North FEASST Initiative Eases Path to Affordable Housing for Vulnerable Families

Hands Together

The North FEASST group, in collaboration with member CAPTAIN Community Human Services’ (CHS) Family Assistance Program, has taken decisive action to tackle the pressing issue of affordable housing in Saratoga County. Through concerted efforts with individuals and families, the formidable obstacle of security deposit affordability has been overcome, enabling dozens to secure their own apartments. 

“Back in October 2023, we learned that a local affordable housing project had completed renovations on dozens of units,” shared Andy Gilpin, CAPTAIN CHS Executive Director. “Coincidentally, we recognized a significant number of individuals on the wait list for this project were those experiencing true homelessness – many living in a shelter, in vehicles, and even on the street. With a subsidized rent program already in place, the remaining issue for many was affording the security deposit and we could not miss this unique opportunity to combat local the housing crisis and provide a brighter future for many residents.” 

Despite the existence of a subsidized rent program to reduce the burden of monthly payments, the requirement of full security deposits for each unit posed a significant challenge, particularly for individuals grappling with poverty and homelessness. While some new tenants managed to cover these costs through personal means or existing assistance programs, many others found themselves in desperate need of support to secure stable housing. 

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, security deposits can be one of the largest barriers to accessing affordable housing. Individuals who are homeless face serious challenges obtaining employment, accessing services, and saving for up-front housing expenses such as security and move-in costs. 

“The North FEASST group, comprising faith-based and agency-based members committed to addressing homelessness, really stepped it up and rallied together,” continued Gilpin. “Recognizing the imperative of providing housing for vulnerable individuals, the group embarked on a determined quest for funding to meet the substantial $29,000.00 required for security deposits.” 

North FEASST, formed in 2020 following discussions on homelessness in Saratoga Springs, comprises a coalition of organizations including CAPTAIN CHS, Pine Grove Community Church, The Salvation Army of Saratoga, Catholic Charities of Saratoga/Warren/Washington Counties, Presbyterian-United Church of Christ, First Baptist Church of Saratoga, Franklin Community Center, Bethesda Episcopal Church, Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, Rebuilding Together Saratoga, RISE (formerly TSA), Saratoga Abundant Life Church, Temple Sinai, and St. Clement’s Church. Additional support was provided by Habitat for Humanity Saratoga and the Saratoga Continuum of Care group. 

Through a coordinated effort, North FEASST members pooled resources and pledged financial support for each individual case, ensuring that the necessary assistance was provided to those in need. CAPTAIN CHS facilitated the client intake process, liaised with the landlord, and managed all required paperwork, streamlining the assistance process. Thanks to the collective efforts of the North FEASST group and the cooperation of the landlord housing office, all new tenants were successfully accommodated by December 12, 2023. 

“We were so happy to hear from CAPTAIN that so many clients were now in housing and had a safe place to live. It has been a pleasure being a part of such a worthy endeavor,” shared Dawn Miczek, Outreach Coordinator at St. Clement’s Church. 

Ultimately, 31 units were assisted by this collaborative effort, and an additional five received support through CAPTAIN CHS’ Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP). 

“This achievement underscores the transformative power of community collaboration,” added Gilpin. “By joining forces, this coalition of dedicated agencies has demonstrated that together, we can achieve what no single entity could accomplish alone. Through shared resources, expertise, and unwavering commitment, this group has not only provided homes but also instilled hope and stability in the lives of those in need.”