Sometimes people in the Horizons Program at the Omaha social services agency Together need a little extra help to get back on their feet.
The program houses homeless or near-homeless people with the aim of getting them into stable living situations. Many of the individuals, families and veterans in the program are referred by local homeless shelters or street outreach teams.
That extra help, for at least 60 households in the program, comes from Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity.
Typically the individuals who use Goodfellows funds have encountered an unexpected expense, such as a problem with their car, a medical need or recent unemployment. On a fixed income, bills can add up, pulling the person farther away from financial stability, said Andrew Klinkenborg, Together’s development coordinator. Goodfellows can help relieve the burden by directly paying off a looming rent or utility bill.
Klinkenborg told of one woman in the Horizons program who recently had lost her job. Without the income, she fell behind in rent payments and was evicted, ending up in a local homeless shelter with her two children. A shelter employee referred the mother to Together, which set her up with a caseworker. Using Goodfellows funds, Together helped pay the rent deposit on a new home for the family.
Now that she doesn’t have to worry about stable housing, the woman can focus on finding a full-time job.
LaRita Swinnerton, a Horizons Program caseworker, said Goodfellows funds are needed to help the families that come through Together’s doors.
“So many of the people that we help every day are average people,” she said. “Anyone could find themselves suddenly struggling to pay rent. I know I speak for everyone at Together when we say that we are so thankful for everything Goodfellows does for us.”