Our Neighbors Made Huge Strides in 2020

Many people couldn’t wait to turn the calendar from 2020 to 2021, and wanted to say, “2020 got the best of us. Good riddance.” I’d like to share some news that shows the power of our neighbors to make huge strides in 2020 and made 2020 their best year yet.

2020 was the best year yet for four families living at Hawthorne Place Apartments, and CSL helped those families save significant money to move on from subsidized housing and on to homeownership in 2020. That’s a huge win!

Here’s the story of one of those families. Luis and Jennifer came to Independence and Hawthorne Place in February 2018 after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home in Puerto Rico. They had nothing, except their two kids and each other. CSL, in partnership with the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the owner-operator of Hawthorne Place, were part of a national effort to house Puerto Ricans stateside.

Luis, Jennifer and their family pose with their CSL support team – Jeff Sheets, Libet Ojeda and Brianna Powers outside their new home.

Hawthorne Place is one the largest federally subsidized communities in the country with more than 2,400 people living in 750 apartments and townhomes. In 2017, CSL began offering a wide array of services at Hawthorne Place that help low-income families remain stably housed and find a pathway out of poverty. Your support funds those services.

Luis began working right away, but his car broke down and he lost his job. CSL connected Luis to a local church that helped him get a new car so that he was able to find a new job and support his family.

Because Luis and Jennifer set the goal of homeownership, one of the programs that they took advantage of was the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FSS, administered at Hawthorne Place by CSL, is an innovative wealth- and asset-building program where families can escrow earned income into a savings fund. They can use their savings to put a down payment on a home, for credit repair, or to continue their education. Luis and Jennifer began saving for a home immediately.

They also worked with CSL staff to apply for other income supports they needed to survive and care for their children. Those supports, like SNAP and Medicaid, helped them maintain their household, while CSL financial coaches helped them repair and build their credit.

Luis and Jennifer saved $10,025 through the FSS program and achieved their goal of homeownership in late 2020, moving into a home in Independence last October – just two and a half years after they moved into Hawthorne Place. Luis has been at the same job for three years, and they still drive the car that the church gave them. Theirs is a CSL success story in 2020’s win column. Their success illustrates how coaching and connections to resources pave the way for families to lift themselves out of poverty and onto making life better.

We believe, because of you, there was still plenty of good news in 2020. The empathy and compassion you showed for neighbors who were suddenly unemployed, at risk of losing their homes, and unable to feed their families was unprecedented. From the minute the pandemic began, the CSL family seized every opportunity they could to make life better for people desperately in need.

Here’s what triumphed in 2020, thanks to the 1498 people who supported CSL with their time, their talent, and their treasure.

  • In 2020, CSL provided 4,000,000 meals, feeding roughly 16,000 people per month from March 23 until the close of the year. That’s a big mark in YOUR win column. We could not have done it without your gifts to CSL at the onset of the shutdown. Those gifts kept the food trucks coming and CSL’s warehouse team hustling to distribute it in drive through food distributions. That’s a win!

  • The shutdown, literally overnight, left low-income workers unemployed. Unprecedented numbers of people already living paycheck to paycheck, lost their jobs. Many turned, for the first time in their lives, to CSL for help. Your support kept their families stably housed and kept CSL employment coaches, financial coaches, housing counselors, and family stability specialists in the field every day, connecting people to resources that helped them navigate their new normal. That’s a win!

  • Despite the pandemic, CSL engaged and coached more than 500 participants in our New Skills training initiative. All applicants got employment support, and eighty-one people entered a tuition-free training program. As of right now, 63 (80%) have graduated and have since entered the workforce in jobs with benefits and the opportunity to advance and earn even more. That’s a win!

You never stopped making life better for people in need. Your caring, your compassion and your gifts made a difference in 2020 and will continue to make a difference for people who continue to struggle in 2021 because of the pandemic.

I am asking you to stand with CSL in 2021, as we continue to feed thousands of people every month, work with hundreds of families to help them remain in their homes and connect individuals to training that leads to better paying jobs.

Make your gift to CSL today, and you will give our neighbors the help they need today and hope for a better tomorrow. For more information, contact Chief Development Officer Cindy Isabel at (816) 491-2011 with questions or make an online donation here.

Warm regards,

Doug Cowan

President & CEO

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