Fix the Flats Campaign
It is our intent that the Jeffris Flats will continue to provide transitional housing to survivors of domestic violence, as they have been doing so since 1993, for many more years. Residents are required to participate in the YWCA’s Transitions for Women programming, which provides case management and supportive services to help residents and their children establish violence-free homes and develop work plans toward self-sufficiency and stabilization success.
Our target population is low-income families recovering from domestic violence that are unemployed or underemployed and facing significant barriers to family sustainable income. Characteristics of our typical adult client include economic vulnerability, history of exposure to violence and trauma and multiple contacts with social service systems. Many of the women we serve can be identified as “at-risk”, due to generational poverty, homelessness, systemic racism, and personal histories of violence and trauma.
Of the 12 women and 27 children served so far this year all were below 30% of the poverty level and homeless before entering our program. The median age is 25 and all are single mothers who became homeless after fleeing a domestic violence relationship.
A glimpse of achievement: Successful completion of the program offers each participant a family-based Section 8 voucher which bases their rent on their income. This actually allows them time to create a sustainable income without the worry of homelessness.
"Linda" is currently in our program. When she applied for our program she had left her abuser and was living in her car with four children, all while holding down the only job she could find: a part time job at a fast-food restaurant. Linda and her children are now safely housed at the Jeffris Flats and Linda is working with our Transitions for Women staff on researching opportunities for skills enhancement and/or improved employment.
The Significance: Transitions for Women and the Jeffris Flats is the only transitional housing development for families in Janesville, and the only one that incorporates and requires signed program agreements. We believe renovating the apartment complex inside and out will have a transformational effect on our clients, inspiring them with a place to thrive and succeed in our programming. Quality home living can also help women reach their goals quicker and with more ease by reducing further financial crisis in their lives. This renovation will enhance existing community services by strengthening collaboration with other agencies, such as the YWCA's participation in the Homeless Intervention Task Force. Transitions for Women takes pressure off other agencies by not only housing homeless women but by leading them into permanent housing.
The Challenge: Program Director Martha Pearson also functions as the property landlord: securing and managing tenants, and responding to property needs. Because of the condition of the units, many potential residents decline an offer of an approved apartment, leaving apartments vacant and turnover frequent, draining income potential for the YWCA. Additionally, residents who do decide to live there are at the disadvantage of the continuity of old, run-down surroundings and are often unmotivated enough by the "old unit" they simply live in them "as is." Also, potential clients may be finding better places to live, but not living arrangements that offer the vital programming they need in order to heal and move toward healthy independence.
The Need: The Jeffris Flats apartment building is a two-story masonry building originally constructed in 1884 by David Jeffris, a Janesville contractor and is listed on the National Register of Historic places within the West Milwaukee Street Historic District. It was last renovated in 1993 and consists of two buildings joined by a central entrance, in all totaling 12,100 sq. ft.
The building is divided into 11 apartments and one central program office space. As of 2007, the last professional appraisal of the property considered the general condition of the apartments as "average" at that time. Because of the size and shape of the land and location of the building, there is no future expansion potential. Currently, the exterior needs repairs to its stairs, railings, facade work due to exposure and use, and the interior of many of the units need new flooring, window coverings, wall repairs, kitchen cabinet replacement, plumbing and HVAC repairs, painting, lighting, and more efficient, and safe appliances due to excess and repetitive wear and tear. Budgeted capital improvements for 2012 include $7,000 in Operating Expenses for general maintenance and repairs. The overall budget for Jeffris Flats rental and maintenance is $9,000. To date, we have expended that in repairs, requiring us to prioritize repairs solely on imminent safety or life need. A capital improvement to the Jeffris Flats and its individual apartments will ensure that maximum financial resources remain invested in programming for the women, children, and our community at large, rather than repairs.