Serge and Deanna have worked together for a few years on reducing housing instability for families with kids in APS, and we routinely came across the same challenge: even when housing assistance is available, it often takes too long to access for folks on the verge of eviction, leading to missed opportunities and displacement that might have been avoided. The eviction process moves quickly, but nonprofit bureaucracy rarely does. So, earlier this year, we approached our friend Darren and the three of us started a small 501c3 nonprofit called Amparo which we translate as "shelter" in Spanish.
We designed our organization with the idea that we would put together some seed money that could be deployed quickly in support of a very specific target demographic--families with school-age kids in Bernalillo County who are facing loss of housing. Then, once the family crisis is stabilized, we would ideally get reimbursed by the existing, but less agile, funding sources out there. We were fortunate to get an initial grant of $10,000 from the Robert T. Keeler Foundation, and we’ve given out a lot of it, with some (but not as much as we would hope) coming back to us. We get a lot of requests for funding, and we fund as many as we can—we’ve had a lot of good outcomes over the past few months, but of course right now the demand is much higher than we expected it to be when we came up with this plan.
All rent assistance requests are vetted and submitted to Amparo by either community school coordinators in the ABC Community School network of community schools or social workers from the APS Title I McKinney-Vento Program which offers many services to homeless children and families. All requests are housing emergencies and those assisted must be working toward a long-term housing solution.
We thank all of our generous donors for supporting this important work!