Thank You: Heart Room – Opening Doors to Homes for All Families.

Update – July 2018

Heart Room is underway! Six families with young children have been selected for housing assistance using funds ORUCC members contributed. Families were selected by the Heart Room partnership – The Road Home, Joining Forces for Families (JFF) and the Dane County Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) — based on criteria agreed in advance with the church. Families will receive generous rental assistance and family-directed services with the goal of achieving long term housing stability.

Here is a snapshot of the families we will help:

  • A grandmother caring for 5 grandchildren age 2-13. Mom left the country for fear of deportation. Grandma is working, but hopes to improve her job situation. The family has eviction records and touched the homeless system in the past.
  • Mom and Dad of a 1 year old. Dad works two jobs, but due to an injury needs surgery which will significantly limit his ability to work for a period of time. Mom is learning English and hopes to get added education leading to full-time employment.
  • Mom and Dad with 2 children. Older boy will have lifelong disabilities due to being shaken as a baby; his father is in prison. Dad of the younger boy, Mom and children are currently homeless, looking for housing, and went to the Beacon Day Center for support.
  • A Mom with 3 children, age 8-21, known to a JFF worker for many years and barely squeaking by. The extra support of this program is very promising for the family achieving long term housing stability.
  • Two adults and two kids, 9 months old and 6 years old. They were accepted into housing by a landlord specifically because of the Heart Room support with the mutual commitment to work for their success as tenants.
  • A Mom of two who is pregnant with a third child. Her finances have been shaky since she separated from her partner. She just got a job but will need extra support to achieve her goals to provide for her family both short-term and long-term through employment.


Some of these families would welcome volunteers from ORUCC such as English language partners, rides, clothing for children, and other help. Stay tuned for more information!

April 2018 udpate


March 4 was the completion of the Heart Room pledge drive. We have great news! We have great news! Your generous pledges total $115,372 over the three years of the project.  As funds come in, we will provide three years of rental assistance to six families with young children. Partner agencies will offer services to help them keep stable housing long term.



Original Post – Fall 2017

Every family deserves a home. Stable housing is the foundation families need to meet their goals and for children to grow up safe, healthy, happy, and successful in school.

Click here for a More Detailed Version of this Proposal

Background – Shifting from Offering Shelter to Stable Housing

After two years of discussions, Road Home Board of Directors unanimously voted recently to end the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) shelter program.  Kristin Rucinski, Executive Director of The Road Home, said, The Road Home is committed as ever to helping families obtain and maintain stable housing, which has always been our end goal for families. This decision will allow us to focus on what’s best for the families.” Independently of deliberations by The Road Home, in 2017 ORUCC re-committed to promoting stable housing and long-term solutions for families, working with The Road Home, Joining Forces for Families, and the Early Childhood Initiative on a new approach.

ORUCC: Spiritually Alive, Joyfully Inclusive, and Committed to Justice

  • The Gospel calls us to respond to the needs of the poor and welcome children.
  • Research shows homeless children are more likely to suffer from health, mental health, and developmental problems, and are more likely to perform poorly in school.
  • Regardless of other challenges, very low income families need financial assistance simply to afford decent housing, and to build a foundation for long term success.
  • The early years are critical for healthy child development, including brain development.

Our faith calls us to be a good neighbor and part of an effective solution to the challenge of family homelessness and housing instability. Securing a stable home for a family has become increasingly daunting in Madison. A few facts set the practical challenge:

  • Landlords frequently use the guideline of rent costing no more than 30% of gross salary to determine whom they’ll consider renting to.
  • To even be eligible for a typical one bedroom apartment, the gross monthly income would need to be $3080. Listed below are the 2018 fair market rates (FMR) for Madison and the corresponding gross monthly income that would be required for that rent.

HEART ROOM: Collaborating to make a difference

Heart Room is a collaborative pilot program that will provide 6 families with real opportunities to achieve housing stability long-term. The program will offer significant monthly rent subsidies that will gradually decrease over the three years of the program, coupled with other supports from The Road Home [TRH], Early Childhood Initiative [ECI], and Joining Forces for Families [JFF]. The families chosen for this program will:

  • Be struggling to secure or retain housing
  • Have young children (at least one elementary aged child and preferably also a child under the age of 5) with the family enrolled in ECI.
  • Be able to create a pathway leading to stability in housing with this support.

The impact of this program will be evaluated to determine future directions. We will also reach out to other faith communities to learn together with a commitment to expand what works.

What can our financial support of this program mean?

  • We at ORUCC will enact our faith and live into our church mission statement.
  • This is a learning experiment bringing together landlords, neighbors and churches as well as service providers in a family-driven, neighborhood-based approach.
  • Rent subsidies, in combination with housing case management and other family services will give parents the chance to move beyond simply surviving to thriving long term.
  • Stable housing improves educational outcomes for children, by reducing the educational barriers associated with homelessness including: poor health and nutrition, feelings of guilt and shame, absenteeism, moving from school to school, grade repetition, special education labeling, and failure to graduate.
  • The financial, educational, physical and emotional health benefits of stable housing increase the chance for housing stability in the next generations.

Over 3 years, this program will cost $95,000. Of that, 85% ($81,000) goes directly to landlords in family housing subsidies. The rest pays for monthly stipends for neighbors on the core team and evaluation. Partner agencies are contributing administrative and other service costs.

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