Our BIG News and Future Plans

August 3, 2015 | Posted in Housing |

July ended on an extremely high note. We just found out that we won nearly $15 million in tax credits from the state to build Cardinal Point, a new affordable housing community in the Four Points area with good schools and plenty of job opportunities. We are very happy about this news and can’t wait to welcome 120 low-income families home to Cardinal Point in 2017!

This is an important moment in our organization’s history. Cardinal Point is one of SIX (yes, SIX) new communities we have in the pipeline. Our waiting lists for housing have never been longer and the need for affordable housing in Austin is at an all-time high. We are excited to be growing.

Each of our future communities will provide more than just a roof over people’s heads. At Cardinal Point, for example, families will have access to our free education, financial stability and health programs right where they live. There will be a Community Learning Center with after-school and summer learning programs, ESL classes, and fitness classes like Zumba and yoga.

With the construction of Cardinal Point and our other new communities, we expect to welcome home 1,000 new residents by the end of 2017.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’re planning over the next few years:

Homestead Apartments (pictured above) – Homestead Apartments is slated to open at the end of this year. It is located near Brodie and Slaughter and will be home 140 families.

Lakeline Station Apartments – Lakeline Station is scheduled to open in late 2016. It is located at 620 and 183 and will be home to 128 families.

Live Oak Trails – Live Oak Trails is scheduled to open in late 2016. It is located next to our Southwest Trails community in Oak Hill and will be home to 58 families.

Bluebonnet Studios – Bluebonnet Studios is scheduled to open in late 2016. It is located at Bluebonnet and South Lamar and will be home to 107 single adults, including low-wage workers, formerly homeless individuals, veterans, seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Garden Terrace Phase 3 – Garden Terrace Phase 3 is an expansion of our Garden Terrace community located on William Cannon and is expected to be complete by 2017. The expansion will be home to 20 single adults, very similar to the future residents at Bluebonnet.

Cardinal Point – Cardinal Point is slated to open in 2017. It will be located in the Four Points area, close to the intersection of River Place Boulevard and Four Points Drive, and will be home to 140 families.

Stay tuned for updates!

Free Minds Helps Mom Achieve College Dreams

June 16, 2015 | Posted in Education |

Crystal Luna dropped out of high school when she was 16 to take care of her new son, Mikey. She returned to school nearly ten years later because she wanted to set a good example for him and change her life.

As a single parent, she worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. Despite the challenging circumstances, Crystal wanted Mikey to see and understand the value of a college education.

“I want him to be much further in his life at the age of 30 than I am now,” Crystal said.

Crystal will turn 30 this summer and Mikey is in 7th grade. Once Crystal set her mind to returning to school,she earned her GED. She also decided to get a jump-start on her college career by applying to our Free Minds program.

Free Minds is a free two-semester college humanities course for adults living on low to moderate incomes. The rigorous program is run in partnership with UT Austin and Austin Community College (ACC). After being accepted into the program, Crystal has spent the last year studying literature, American history, philosophy and writing.

Her favorite assignment so far has been reading Plato’s The Republic. Crystal overcame her apprehension about the dense classic early on in the course and proved to herself that she could, in fact, succeed in Free Minds. Besides
exploring new literary worlds, Crystal said Free Minds has taught her how to successfully balance her life’s competing priorities: raising her son, working full-time and completing her education.

One of the reasons Crystal was able to enroll in the program and commit to its demanding schedule is because Mikey can come with her. While Crystal is hard at work in discussion groups, Mikey participates in a Creative Action class. Creative Action is one of our nonprofit partners and the class is free for children of Free Minds’ students.

“Being able to bring Mikey made it so much easier as a single parent,” Crystal said. “He loves his class with Creative Action too.”

This month, Crystal and her fellow Free Minds students will graduate with six college credits. Crystal has already applied for financial aid at ACC and plans to enroll for the summer and fall semesters. She will be pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Music Business, Performance and Technology in order to live out her dream of working full-time in the music industry.

Newly minted with a degree, Crystal envisions many more doors opening in her and her son’s future. “Free Minds prepared me for what comes next,” she said. “The program helped open those doors.” To learn more about our Free Minds program, please visit www.freemindsaustin.org.

Coaching Families to a Stronger Financial Future

April 6, 2015 | Posted in Financial Stability |

Miguel Stoupignan is an unwavering optimist and problem solver. As one of our seasoned financial coaches, Miguel works one-on-one with Foundation Communities residents and Austin community members to strengthen their financial stability. Miguel meets with clients who are struggling to make ends meet. They come to him extremely concerned about their financial future.

Miguel shares with clients the advice his father gave to him as a child. “There is no problem you can’t solve – it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “Make an action plan.”

Creating an action plan is where Miguel can help. Like our other volunteer financial coaches, Miguel meets regularly with his clients to understand their financial situations. Then, they work collaboratively to figure out how to manage tight budgets, reduce debt, improve credit, and set achievable short-term and long-term goals. Understandably, discussing financial decisions is stressful for many people.

“To me, talking about money is emotional, just like any other problem in life,” Miguel said. “The clients want to open their hearts to you.”

When first meeting with clients, Miguel said his main objective is to establish a meaningful, personal connection. This approach, along with his positive outlook, is what makes Miguel such an effective financial coach. He gets to know his clients in order to help them implement the right solutions and, ultimately, change their lives.

Becoming a financial coach was a natural fit for Miguel. After several years in the restaurant business, he now works as a consultant for companies of all sizes. Miguel stays busy with his consulting business and his family, but he has been a dedicated Foundation Communities volunteer for the last three years.

In addition to volunteering as a financial coach, Miguel also serves as a small business coach, credit counselor and tax preparer. He carves out time weekly to volunteer, which he said is as beneficial for him as it is for the folks he serves.

“You are doing something to solve a problem, which is satisfying, and you are making friends,” Miguel said. Miguel has no plans on slowing down any time soon and jokes that he won’t retire until 2060. He also encourages others to find the volunteer opportunity with Foundation Communities that best fits them.

“It’s going to complete you,” he said. “You learn a lot, not only because of the issue at hand, but because of the clients.”

Veteran Finds Home Sweet Home at Capital Studios

January 14, 2015 | Posted in Housing | Keywords:

Lisa Nave and twelve other formerly homeless veterans walked into a completed Capital Studios last month for the first time. It was a momentous occasion. They took a tour of their new community together and signed their leases. For Lisa, that day meant finally putting all of her belongings in one place and moving into a stable, safe home of her very own.

“I feel rested, and I am relaxed,” Lisa said. “I haven’t felt this way ever.”

There were times in Lisa’s life when she would barricade her doors and windows because she didn’t feel safe. She spent sleepless nights in the bed of her truck, on friends’ couches and, most recently, in a homeless shelter.

Lisa left the U.S. Army Reserve reluctantly after 19 years of service. She was 35 at the time and struggling with the repercussions of the abuse, neglect and harassment she faced both as a child and as an adult.

Lisa had enlisted in the Army to escape her dysfunctional childhood home and the military became her way of life. When mental health issues worsened in her early 30s, she lost the only career she had ever known.

Five months after leaving the military, Lisa had depleted her savings. Her past haunted her and her future seemed bleak.

Lisa and her teenage daughter moved from place to place, trying to find a home where they belonged.

“I didn’t have a place where I felt welcome, even with my own family,” Lisa said.

Ultimately, Lisa was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and her doctor urged her to get counseling. Lisa made the decision to move to Austin to get the treatment she needed and to be close to her daughter, who now lives in San Antonio. She found Austin Clubhouse, a Foundation Communities partner, as a critical source of support.

At Capital Studios, Lisa said she is enjoying the simple pleasures that are often taken for granted: a warm shower, a satisfying meal, a bed to rest her head. She is also looking to her future, which she said is filled with healing and opportunities.

“I’ve always lived in haunted houses,” Lisa said. “Now I can have a home sweet home.”

Tax Prep Leads Resident to Fresh New Start

January 5, 2015 | Posted in Financial Stability | Keywords: ,

When Joyce Guagliardo first visited our Community Tax Centers a few years ago, she lived in less than ideal circumstances.

Joyce was in and out of the hospital and for a while she was homeless, sleeping on other people’s couches or living in her car. Years of serious physical and mental health issues made it impossible for her to maintain a full-time job.

Joyce’s family had always prided themselves on their work ethic.

“I had never relied on anyone for anything,” she said.

It was hard for her to give up work and remain optimistic about the future given her health challenges.

Since being introduced to Foundation Communities, Joyce said that she finally feels like she’s moving forward again.

Most significantly, Joyce and her husband Lawrence moved into Buckingham Place Duplexes, one of our family communities in south Austin. As residents, the Guagliardos have participated in many of our financial stability programs, learning how to cut their utility bills in half and taking our money management classes.

Earlier this year, Joyce returned to our Community Tax Centers and met with long-time volunteer Sid Stuewe. She cried when she found out she was going to meet with Sid because she felt relieved to be in such capable hands.

Every time she visits the Community Tax Centers, Joyce said our volunteers are friendly and knowledgeable. “I’m not in the dark about anything,” she said. Joyce said she is incredibly grateful to Foundation Communities and to all of the dedicated volunteers she has met over the years.

We rely on over 2,000 volunteers annually to carry out the programs that serve our residents and neighbors. In 2014, volunteers at our Community Tax Centers prepared more than 20,000 tax returns, resulting in over $36 million in refunds for hard-working, local families. We hope to assist even more families during the 2015 tax season and we need you! As a Community Tax Centers volunteer, you’ll truly make a difference for folks like Joyce.

For more information about volunteering with our Community Tax Centers, contact Jackie Blair at Jackie.Blair@foundcom.org or 512-610-7377.

Capital Studios: A Home in the Heart of Austin

September 30, 2014 | Posted in Housing |

Capital Studios, the first affordable housing in downtown Austin in 45 years, is set to open soon. Later this year, 135 individuals will move in to our brand-new community in the heart of the city we all love.

For our newest residents, Capital Studios will be a fresh start. Musician and current Foundation Communities resident Evan Johns said finding us made him feel like the luckiest man alive.

Evan toured the world playing music and earned a Grammy nomination. He moved to Austin and cemented his status as a guitar legend. But decades of being surrounded by free alcohol and drugs destroyed his bones, liver and kidneys. Evan sought treatment for his addiction but had little money and nowhere to go when it was time to leave.

Like many of our future Capital Studios residents, Evan would have been homeless without Foundation Communities. Now Evan spends his days doing what he loves – writing songs and playing guitar.

“I’m deeply grateful for getting a second chance at life,” Evan said.

We worked hard to overcome the challenges Capital Studios presented and are especially grateful to the early and energetic support of the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association and the Downtown Austin Alliance.

As with all of our new communities, Capital Studios required neighborhood support, as well as citywide voter approval of affordable housing bonds, in order for us to secure state funding to build it.

Capital Studios will be home to our signature education, financial stability, and healthy living programs. Residents will have access to dedicated case managers, college prep classes, integrated health care, and one-on-one financial coaching, among other opportunities to transform their lives. We rely on the continued support of generous donors like you to fund these vital onsite services.

We can’t wait to welcome our newest residents to Capital Studios. We expect their stories, like Evan’s, will fill our hearts with hope and propel us forward. There’s plenty of work left to do to provide deeply affordable homes for those who need it most in Austin. Capital Studios moves us in the right direction.

Thank you to all of you for joining us on the journey to build this beautiful new community.

For more information about our Future Communities, click here

Summer Learning Keeps Local Students Engaged

August 5, 2014 | Posted in Education |

For many of the students we serve in our after-school and summer programs, our on-site Learning Centers are a second home. Maryam and Ali Alattabi, Iraqi refugees who moved to Sierra Vista with their parents a year ago, said they love coming to their Learning Center.

“I come in and smile,” said Maryam, who is 12 and headed to 6th grade next year.

Neither Maryam nor her 10-year-old brother Ali could speak English very well when they arrived in the United States almost two years ago, but now they are practically fluent, thanks to the individualized support they receive year-round from us.

“I got help with math problems,” Maryam said. “The teachers at the Learning Center made me understand more.”

Even though school is out for the summer, learning continues for the more than 700 kids enrolled in our free 6-week summer learning program. At all ten of our Learning Centers, students are staying academically engaged through reading, science, technology, engineering, and math activities that reinforce the skills they gained during the school year.

There is also plenty of time for fun, like swimming and volleyball, exciting field trips and interesting guest speakers from the community.

Summer learning is critical for our students because it helps narrow the achievement gap and prevent “summer slide.” Research shows that low-income students tend to fall behind during the summer months because of limited access to year-round academic support.

Our unique summer learning program provides kids in kindergarten through 5th grade the consistent academic support they need to succeed right where they live and at no cost to their parents.

Maryam and Ali’s mother said her family feels happy, comfortable and safe since moving to Sierra Vista. As part of our Children’s Home Initiative program for at-risk or formerly homeless families, they receive additional support services from our staff.

We expect that Maryam and Ali and the rest of the students in our summer learning program will wow their new teachers this fall!

For more information about our Summer Learning Programs, click here

Top Things To Do When Moving To A New Home

May 26, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized |

Whether you are interested in our Buckingham Palace, Sierra Ridge, Vintage Creek or Crossroads Austin family apartments or studios for single adults or you are more eager to move to our North Texas community, we invite you to get in touch with us and let us handle everything for you. We can recommend the best locations for you and our family while emphasizing the importance of sustainability. Get ready for a gorgeous smoke free, healthy environment in the close proximity of public transportation and other important amenities in the city. And if you are all packed and on the verge of moving, here are a few helpful thing to keep in mind when reaching your new home.

Pest-proof Your Home

This will save you from a lot of trouble later on; even if the place looks spotless and you see no reason why you should do this, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You should think about setting off a bug bomb calling an exterminator who can come and spray the apartment so you can stay on the safe side. You will be bringing in food and flavors that tend to attract various bugs and ants, so it’s best to be proactive and avoid actually having to deal with a pest invasion later on. This is especially advised if you have small children who will crawl on the floors a lot – you don’t want them exposed to harsh chemicals after you move in. So take advantage of the few hours you have at hand before the moving truck unloads and call a specialist.

Start Fresh – Change Locks, Install Windows Treatments

It is a good idea to give your place a thorough clean and insist on the floors, windows, and baseboards. It is a good idea to have windows treatments installed so you can enjoy a tranquil night protected against curious eyes lurking out the window and checking your belongings out.

Have a locksmith come over and evaluate the state of the locks around the house and rekey them or install fresh ones you can never know who else still has a duplicate key for your how place, so this step is mandatory. For those of you who are about to move to the Greater Chicago area, a fast Chicago locksmith in the area that handles lock rekey and lock installation for homes is the best solution. You can try to uninstall the old locks and install new ones by yourself but it will most likely be a challenge task and the last thing you need before you move is handle yet another stressful event. The peace of mind you will gain from hiring the service of authorized locksmiths are easy to grasp; find a licensed company that offers mobile services on a 24/7 basis so they can handle your lockouts or fast key duplicate needs as soon as possible. Pick a crew with small flat rates and always inquire about any additional fees they might add to the final costs you originally agreed upon. Unexpected work and tools might be needed or complex locks, but make sure you do not get ripped off by scammers who are not few in this industry.

Health Champion Changes Lives After Changing His Own

May 22, 2014 | Posted in Health | Keywords: ,

Keith Hines surveyed his life and decided to make a drastic change. After more than twenty years of drug and alcohol abuse, the U.S. Army veteran found himself homeless with no ties to his family. Keith lived in his car for nine months and received several citations from the city before he visited the Downtown Austin Community Court and sought help.

A case manager at the court helped Keith by giving him access to treatment and then facilitated his move into permanent supportive housing with Foundation Communities through a partnership with Caritas. Over the past two years, Keith has found real stability at Spring Terrace.

“Spring Terrace gave me a chance to get my life back on track,” Keith said. “It was one of the best things to ever happen to me.”

Since moving in, Keith has stayed clean and sober. He knew that having his own apartment presented him with the chance to live his life differently. “I knew that I had to do positive things,” Keith said. “I had to make better choices.”

The Georgia native is not only making better choices for himself, he is also encouraging others in his community to do the same by serving as the resident health champion at Spring Terrace. In this role, Keith oversees walking groups, helps coordinate healthy living classes, such as cooking and yoga, and plans fun outdoor activities, like trips to Barton Springs.

Keith also shares useful health tips with his friends and neighbors through weekly flyers. “Being the health champion allows me to do another positive thing,” Keith said. “I’m helping other people.”

Foundation Communities began recruiting health champions last year as a way to provide residents with meaningful leadership opportunities through our increasingly robust healthy living program. Keith explained that he knocks on his neighbors’ doors before classes, inviting them to attend, and is actively trying to get more residents involved in the many health activities available on site.

It was the U.S. Army that brought Keith to Texas decades ago. He married and had children, but his life unraveled once he began abusing drugs and alcohol in the early 1990s. Keith was in and out of treatment for years, but it wasn’t until his move to Spring Terrace that he really committed to changing his life.

“I feel good about what I’m doing today,” Keith said. “I’m giving back to the community, I have a relationship with my kids, and I’m responsible. People can count on me today.”

For more information about our Healthy Living Initiatives, click here

Environmental Commitment Via Eco-Friendly Locksmiths

May 13, 2014 | Posted in Financial Stability |

One of our main points of focus refers to making important investments in green building initiatives. Why?  To cut operating costs as well as our carbon footprint in the environment, while bringing positive changes on our residents’ monthly utility bills. How? By using construction materials and resources more efficiently throughout the entire life cycle of a building. Also, though a more efficient use of energy, water, protecting occupant health and enhancing the productivity of employees, while reducing waste and pollution.

Every Small Detail Matters

If you are interested in becoming one of our residents or donating money r materials for cause, know our main concern will be to lower the harmful effects of building a new construction from scratch through every mean possible. This includes everything from recycling materials to contracting green locksmiths to install the locks on all the doors inside our buildings. The green handyman movement is a relatively new one, stimulated by the necessity of better protecting the environment against artificial pollutants. Since lockout services imply the use of heavy metal tools and disposable parts that can pollute the nature, working together with technicians genuinely concerned about these apparently insignificant matters is a great idea.  

How Can Eco-friendly Locksmiths Be Found? 

Not that easy at the moment, since there are not as many of them to begin with. Hopefully, in time, more companies and independent handymen will decide to join the green movement and use recycling and responsible disposal of broken parts more often than not. while you can easily get in touch with a Locksmith in Los Angeles whenever you need to rekey a broken lock, install a new security system around the house, or unlock an accidentally blocked door, it’ less likely to discover an expert who will drive an electric car to your location, or recycle the metallic deadbolts and screws or handles you will no longer need. The majority of locksmiths are used to either leaving these items behind into the hand of customers who are forced to get rid of them usually the wrong way- throwing them right to the trash– but a handful of green locksmiths will make sure to pick them up and take them to specialized metal disposal containers.

Organic lubricants are also used as a trademark of eco-friendly locksmiths when they need to fix door broken locks or unlock hammed doors. If you alike in the L.A. area and you are currently in need of a locksmith for a residential service, you can call the 24/7 Los Angeles Locksmiths and fellows and ask the customer support operator if they can use organic product – in case you’re your kids or pets need extra protection against harmful substances – or you are an eco-friendly kind of person! Their rates are some of the lowest there and they also offer nonstop emergency lockout help for home, car, and office within 20 minutes of placing a call. As the resident of one of our apartments, you can bookmark an emergency locksmith number you can use whenever in lockout distress that requires immediate attention.