[Hpn] Second Chance opens door for troubled renters;Eugene, Oregon;10/27/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Sun, 28 Oct 2001 09:09:18 -0500


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-------Forwarded article-------

Saturday, October 27, 2001
The Register-Guard <http://www.registerguard.com>
[Eugene, Oregon]
Local News section
Second Chance opens door for troubled renters
<http://www.registerguard.com/news/20011027/1b.cr.unitedway.1027.html>

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about the United Way of 
Lane County, and the programs it funds, during its annual charity drive.

--[Photo caption]
Cari Hansen and her 2-year-old daughter, Aliyssa, begin preparing dinner 
Tuesday evening in their kitchen. Hansen is participating in United Way's 
Second Chance Renter Rehabilitation Program operated by the St. Vincent de 
Paul Society of Lane County.

Photo: MATT ANDERSON / The Register-Guard
--[End of photo caption]

By JIM BOYD
The Register-Guard

The Second Chance Renter Rehabilitation Program helps people such as Cari 
Hansen, a 25-year-old former drug addict, get housing.

Second Chance is an eight-week educational program founded and directed by 
Tina Eoff, who once was homeless herself. Taught by Eoff and a group of 
volunteers, Second Chance helps people with poor rental and credit histories 
learn their rights and responsibilities as renters.

The classes cover such things as how to present yourself to a landlord, 
landlord-tenant laws, fair housing laws, understanding the lease, credit 
repair, financial planning, budgeting, conflict resolution, improving 
self-esteem, overcoming adversity, energy conservation, food budgeting and 
food box cuisine, and how to get involved in making public policy.

Graduates receive a certificate backed by a guarantee to a landlord that 
Second Chance will pay up to $600 if the graduate should leave owing money 
or causing damage within the first six months of occupancy.

The program is operated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County 
and partly funded by United Way of Lane County.

Hansen's addiction to methamphetamine ruined her housing record at the same 
time it almost ruined her life.

Never married, Hansen is the mother of two children and is expecting a 
third. The father of her first daughter is married now and has primary 
custody of the child. The father of her second daughter is in jail, she 
said, and the whereabouts of the unborn child's father is unknown.

"I pray to God every day that I can make it," Hansen said, "and I know that 
God wouldn't have given me another child if He didn't think I could do it."

A Springfield school dropout at an early age, Hansen graduated from the Job 
Corps in 1994 and moved back to Springfield, where, she said, she became 
addicted about eight months after her first child was born.

"I was living in Springfield out on 54th Street, not hanging out with the 
best people, not allowing the best people around," she said. "I didn't know 
any other way out. And then I moved to Fifth Street in Springfield, and I 
was really deep into my addiction and I really had some bad, bad people 
around me that threatened me and my kids, and just made me really scared and 
I didn't know what to do. And we got raided and my kids got taken away, and 
that was the best thing that ever happened to me. ... It saved my kids. It 
saved me."

Having her children taken into state custody put her into deep depression 
and, she said, she continued to use drugs for a few months. However, 
Hansen's caseworker persuaded her to seek drug treatment if she was to get 
her children back. Hansen went into residential treatment for three months, 
moved back in with a boyfriend but decided that wasn't working out, and then 
moved to a recovery house.

She stayed for two weeks and heard there was a spot open at the Murnane 
Mutual Home, where she could be reunited with her baby. Mutual Home is a 
residential facility for families undergoing outpatient drug treatment. It's 
operated by Catholic Community Services of Lane County, another United Way 
agency.

During her six months at Mutual Home, Hansen learned about Second Chance and 
had her caseworker at Oregon Adult and Family Services refer her to the 
program. AFS has a contract to pay Second Chance a fee for each referral who 
completes the eight-week course.

Hansen completed the course, and she and a roommate from treatment were 
accepted for a three-bedroom rent-subsidized unit at an apartment complex in 
northeast Eugene. Their apartment sharing lasted only from April to July, 
when Hansen moved in with her pastor to await the availability of a 
two-bedroom apartment in the same complex.

"I had to reapply like I was a new renter there," Hansen said. Ironically, 
this time the apartment management turned her down despite the Second Chance 
guarantee and a packet of endorsement letters. "They said they had done some 
checking into my apartment history and it wasn't so good."

Hansen then consulted Eoff.

"She told me to write them a letter saying what I've done to change my life 
- everything I've worked so hard on - and let them know that I planned to 
keep their unit clean and pay my rent on time," Hansen said. "Two days later 
they called and said I was approved."

St. Vincent de Paul not only helped Hansen get an apartment, it has provided 
her a job as a clerk at one of its thrift stores. She hopes eventually to 
take classes at Lane Community College and perhaps become a counselor for 
those suffering from drug or alcohol abuse.

Eoff, the director of the Second Chance program, knows firsthand the 
difficulties her clients face. She was divorced, not getting child support 
checks regularly and finding it difficult to pay the rent in 1992. She 
wanted to move into low-rent housing and discovered that homeless people got 
a higher priority that those with housing.

"So I went homeless on my own," Eoff said. "I gave a 30-day notice to my 
landlord and moved out to Armitage Park with my two children and spent the 
summer there."

She got placed in subsidized housing just before community college classes 
started that fall. She went back to school and did an internship at Clergy 
and Laity Concerned, where she came up with the idea for Second Chance and 
CALC's Marion Malcolm helped her get a grant from United Way to start the 
program.

Today, United Way's Community Solutions Fund provides $13,357 or 20 percent 
of the Second Chance program's $66,030 annual budget. The program's other 
revenue sources are the class fees paid by AFS (and some individuals) and 
private contributions.

The Second Chance budget runs in the red each year, with St. Vincent de Paul 
making up the deficit from its thrift store and other revenues. The 
projected deficit this fiscal year is $34,490, and Anne Williams, the St. 
Vincent de Paul housing programs director, is scrambling to find ways to 
balance the budget.

A $25,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Foundation will be used to develop a 
marketing program that will encourage caseworkers to refer more clients to 
Second Chance. The grant also will be used to develop procedures for 
retaining potential drop-outs, because Second Chance gets paid only for 
those who complete the course. The program's drop-out rate is significant, 
with about 160 graduates out of the 350 who enroll every year.

United Way funding is critical to Second Chance because it helps pay the 
salaries of the program director and program coordinator, Williams said.

"Literally, without the United Way money there would be no way that St. 
Vincent de Paul could carry the program," Williams said.


Fund Drive Report

Donations to United Way of Lane County's campaign have reached $841,579 or 
17.5 percent of the goal to raise $4.8 million for local human services. 
Campaign volunteers have identified 87 new givers this week for a total of 
236, or 8 percent of the way to the goal of 3,000 new donors.

Employees from Kingsford Manufacturing Co. gave the largest employee gift 
this week with a donation totaling $15,488, a 17 percent increase over last 
year. Employees at Luvaas, Cobb, Richards & Fraser PC gave $11,060, up 42 
percent; Clear Lake Elementary School employees gave $3,380, a 65 percent 
increase; Shopko-Bailey Hill employees gave $2,233, up 28 percent; Cascade 
Middle School employees gave $1,900, up 45 percent; Womenspace employees 
gave $1,889, up 24 percent; and Carter & Carter Financial Inc. employees 
gave $1,795, up 26 percent.

In addition, EcoSort LLC employees gave a new gift of $1,313 this year; 
Shasta Middle School employees gave $2,105; and McFarland Cascade employees 
gave $1,030.

U.S. Bank topped the list of corporate gifts this week with its $39,270, up 
2 percent over last year. Kingsford Manufacturing Co. gave $12,511, up 140 
percent; and Lane Electric Cooperative matched their employees' gift with 
$9,077, up 5 percent.

New corporate gifts came from A & K Development with a gift of $1,000; and 
Giustina Land & Timber with a gift of $500.

Individuals giving through the mail contributed $46,419 this week.


HOW TO GIVE


Volunteer or donate by contacting 741-6000 or at www.unitedwaylane.org

Donate by payroll deduction

Donate by check made out to United Way of Lane County, 3171 Gateway Loop, 
Springfield, OR 97477

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA



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