When a 2021 assessment of housing availability in Omaha found that many families continued to need safe, stable housing – a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium (MOEC) broadened its work to prioritize housing stability through various initiatives done with a diverse team of community partners. Philanthropic organizations, research centers and housing organizations have spearheaded programs like Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, Front Porch Investments, Progressive Families, Omaha Urban Thinkscapes and more, responding to housing crises with a strategic and creative framework that seeks to:
Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH)
MACCH is a collective impact homeless services organization that, throughout the pandemic, has played a pivotal role in combating homelessness and housing insecurity throughout Metro Omaha. Through its Household Problem Solving (HPS) initiative, MACCH distributed more than $6.3 million through 5,007 fund requests to 4,419 unique households, with an average of $1,409 per request. The vast majority of these households were on the brink of homelessness, with many facing housing crises caused by the effects of the COVID-19. This program delivered essential support that enabled countless children to remain in their home schools and avoid the turmoil and stress of relocation or loss of housing.
Front Porch Investments
Along with HPS, Front Porch Investments (FPI) assisted in preventing homelessness for 278 individuals in Metro Omaha. Developed in response to the demand for strategic investment and coordinated leadership in the areas of affordable housing and homelessness prevention, FPI seeks to “create opportunities to implement successful housing solutions by maximizing public and private resources, convening community partners, new stakeholders, and historically excluded voices.” With housing assessment grants to be awarded in May 2022, this philanthropy presents exciting and innovative strategic partnerships across the metro area.
The Progressive Families program complements the work of these initiatives in its holistic approach to housing crises and their wide-reaching effects. Families receive housing education; utility, rent and mortgage assistance; tax assistance; private financial literacy education; and Individual Development matched Savings Accounts (IDAs) that support families’ efforts to save for education, homeownership and micro-business enterprise. Made possible through the support of United Way and the Siemer’s Institute, this initiative has supported over 120 families. Beyond this program, United Way investments continue to benefit families and children in the metro area, with 89% of school-aged children served through UWM investments remaining in their schools of origin by choice.