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At Home with Success

In 30 years, 13,000 people housed

“So many people come to us so broken,” Precious Stargell Cushman says of the homeless families she sees at Community LINC, a Kansas City agency.

But her next thoughts are ones of success. Teenesha found herself homeless with two children under the age of two and now has her own apartment. Elaine was living in a truck with her husband and kids and now has an apartment and a job.

And there’s Monique, a mother of two boys, who’d lost her job, her home, and her dental care before she found Community LINC. “She baked her own teeth,” Cushman recalls. “She was using the Wi-Fi outside of Lowe’s, applying for jobs, sending out her résumé.” When she landed an interview with an IT company, Monique bought Play-Doh, replaced her front teeth with fake ones, and got the job.

Success stories abound at Community LINC. In a region where fair market rent is double the minimum wage, 89 percent of the organization’s clients are still housed five years after graduating the program. Why? The program combines rapid rehousing with 12 months of intensive aftercare, an approach that recognizes nascent resilience and cultivates it. Plus, says Cushman, who serves as chief executive officer, ”We have an incredible staff.”

Now, with help from the McGowan Fund, Community LINC has launched a new effort focused on families facing multiple barriers to housing. Among the barriers: chronic substance abuse, multiple evictions, and a history of domestic violence—all red flags for prospective landlords, notes Director of Fund Development Teresa McClain. In the Next Step program, families undergo a thorough assessment and live on Community LINC’s campus for 30 days before being rehoused. Case management continues for 12 months.

Expectations are high. In the last 30 years, Community LINC has improved the lives of 13,000 people.

One of those successes is particularly visible. He’s running for mayor this year.

This 2018 grant: $50,000.