Celebrating Growth: Foothills Green
Our mission at Archway Communities is simply to elevate lives. The method we have found to be our sweet spot for achieving this is through focusing on providing affordable housing, food security, and access to the supportive social services that people need to thrive. While this approach can have many positive outcomes for our residents, every so often it leads to one that is bittersweet for our staff: residents being able to take the next step in financial well-being by buying a home.
This has been the case recently at Foothills Green, where three different households will be moving out this month due to buying their first homes. We are ecstatic to see this for our residents, as homeownership is a big step towards building wealth and general financial security. But, many of our properties have very low turnover and, as a result, great relationships form with our residents, making it a sad moment to see them leave!
For instance, two of the three households are families with young children who are regulars at kids club with Julie, Supportive Services Coordinator at Foothills Green. They have benefited greatly from various field trips, summer events, and even the back-to-school supplies drive Julie has held for the last three years.
“Kids Club is a great service,” Julie tells me, “It frees up parents to be able to provide for their family through work and essential errands, like grocery shopping. Parents know their kids are not only in good hands but getting great learning experiences through our field trips at no cost to them.”
Lowering child care costs pays great dividends for families looking to save for their own home. For instance, according to the National Retail Federation, the average cost for school supplies is about $140 per child. Based on this average, that would mean that one of our home-buying families, who has 3 kids, is saving about $1,260 just by getting their school supplies from our back-to-school supplies drive for the last three years.
“Do you have a majority of the supplies a student needs for the school year?” I asked Julie. “Oh yeah, our partners are great. Between Salem UCC and A Precious Child, we can provide all of the school supplies for most kids. As you get older, particularly into high school, there are some specialty items we may not have – like graphing paper or graphing calculators. But we have all of the basics for school supplies.”
The diligent work our Supportive Services Coordinators put in for our residents to receive ERAP has been another vital source of help. The COVID-19 pandemic affected many households, lowering income drastically for an extended period of time.. To have the chance to eliminate portions or all of rent arrears allows our residents to focus reestablished income sources towards the future – buying a home – instead of catching up on past collections.
“For many of our residents, including those who were able to purchase homes, the rental assistance, food banks, and kids club were regular services,” Julie shares.
It is a beautiful full circle moment to celebrate these big steps. It is hard to measure certain outcomes in formal stats. Exactly how much money does food bank save a family? How much stress is reduced when ERAP assistance comes through, and how does that stress reduction benefit someone? How much more time does a parent have to work when their children attend kids club regularly; and how much more income does that bring in? While these are all great questions, the answers can be elusive to pin down.
But it is difficult to deny the over-time benefits and outcomes when we see three move outs in one month due to our residents being able to purchase their own homes. Our holistic approach to elevating lives and serving our residents acts as a complex organism – where each function directly and indirectly affects others, all interacting to affect the whole.
When you zoom out far enough, you can see macro changes like home-buying evolve, but when you zoom in, you see beautiful interactions like a Supportive Services Coordinator staying late to help a family with rental assistance; a property manager driving a golf-cart-transformed-to-ice-cream-truck around the community handing out free ice cream; a child’s beaming smile from receiving a new backpack for school. All of these interactions affect the whole, and we celebrate as a whole when we come across moments like this!