Rental Assistance Helps Residents Fill in the Gaps
It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting our communities, changing nearly everything in our daily lives. Amidst many continued challenges, we pause to recognize the impact of neighbors helping neighbors.
Throughout the last year, the CommonBond team—with the help of many generous supporters—raised funds and worked to obtain other types of rental support to ensure CommonBond residents could remain safely housed. At the beginning of 2021, we began distributing these funds across our housing communities to support residents in paying past-due rent. Today, we’re happy to share stories of two CommonBond residents from Granada Lakes Townhomes in Oakdale, MN who recently received these funds.
"Before the pandemic I always had stable employment. I have a strong work ethic and strong work history."
Like so many others, CommonBond resident Chante experienced the quick transition from a place of stability to uncertainty with the onset of the pandemic. “Before the pandemic I always had stable employment. I have a strong work ethic and strong work history,” Chante shared. Just prior to the pandemic, she had started a new position at a national staffing agency. “I was very excited about it [the new job], and there was a lot of room for growth within that opportunity.”
However, simply because she was new to the company, Chante was one of the first employees to be laid off once the pandemic hit. “The layoff hit extremely hard, especially since I am a single mom with two kids; when that happened, it left me kind of stuck.”
On top of adjusting to the new normal of the pandemic and all the stress that comes with that, Chante had to navigate how to support her daughter, a second grader, in distance learning, while caring for her one-year-old son—all while searching for new employment and income supports.
“It’s definitely appreciated and it goes a long way.”
Some relief came when Trenece, the Advantage Services Coordinator at Granada Lakes Townhomes, let her know she qualified to receive CommonBond rental assistance funds. “Trenece ended up reaching out to me; she told me about the program and being able to potentially get [the CommonBond] rental assistance, which was definitely a blessing.” Through her own research, as well as resources that Trenece shared, Chante ended up receiving funds from both CommonBond’s COVID relief funds as well as government rental assistance. “It’s definitely appreciated and it goes a long way.”
Since she comes from a nonprofit background, Chante shared that receiving these funds has another meaning: “This time I’m on the receiving end of the benefits vs. being the one that is providing benefits for other people, so I now understand [and have an appreciation for] both ends of it.”
Chante also spoke about how prior to the pandemic, she was working with NeighborWorks Home Partners—participating in financial advising with the end goal of buying a home. Because of losing her job, she’ll now be back to square one; but though her situation has shifted, she’s determined to continue setting and reaching goals.
"I started crying when Linda told me that I would qualify for CommonBond’s rental assistance—it was a huge relief!"
CommonBond resident Shawntina also felt a relief when Linda, the property manager at Granada Lakes Townhomes, told her she was going to receive rental assistance from CommonBond’s COVID relief fund. When she wasn’t able to make December rent, Shawntina had feared the worst outcome—that she, her significant other, and her two kids would face homelessness. “I’m the kind of person that panics about everything—I was so worried about how I would pay for this. I started crying when Linda told me that I would qualify for CommonBond’s rental assistance—it was a huge relief!”
Shawntina received $1000 in rental assistance to offset past-due rent from December 2020—and it covered a large majority of that rent. This brought her a lot of ease, and left her much more confident that she’d be able to come up with the remaining amount.
Like Chante, Shawntina had been in a stable place prior to the pandemic: “Before COVID, I never had any problems paying rent, but now the pandemic has made it really hard to stay afloat.” At the onset of the pandemic, she and her partner were faced with choosing between working, parenting, and risking their health and that of their kids. Prioritizing their own safety eventually led to Shawntina having to sacrifice a stable job—suffice it to say, the pandemic has had deeply challenging personal impacts on her and her family’s daily life.
“Being able to afford to live in Washington County, where me and my family feel safe, and not feeling like I’m sacrificing quality, is so important."
Despite these very real challenges, Shawntina expresses a lot of gratitude—both for the support of rental assistance, and having continued access to a stable, safe home. “Being able to afford to live in Washington County, where me and my family feel safe, and not feeling like I’m sacrificing quality, is so important—I’m so grateful to CommonBond!”
Certainly, rental assistance cannot instantly fix all the COVID-19-related challenges that residents like Chante and Shawntina continue to face; however, this support has been a critical step toward regaining stability for them and many other families during a continuously difficult time.
Our work to ensure all neighbors can maintain housing stability during—and after—the pandemic has never been more important. We hope you’ll consider a donation to support our mission and CommonBond residents: https://commonbond.org/donate/