The Grand Junction Housing Authority (GJHA) has been bettering the lives of Mesa County residents though affordable housing assistance and since 1974. After seeing a need to provide more affordable housing in the area, the city council established the Housing Authority. Their first project, Walnut Park Apartments, was complete just three years after program started. The project resulted in 78 affordable apartments specifically for elderly and disabled. Now in their 40th year, The Housing Authority now manages 520 affordable apartments, distributes 1,105 Housing Choice Vouchers, awards 165 Veteran Housing Vouchers, helped 205 homeless families find housing, and helped 228 families avoid foreclosure.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, supported by HUD, is the largest program within GJHA. It is the federal government's major program for assisting those with very low-income or disabilities to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. It is said that in order for housing to be considered affordable, rent and utilities should not total more than 30% of a household’s gross monthly income. Many people earning wages at or near the minimum wage cannot afford the average cost of a one bedroom apartment in Grand Junction which is $630 a month. This is where the Housing Choice Voucher Programs comes into play. People with vouchers pay 30% of their monthly gross income towards their rent and the voucher program directly pays their landlord the remainder of the rent. This way, renters are not ‘rent burdened’ and can live in decent housing.
GJHA has constructed 4 separate communities with a total of 276 apartments. These communities are funded by tax credits that make the housing more affordable to construct, and in turn, makes rent lower for the tenants. The communities that GJHA have constructed are the Arbor Vista Apartments, Crystal Brook Townhomes, Linden Pointe Apartments, and Village Park Apartments. The goal of the tax credit housing is to the bridge the gap in the rental market for those with low paying jobs. It is important to note that all tenants meet certain income guidelines.
Helping the Homeless
With the largest homeless prevention programs in Grand Junction, the GJHA provides 135 vouchers for homeless families referred by Mesa County DHS, 35 vouchers for homeless survivors of domestic violence, 60 vouchers for the chronically mentally ill and 35 transitional housing coupons for homeless families with children in School District 51.
GJHA has provided 165 Housing Vouchers specifically for homeless veterans. Because of challenges directly related to their military service, homeless veterans typically remain homeless longer than their peers. Veteran assist programs are in place to help service men and women get back on their feet more quickly and eventually enter the rental market without assistance.
Home Buying and Foreclosure Prevention
GJHA offers classes specifically designed to help people keep their homes. These classes are completely free of charge. Through their first time home buyer education programs and foreclosure prevention program, more families are able to find and keep homes. Studies have shown that first-time homebuyers that receive classroom education are 23% less likely to undergo serious mortgage complications, such as foreclosure. Over the past 48 months, GJHA actively prevented the foreclosure of 1,495 homes. This is done through counseling. Counselors meet with families and evaluate and prioritize their spending. A plan is then made for either keeping their current home or transitioning to a more affordable home.
Networks Unlimited provides the managed services, T1’s, email filtering, anti-virus and offsite backups for The Grand Junction Housing Authority. “We have massive amounts of highly important data. We don’t worry about it losing it now,” Says Wertz. Before Networks Unlimited’s backup solution, if data was lost or mishandled, there was no chance of getting it back and repercussions would be huge from both a security and financial stand point. Kevin Sperle, IT director, says that the great thing about working with Networks Unlimited is the fact that there is always someone able to help. One particular engineer may be really familiar with the network, but if they are not able to help right away, there is someone else that has the expertise to find solutions; there are always multiple people that can help.