Almost Home is helping people experiencing housing instability reach self-sufficiency

July 10, 2024

Pictured above: Jessica Fiedler, Executive Director of Almost Home

When the cost of living in South Dakota started to rise outside of Dawn’s means, she picked up all her belongings and moved her family to Colorado.  

She was looking for more job opportunities and stable housing, but things didn’t go according to plan. 

On her way to Colorado, her car engine malfunctioned and her family of four tested positive for COVID-19. Dawn says it drained their finances.  

“Sometimes things come along and knock you down, but what this program asks of somebody is not much to save your life.”

- Dawn, client of Almost Home

Dawn and her daughters had to stay in an expensive hotel because that’s all that was available and even though she had a job, she had to wait 30 days to get paid. She found herself unable to pay for the hotel. She and her family were almost in a situation where they had nowhere to live.  

“Between all of those things, we were going to be homeless on the streets,” she said.  

Dawn was referred to Almost Home’s Supportive Housing Program through the Adams 12 School District. “It was a really hard point,” said Dawn in tears after sharing that Almost Home paid for six months of housing.  

“It was really hard to find a place because Colorado requires three times the income in order to qualify for a place,” she said. “As a single mother, I couldn’t find a place.” 

Dawn kept applying for housing and Almost Home kept paying her application fees. “They really just didn’t give up on me,” said Dawn.  

Almost Home ultimately reached out to some partners and found a two-bedroom place where Dawn and her daughters live. “I don’t have a lot of people to reach out to,” she said.

Almost Home is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping individuals like Dawn and her daughters who are experiencing housing instability reach self-sufficiency through a variety of programs and services.  

“Depending on where people are, we match the programs and services,” explained Jessica Fiedler, the executive director of Almost Home.  

Almost Home Jessica Fiedler (13)

Almost Home has several programs to address the different aspects of housing insecurity and they serve Adams, Broomfield, and Weld Counties. The Homeless Prevention Program, Supportive Housing Program, Respite Housing, and family emergency shelters. The Supportive Housing Program is the program that helped Dawn find a safe place to live with her family and get back on her feet.  

Almost Home also oversees the Homeless Prevention Program, which provides emergency assistance and short-term case management to households that are at risk of eviction, foreclosure, or at risk of utilities being shut off. On the first of the month, Almost Home opens up a two-hour window and people can apply for rental assistance, mortgage assistance, or utility assistance. 

“We prioritize those who already have a notice for eviction or foreclosure,” said Fiedler. “People can apply for that assistance one time in a calendar year.” 

The Supportive Housing Program provides emergency assistance and ongoing support through case management to help people get or remain housed. “Those case managers work with people on a stability plan, that includes help finding or keeping jobs,” said Fiedler.  

The Respite Housing Program focuses on situational homelessness. It assists individuals or families fleeing domestic violence or those who have lost their home due to a flood or fire.  

Almost Home also runs a seven-family emergency shelter for families with small children. “Those are families working toward self-sufficiency and securing permanent housing,” said Fiedler.  

“Thanks to the support of The Denver Foundation and its donors, Almost Home can continue to expand its services and think of more innovative ways to support and assist people experiencing housing instability. We really want to continue to widen our umbrella.”

- Jessica Fiedler, Executive Director of Almost Home

One of their largest programs is the Severe Weather Activation Program. Almost Home partners with about a dozen hotels and provides vouchers for people experiencing homelessness to find shelter when there are freezing temperatures.  

Fiedler remembers a client who came in through the Severe Weather Activation Program and was incredibly grateful for the help he received. “He was homeless and wanted nothing to do with our services, but over the course of staying in our hotels and developing a relationship, he wanted to know more about the permanent housing programs and how he could get a job,” shared Fiedler. “He is now employed in the community, living on his own, and the other day he showed up on our doorstep with a $1,000 check that he had saved and wanted to give back to Almost Home.”  

Those are the stories that Fiedler says speak to the impact of Almost Home.  

Last year in 2023, Almost Home served a total of 4,712 people throughout their various programs, including 1,300 children. They also provided 18,160 nights of motel shelter during inclement weather, “that’s about triple of what we did last year,” said Fiedler. The total number of assistance they provided through their programs and services in 2023 was more than $4 million.  

“Our family shelter only houses seven families, so there is certainly far more need than we are able to provide. We’d love to expand on transitional housing and house more families in need.” 

The Denver Foundation believes adequate, accessible housing is essential for a community to function. Affordable housing is a value we are proud to invest in. The Denver Foundation and its donors have been funding Almost Home since 1999. 

Photo credit: Armando Geneyro