida Open Doors Program has successfully housed 13 tenants since its inception in July of 2022. 

Meanwhile, CHA and the Smiths worked together to locate an available long-term rental, a two-bedroom apartment. Using CHA’s Rental Deposit Guarantee Program, CHA was also able to assist the Smith family with a zero-interest security deposit loan.

The Rental Deposit Guarantee Program exists to support renters who struggle to come up with first and last month’s rent and a security deposit all at once to be eligible to rent an apartment, which can be a barrier to renting.  
CHA guarantees that the security deposit will be paid to the landlord before the term of the lease is up and the tenant makes payments on the loan for the security deposit over time.  
Over the past two years, CHA has supported 33 tenants with their security deposits. 

Having leveraged the Continuum of Care, the Salida Open Doors Program, and the Rental Deposit Guarantee Program, the Smith family has since repaid their deposit guarantee loan and stabilized their finances. Thankfully, the Smith family also has a safe and secure home.

Over the past two years, CHA staff have responded to 1,062 citizen phone calls, many of which are individuals like the Smiths, experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. CHA meets community members where they are in their housing journey and connects them with resources relevant to their unique situations.

Featured image: The Chaffee Housing Authority staff and board members working this week in a hybrid meeting. Photo courtesy of CHA.