This post is excerpted from The Pantagraph and can be found in it’s entirety here.
The council approved funding for a housing stability navigator at Mid Central Community Action with the use of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
The housing stability navigator would guide individuals and families looking for housing assistance programs, which could include funds toward mortgage down payments and rent, housing rehabilitation, Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility modifications and more.
According to town documents, some of the housing stability navigator duties include creating databases that would be shared among partnering agencies, coordinating housing coalition activities, working with landlords to establish affordable rental units, and identifying additional grant opportunities.
“We have a huge problem with affordable housing in our community and this is to help people find that and go through the process that they have to go through,” said Executive Director of Mid Central Community Action Tami Foley after the meeting.
Foley said they have been working with other local organizations and municipalities to create this position and have been working with someone for close to a year that will be offered this position when it is announced in early July.
Mid Central Community Action already does some of this work but because of the increase in rent and need for affordable housing, they needed someone whose sole focus is on helping and finding housing for those in need, Foley said.
“We wanted to make sure that we had somebody that had the knowledge and could have their sole focus on working with other nonprofits in the area, other community members and with landlords to ensure that people who are struggling to maintain permanent stable housing will be able to get that housing and maintain it,” Foley said.
Reese said the housing stability navigator would be an employee of and housed at Mid-Central Community Action for two years and the costs of the position would be shared by both Normal and Bloomington, with the town paying a total of $55,000 and the city paying $71,000.
“We have not gone beyond any conversations except for ARPA funding for these two years, for this current and next year,” Reese said. “If the position is proving to be as valuable as the community needs, then I’m certain Mid Central Community Action will talk to all the stakeholders and work out a plan on how to fund it in the future.”
Smith said the role is a critical need at all income levels and could provide that support needed to navigate the housing market.
“It can be very complicated to try to navigate when something comes on market and it so quickly disappears before someone can sign a lease and make a valid housing decision,” Smith said. “I’m fully supporting this.”
To date, the town has used ARPA funds for many projects and initiatives, including support for a mobile health clinic, investment in public infrastructure, and a grant program for small businesses, according to council documents.
Trustee Chemberly Harris recused herself from the vote because she sits on Mid Central Community Action’s board of directors.
Mid Central Community Action is a community action agency who’s mission is to educate, equip, and empower people to achieve healthy relationships, finances, homes, and neighborhoods. Learn more about MCCA on there website: https://mccainc.org/