Crucial Support for Families on the Edge
Harmony House, Coos Bay
Jennifer Spatz worked for a nonprofit that administered children’s programs and services where she saw firsthand the difficulty at-risk families had in finding shelter. The lack of supportive transitional housing led Jennifer and others to launch a new effort to meet the need. In 2017, they founded Coos Cares, which runs Harmony House to shelter families and match them with essential services. But the new organization was strained for resources, with only enough funding for two part-time staffers.
“The economy here has not caught up quite as quickly as the rest of the state. Between the economy and lack of housing, it has really caused a big strain on our local families.”
Coos Cares Executive Director
In 2018, a grant from OCF funded these positions full time. “It’s had a huge impact on case management,” said Spatz. “The clients are getting help quicker and getting more of it.” Coos Cares also helps nonresident clients stay housed or find other affordable housing.
Coos Cares removes barriers to employment and stable housing by connecting residents and other parents with agencies that can help them access transportation, create resumes, prepare for job interviews, and obtain a drivers license.
Since February 2018, nine families have lived at Harmony House. Five moved on to permanent stable housing, three are still living there, and one moved into another housing option. The organization is aiming to purchase properties and extend services to more families as new funding is secured. “The return on investment is good,” Spatz said.