REALTOR® Barbara Guy working with families at House of Refuge

© Courtesy of Barbara Guy

REALTOR® Barbara Guy, left, works with homeless families at House of Refuge to provide educational and employment resources to people trying to get back on their feet.

REALTOR® Helps Give Homeless Families a Second Shot

Arizona agent Barbara Guy leads House of Refuge, a transitional housing facility, to get more people off the street and into a home.

August 30, 2022

When Barbara Guy was growing up in Phoenix, her grandparents owned a motel in a poor neighborhood. Most of the motel’s guests were long-term residents. “That was affordable housing,” says Guy, SRES, a sales associate with ProSmart Realty in Gilbert, Ariz. “Most of the people who lived there were sharecroppers or laborers. It was a melting pot: elderly, Filipino, Hispanic, Arab.”

Sometimes, the residents wouldn’t be able to pay monthly rent. So, Guy’s grandmother would accept fresh produce in lieu of money—and then, she’d chop it all up and cook a feast for everyone at the motel to enjoy. That memory still motivates Guy in her efforts to help her community today. “That’s my ‘why,’” she says. “This is why I serve.”

Since 2019, Guy has played a leadership role with House of Refuge, a nonprofit providing transitional housing and social services like job training to homeless families. The organization, which launched in 1996, has acquired 88 two-bedroom homes for the families it serves as well as a church and annexed office building for its operations. House of Refuge offers an initial one-year stay for families who qualify for its program, helping 1,060 people in 2021 alone.

Guy, who is chair of the board for House of Refuge, says its services, which include onsite learning and recreational activities for children, are especially important as affordability in the real estate market plummets. “Rents continue to increase, and a living wage is very difficult right now, she says. Our residents find themselves in situations where they’re just not able to make ends meet. If we had 200 more houses, we could fill them all. The need is so prevalent.

Kayla Kolar, president and CEO of House of Refuge, says Guy is helping the nonprofit recruit volunteers and board members that bring an array of perspectives to the issue of solving homelessness. Guy even converted a former House of Refuge resident into a board member. “Her leadership also provides oversight to board governance, policymaking and fundraising that, in turn, helps the homeless families we serve,” Kolar says.

Guy says she’s now focusing on the future for House of Refuge and how to expand its offerings. “What’s next for the parents and for the kids? How do we lift them up and create opportunity? Vocational school? College? How do we make that space for them? These are our big dreams to empower them to stop the cycle of homelessness.

To learn more about Guy and other REALTORS® who are making extraordinary contributions to their communities and beyond, visit the REALTORS® Are Good Neighbors Facebook page.

Photo of Nicole Slaughter Graham

Nicole Slaughter Graham is an independent journalist and consulting editor with REALTOR® Magazine. She writes articles for the magazine, oversees the Broker to Broker content and manages the YPN Lounge. Additionally, Nicole's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Parents, CNN, Shondaland and more. Connect with her via email: ngraham@nar.realtor or on Twitter @nslaughtgraham.