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What you need to know about a first-of-its-kind housing retention program in Fond du Lac

Aerial view of Fond du Lac
Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-21 18:52:00-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — With many Americans currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, nonprofits in Fond du Lac are working on a first-of-its-kind program to keep neighbors in their homes.

It started when the Fond du Lac Salvation Army announced this summer that it would no longer host its warming shelter. The organization then began thinking of how they could help the community instead.

They developed a housing retention programthat works with those facing financial troubles to keep them on their feet.

"Maybe they lost their job and they've gotten into financial crisis due to that… We will work alongside them with other agencies and resources within the community to help make those touch points with them,” Salvation Army Social Services Manager Crystal Champeau said.

They’re teaming up with other local nonprofits to help people with things like budgeting, job searching, domestic abuse counseling, finding childcare, and more.

They modeled the new housing retention program after a similar program in Appleton,. which they say has a 96% success rate of people still having stable housing a year later.

Looking at the numbers, about 10% of people in Fond du Lac live in poverty, which is below the state average of 13%.

But,according to figures from DataUSA, that varies widely depending on where in the county you look.

For example, the median household income in the northeast side of the city is $62,820 annually; but just a few miles away in the center of the city, the median household income is only $28,165 annually.

That many people in poverty can put a strain on the community as a whole.

"People that end up homeless are in and out of different agencies getting help; they're in the hospital getting medically taken care of for what they need,” Champlin said. “There's lots of resources that they're consuming within the community.”

By helping 12 local families keep stable housing, Champlin said this program can save taxpayers about $1.6 million per year.

“It’s about: What can we do to stop the bleeding?” Salvation Army Captain Christina Champlin said.