Beyond Housing is among 40 area organizations that will share in the $1 million in funding announced last week by the Waterloo Region Community Foundation (WRCF).
The Elmira-based organization will receive a $30,000 grant.
“We have several different funds around the grants that we give out. The one that just took place was the biggest round we have, which is called our community grants.… This year, it was really focused on initiatives like affordable housing,” said Eric Avner, president and CEO of WRCF.
The grant to Beyond Housing will allow for a one-year continuation of their community health nurse that provides support for the organization’s tenants. That will help the non-profit to go ‘beyond the minimum of providing affordable housing,” said executive director Dan Driedger.
This, in turn, helps take pressure off the healthcare system, he added.
“If we have people that are able to deal with some issues, either proactively or preventively by working with community nurse, then, maybe they’re either less likely to go to the emergency room or they might actually go to the emergency room when they need to, as opposed to waiting until it’s too late,” he added.
According to Avner, funds for grants come from permanent endowments as well as around 400 community donors that have different priorities areas to which they donate.
“We have a committee that’s made up of community volunteers that make all of the decisions on all the funding, so we’re able to be helpful to that but ultimately, decisions come from the community as well,” he explained.
The grant to Beyond Housing came from a combination of the WRCF and donation from the Schneider Employees Association Community Fund.
The money is critical for Beyond Housing, said Driedger of the ability to keep funding in place for the nurse.
“That position typically has not in the past been part of our general operating budget. Because our model is the tenant rent needs to cover our operating costs, and we only fundraise for new capital projects, we rely on that grant in order to continue to fund this role. So there’s a direct relationship between that grant and the ongoing support that we can provide for this community health nurse,” he said.
The grant comes on the heels of Beyond Housing’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The Out-Spok’n Bike-a-Thon, which raised more than $82,000, exceeding the goal of $75,000.
“There were quite a number of people that maybe had forgotten or didn’t know about it, or whatnot, prior to the event, but we still received donations last week to support that event. We were very thankful to be able to exceed [the goal],” Driedger said.
The non-profit is still on track to finish construction on its Sprucelawn Apartments in St. Jacobs in early September and is currently reviewing tenant applications.
“We know that there’s going to be some disappointment, certainly because affordable housing is desperately needed by many people….but we also recognize that for the 28 households that will be able to call it home, it will make a tremendous difference for their lives,” added Driedger.