Extending a Lifeline to People in Need

Through foundations and grants, the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® and the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® try and make life better for the homeless and families in crisis.

January 15, 2014

Formerly homeless people in Washington, D.C., have a bit of a nicer place to stay because of funding provided by the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS®.

GCAAR’s program, GCAAR Cares, provides grants to local housing organizations, and two of the recipients in 2013, Pathways to Housing DC and Friendship Place, help to take homeless people off the streets and put them in permanent homes. Six organizations total received grant funding from GCAAR last year.

“Our biggest pride and joy is our grants program, which has helped to serve more than one million individuals and families with more than $4 million in donated funds over the course of the last decade,” says Debbie Bell, GCAAR’s communications manager. “There is no greater joy than to share our passion to fight homelessness by supporting non-profit organizations in our community that share the same passion.”

GCAAR provided $1,500 each to Pathways DC and Friendship Place last year. The funds, say officials with the two groups, paid for basic home materials for each new tenant, including bed linens, towels, cleaning supplies, pots and pans, and shower curtains.

“In 2013, we moved 79 chronically homeless individuals with serious mental illnesses and other medical challenges from the streets of Washington, D.C., into permanent supportive apartments,” says Hannah Zollman, Pathways DC’s director of development. “Today, these men and women, many of whom are veterans, have a place to call home where they can begin to rebuild their lives and live out their dreams.”

Christine Lauterbach, director of institutional giving for Friendship Place, says that, like Pathway DC, her organization helps homeless people with mental disabilities and chronic substance-abuse problems.

“We’re not talking about the temporarily homeless,” Lauterbach says. “These are people who are chronically homeless. We move them right into housing from the streets.”

One person who has been helped by Friendship Place is 56-year-old Anthony Silas, who was homeless for six years after a rare disease affecting his brain and spinal cord caused him to lose his job. Friendship Place moved him into an apartment, and thanks to funding from GCAAR’s grant, it came with all the basic materials.

“I’m so glad to be housed so that I can begin to recover in a safe place,” Silas says.

Helping Families in Crisis

The Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® has made a similar commitment to help members of its community in need through its MAAR Foundation. The foundation gave $40,000 to 12 local housing organizations in 2013.

The foundation has typically given around $35,000 per year to local housing organizations since 1988, says Donnie Brown, director of community affairs at MAAR.

“The purpose of the foundation is to make financial contributions — up to the amount of income available from its capital fund — to housing and housing-related programs directed to or organized for low-income or the poor of Hennepin and Scott counties,” Brown says.

One group that received funds from MAAR last year is the Harriet Tubman Family Crisis and Services Center in Minneapolis. Having received $3,000 from MAAR, the funds went a long way to helping the organization, as you’ll see in the video below.



Graham Wood
Executive Editor of Digital Media

Graham Wood is Executive Editor of Digital Media for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@nar.realtor.