If you think that over 200 volunteers are enough, think again. That’s how many people serve on Sioux Falls Thrive’s action teams and its Kid Link Riverside initiative.

But, the task team that developed a Housing Screening Tool will need a few more volunteers come the new year.

“We had a real breakthrough this fall,” says Candy Hanson, Thrive’s president. “A task team came up with a way to make it easier for families looking for affordable housing to get a quick, reliable connection to agencies that can help.”

Here’s how it works

There are lots of agencies willing to help, but currently there is no quick way for a family to make a good housing connection. Watch the video to learn more about the Housing Screening Tool that volunteers will begin testing in early 2021.
The 2016 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment conducted by Augustana Research Institute for Thrive depicts the local housing referral system as a tangled mass of government and nonprofit entities.

Since the study was completed, the Housing Action Team has made several runs at untangling a system that looks like a plate of spaghetti.

Untangling the plate of spaghetti

Early on, the Coordinated Entry System mandated by HUD looked promising. But CES serves only the truly homeless.

Most renters looking for housing aren’t homeless. A scheme to solve the problem using software — with a database of every available rental unit in the local market — proved cost prohibitive.

A third attempt to streamline the system by creating a single point of entry for housing searches didn’t pan out either. That task team realized that there are already eight or nine agencies equipped to make good referrals.

Reducing to one would create a backlog of demand destined to fall on the shoulders of the city’s new Housing Clinic and the Housing Navigator position funded by both city and county. It was time to take a fourth shot at untangling the plate of spaghetti.

This fall’s Housing Screening Tool Task Team, Anny Libengood, Gaylene Riedemann, and Diane Hovdestad, with support from Betsy Schuster and Tammy Denning, came up with a unique solution:

develop a tool that virtually anyone in the community could use to make an appropriate housing referral

“Thrive is ready to beta test the Housing Screening Tool,” Hanson says. “We’ll need volunteers, especially folks already answering calls for housing assistance, to tweak the tool. And we’ll need several more to develop a work-around for families who can’t find a new home based on a first referral.”

Hanson expects beta testing to begin in January and that the secondary referral system will be ready by spring.

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