What does housing insecurity mean? To be housing insecure can span from true homelessness through a broad spectrum of housing issues and risk factors including frequent moves, poor quality housing, crowded living space, or inability to afford rent or utilities.
We knew there was a housing insecurity issue in Lea County, but we did not know the extent of the issue. The JF Maddox Foundation worked with the Lea County Housing Insecurity Workgroup, a multiple agency effort consisting of social service, municipal, and legal organizations, to collect data over a 12-month period. This kind of data had never been tracked before in Lea County.
Over the span of a year, there were 773 people who sought assistance for housing insecurity. Most of our local housing insecure were families that included small children, but pregnant women and single men were also included in our local housing insecure community. No population is immune to housing insecurity. Most of the population were looking for or recently lost their jobs. Everyone received some form of assistance including counseling, financial education, and case management.
Why is this a big deal? Never before have we had such a clear picture of what the homeless and housing insecure populations looked like in Lea County. Now that we know, we can get to work on providing solutions! This new information can also be presented to potential funding sources that can provide critical capital in Lea County for housing assistance.
We do not know what the answers will be, but there seems to be a significant need for transitional housing (temporary housing that connects people to long-term solutions) as well as rent and utility assistance. Rest assured that the Housing Insecurity Workgroup, is working hard to drive toward resolutions that will care for and protect our neighbors in need of housing security. We are proud to work with this group to make strides towards improvements in the lives of our neighbors when they find themselves most in need.