YWCA Grace Garden
August 13, 2019
Working Together To Create Permanent Supportive Housing
Grace Garden is a YWCA supported 30-unit residence that provides women and children a safe, affordable and supportive place to live as they rebuild their lives. By the end of 2019, an estimated 30 women and 45 children will call Grace Garden home. This residence is the result of an innovative, cross-sector partnership of like-minded businesses and organizations, fiercely united with the YWCA to positively impact this complex social challenge.
Grace Garden will offer individuals and families a new sense of community, permanence and a foundation on which to pursue their dreams. Gate City Bank is proud to provide the resources needed to help women and their children on their journey to a better life.
A celebratory moment captured at the official ribbon cutting of YWCA Grace Garden on August 13, 2019.
Gate City Bank is a longtime supporter of the YWCA, including building an Economic Enrichment Wing in 2015 and remodeling their Transitional Housing in 2010.
In 2016, Gate City Bank committed to a $1.5 million donation over the course of 12 years to help the YWCA Cass Clay permanent supportive housing project become reality. We invested in Grace Garden because we know they accomplish incredible things by making the most of every gift they receive. The donation provided the necessary funds to cover project start-up costs for the building process, such as architectural and site services. The gift also covers an often over-looked aspect of projects - full program costs for the first 10 years once construction is complete, from 2019 to 2029. This funding will bring essential onsite advocacy and guidance to women as they overcome barriers to employment, health, education, transportation and other situations that might otherwise trigger repeat homelessness.
Today, women who are escaping poverty and violence have new possibilities and new hope. Grace Garden gives them the time and space needed to work toward their independence. Gate City Bank is deeply grateful to the YWCA and Lutheran Church of the Cross for their partnership and their commitment to creating a Better Way of Life for women in our community.
Why Supportive Housing?
Women who’ve lived in domestic violence situations have often been controlled by a partner: prevented from working, exploited financially and left with poor credit, isolated from family, psychologically abused, other times left with no self-esteem or health to reliably hold a job. Digging out of debt, recovering from past credit problems, finding a job, arranging transportation and childcare, saving up money for an apartment deposit and getting to a living wage takes months and even years. Recovery from these devastating effects of abuse or homelessness takes time.
Supportive housing means housing stability, which is fundamental to financial stability. Pointing to a dire need for more supportive housing in the community, the YWCA was able to accept only 13 percent of applicants for YWCA-operated supportive housing in 2016. While Fargo-Moorhead seemingly has plentiful apartments for rent, a surge in population growth in recent years has led to a situation of very few affordable apartments for those with modest wages. There is a 10 percent vacancy rate in the full market and just over 2 percent in the affordable market, according to the City of Fargo.
While this site will be classified as permanent supportive housing, 78 percent of women in other YWCA permanent housing move on to other apartments or housing in the community within just two years. Typically, it’s because their income has risen sufficiently to afford other apartments or homes. This new housing opportunity allows YWCA to get more women and children into safe, affordable housing quicker, while providing the supportive services and connections to community-based supports they need to avoid returning to homelessness. Or worse, returning to abusive relationships out of desperation to gain a roof overhead. Grace Garden is ideally situated because of its close proximity to jobs, the new elementary school under construction and public transportation.
The comprehensive program of education and employment coaching, health services and the support of YWCA advocates has proven successful for helping women and their children.
- 79% of women increased their education or income while in the program
- 85% of women improved their physical and/or mental health while in the program
- 92% of families secured independent, permanent homes within just two years of beginning the Supportive Housing Program.
About the YWCA
YWCA is best known for 40 years of providing emergency shelter for women to escape domestic violence and homelessness. The shelter on South University Drive was built in 2004, and has capacity for 67 women and children at any one time. Yet it typically serves up to 80 women and children each night to bring women out of imminent danger. Overcapacity was addressed in strategic planning by the YWCA board of directors in 2015 with a goal set to expand beyond 19 housing units managed at the time. Among the first in North Dakota to enter supportive housing, YWCA had proven successful in solving homelessness through this housing. YWCA carries forward into this setting valuable knowledge about life skills needed after devastating poverty and domestic violence. There have been 1,978 women and children served through the YWCA supportive housing program over the past 27 years. Since its board set an ambitious goal in 2015 to double its supportive housing, YWCA has already gone from 19 to 32 homes and will be well past doubling in just four years.
Learn more about the YWCA Grace Garden here.