by Jamie Foote
This issue was already existent, but Hurricane Sally and COVID-19 did not help the affordable housing crisis we have here in Baldwin County. Sure, we need workers in the area. Some of the barriers other than housing is transportation and childcare. In fact, many places are hiring, but unless employers are allowing the employee and their family to sleep in their personal home, these people have limited long-term rental options and end up using their paychecks to pay for hotels and driving over from these hotels, causing them to be late for work, stressed and let's face it, not able to give their full attention and give it their all at work due to their situation. Lets make better employees by coming together and solving some of the challenges!
The question here is how do we address the issue, as a community?
Here are some possible solutions:
Baldwin County needs more homes built that is for the workforce. With housing grants available, I wonder if there are any developers who would be interested in investing in more property development that is income restricted. We all know building is expensive right now, so possibly existing commercial property for rent?
If you have jobs available in South Baldwin, possibly employers can offer bus transportation to pick up willing workers from North Baldwin who do not have the resources to make it to work from where they live.
How about becoming a roommate? Are you barely able to make ends meet and have an extra room available that could accommodate a single individual or possibly even a mom and child or dad and child? Are you looking for a place and willing to be a roommate? Which of the property managements in Baldwin County will allow this type of lease agreement?
Another issue is credit and rental requirements. Do you have a skill that would help people with credit repair? Maybe you could help these people become approved by offering these skills.
Do you own a place, but will not rent it out to someone who has a credit score below 600? Is there a way that our agency could work with yours to help reduce that barrier for many households?
Childcare costs! Without being eligible for Childcare South, a parent is working only to pay for childcare costs, which doesn't make much sense. Childcare South and Head Start Programs are limited to only those childcare providers who participate and the spots fill very quickly. I have an entire rant (blog) on childcare issues and possible solutions that we as a community can hopefully conquer this issue.
Many area agencies and businesses continue to work on these issues that affect all of us, either directly or indirectly. We could use more input. If you know of any meetings planned that focus on community solutions for these specific issues, please feel free to add me to your email list to be included in the invitation. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW WE HELP
Family Promise of Baldwin County, Inc (FPBC) is part of the solution. We currently have two transitional housing units that provide families an extended time to work toward long-term goals that lead to long-term rentals and possibly home ownership opportunities. We work with agencies with established programs offering credit counseling and down payment housing assistance, career services, educational services, and nutritional services. We work with Childcare South, providing financial assistance for families initially until the childcare assistance has been approved. We assist with move-in costs for families to move in to rental properties. We help families with rental assistance who are at-risk of becoming evicted. We provide financial literacy, resources for homes and jobs, career coaching, and we have shelter and stabilization programs.
Disclosure: I am a Program Director and provide case management for families with children who are or at-risk of experiencing homelessness. These are my thoughts and ideas based on my personal experience with working directly with the families in our community. This specific article was written in 2021 and updated in 2023. All information seems to still be applicable today.