FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In its continued effort to reduce the city’s homeless population, a local non-profit opened a new home Friday. Vincent Village opened its 33rd rental home in its program that helps families become homeowners.
“I’m just in shock,” said Stephanie Kuhn, a mother of two who moved into the new home with her mother, too. “I’ve been just pinching myself to make sure this is true.”
Kuhn, who got a divorce and lost her home in 2013, has spent the last 15 months at Charis House and the Vincent Village shelter before moving in Friday.
Vincent Village puts families into one of its rental homes and charges families a $150 monthly rent. Families also have to pay monthly utilities. From there, rent goes up $100 each year, with the hopes that the families can buy their own homes after four to six years.
“We’re really looking at breaking down those barriers that prevent people from keeping their homes and makes them return to homelessness,” said Denise Andorfer, the executive director at Vincent Village, who estimated the organization has helped close to 75 families since it opened 25 years ago.
Funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development used to help Vincent Village teach adults how to manage their budgets and get back into the workforce. However, that money was cut almost two years ago.
“That money helped up serve 12 to 14 families,” Andorfer said. “We lost those two years ago because HUD doesn’t believe in helping folks once they’re in a home. They want their top priority to be people paying rent.”
Thanks to thousands of dollars in fundraising, Vincent Village was able to find a way to provide those services to all 33 families who rent a Vincent Village property. The organization has also offered scholarships for adults interested in becoming a CNA, Qualified Medication Aide, or Phlebotomist.
Another family will soon be able to move into another Vincent Village home. Another property is currently being converted into a duplex.