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Auberle's Housing Services Innovate and Expand to Meet Community Needs

Five years ago, Housing Services at Auberle consisted of one full-time staff member and two programs serving approximately 20 participants. Director of Housing Services Devon Goetze has since grown the department into a diverse team that skillfully runs nine programs, supports nearly 175 individuals and families at a time, and seeks innovative ways to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of our community.

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Devon has been working in housing for 23 years, and she joined Auberle in 2018. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit just two years into her new role, she began to grow Housing Services more urgently and rapidly than she had ever anticipated. “Homelessness skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic,” Devon said. “Suddenly, the volume of people in need of housing services was greater than ever, and it was critical that this department try to keep as many of those people housed as possible.”

Devon recruited two more staff members to help manage the surge. Then, with the help of the CARES Act, she was able to hire several Auberle employees who’d been displaced due to COVID onto the Housing Services team. “Our team of eight amazing people worked around the clock during that time,” Devon recalled. “From there, we were able to launch a number of new and impactful programs.”

These programs support participants facing a range of housing challenges, including finding stable, safe, and affordable housing; paying back rent; and taking up temporary residence in one of Auberle’s two Family Emergency Shelters. As Devon and her team know well, housing instability impacts people of all backgrounds and life circumstances.

“There are so many ways that people can find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly without a home. Some of our participants have never had housing stability. Some were stable for most of their lives when an event like job loss or the diagnosis of a serious illness led to the depletion of their savings,” Devon explained.

“Most people in our region — and across our country — live paycheck to paycheck,” she continued. “This is largely because the cost of basic needs is constantly rising, while the average person’s income is not. This makes it very hard to build emergency savings. The frightening reality is, the everyday person is one large, unexpected expense away from facing homelessness.”

While emergency housing is an important service Auberle provides, Devon and her team are empowering participants to lay the foundation for long-term housing stability. They ensure each participant is connected with affordable health insurance, has access to all of their vital documents, and has been set up with a personal budget that will help them manage their income and expenses.

“We work with all our participants not only to build a budget, but to provide them with guidance and education on how to successfully manage that budget,” Devon shared. “We accomplish this through a tool called Honest Budget, which ensures there is no judgment based on where they receive their income or how they spend it. Our priority is solely to ensure folks are able to meet all their basic needs, and we’ve had wonderful success in doing just that.”

Devon and her team have helped more than 100 people transition from homelessness to permanent housing so far in this fiscal year — a huge win that, according to Devon, is a testament to a fantastic team. “It’s an honor to work alongside this team,” she said. “We face heartbreaking challenges sometimes, but those moments remind us how important this work is. We learn lessons from the hard days, and we celebrate the good ones. In fact, we have a wall in the office where we post all our successes. It’s the first thing we see when we walk in! We are so proud of the work we do here at Auberle.”

Auberle would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Devon and all the staff in Housing Services for their dedication to making a difference in people’s lives.