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 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.

Quick Household Fixes For Our Residents

April 27, 2014 | Posted in Financial Stability |

We are currently catering to the needs of over 2,800 families and the numbers also include 228 children who were formerly homeless. We offer single adults 600 efficiency apartments to choose from and our work does not stop here. We also provide our households’ residents with a wide array of educational, financial, and health-related opportunities so they can make a better life for themselves. You can find us in Austin and North Texas if you are interested in one of our rentals – or if you wish to volunteer for us in any way. And because we like to throw all the focus on our residents, here are some quick repair tips for fixing things around the house when you are on a budget.


How To Rapidly Fix Annoying Home Ailments – By Yourself

Kitchen sink is so clogged you feel only a plumber can save you out of this one? try a solution made from half a cup vinegar and half a cup baking soda and pour hot, boiled water in and let it sit over the night. If this doesn’t do it, use a solution made of half a cup of salt and half a cup of baking soda and hot water. If this doesn’t work either, you might need to call a plumber to have the pipes detached from the sink and get the dirt clogging them out.  

If your locks are a little loose or you notice the door knob not working properly, before you perform a quick online emergency locksmith near me search on your laptop using the locksmiths-search database with 10,000 technicians in it, use some lubricant or a simple screwdriver and try to put the knob back in place. If this is not a matter of a loose screw, and your lock might need rekeying or some more advanced repair, it is best to contact a professional locksmith to avoid any unfortunate occurrences such as having to spend the night in an unlocked apartment. You are talking about your safety here, so you may want to pick the best solution possible, even if it means having to spend some money in the process.    


If you are confronting with the problem of annoying chairs ruining your beautiful flooring, use hammer in tacks you can attach felt pads to for your dining chairs and use rubber pads for your sofa and beds that usually stay in just one place around the house.


The Benefits of Creating a Budget Plan

April 27, 2014 | Posted in Financial Stability |

The unemployment rates in America may have dropped in the last few months, but there are still those who are struggling to manage to make it from day to day.

Not many of these people keep themselves to a spending plan for their monthly expenditures and we’re here to let you know why you should be keeping yourself and your family to a tight budget plan.

There are a number of different benefits to keeping yourself on a financial budget plan and the most important of which is that it lets you keep on top of all the cash going in and out of your account.

There’s an old saying that goes ‘Control your money, don’t let your money control you’ and having complete control over your finances can make your life considerably easier as it reduces stress and lets you figure out a monthly spending plan.

Having a budget plan also lets you get your monthly costs in perspective. So rather than feeling like you’re constantly paying bills, you will be able to figure out how much has to be set aside each month and if you have any sources of expendable income to use.

Budget planning will also let you come up with financial goals for yourself. For example, if you were aiming to buy a new car, planning out your costs would let you figure out how much you would have to set aside each month.

But it’s not just financial goals you can set up because you will also be able to create a nest egg for a rainy day or to cover any unforeseen costs. After all, we know how expensive medical bills can become, especially if you can’t afford the insurance to cover your costs.

By creating a planned budget, you can also figure out if there are other ways to get more from your money through savings accounts, bonds or investments in the financial market. Although you may want to extensively research this to make sure you’re making the right decision and getting the most from your money.

It’s like how you would spend some time researching a casino or bingo sites bingo bonuses to make sure they were giving you the best offer on your investments before you put any of your money in.

An interesting thing about creating a budget plan is that it also lets you look at potential debt loads. Of course, debt is always seen as a bad thing by many as it can often cause more harm than good, but there are times when it can realistically be covered and work to your benefit.  Although, this only happens if you have a good enough plan you could easily pay back any loans you take out, but it is possible.

There are numerous financial problems that can be solved by creating a budget plan. So if you ever find yourself struggling to cope with your monthly costs, try building up a plan because it will help out a lot!

Resident Recycling Advocate Makes Daffodil Shine

March 7, 2014 | Posted in Get Involved | Keywords: ,

Driving up to our Daffodil Apartments in southeast Austin, you immediately notice the array of plants growing on Irene Vera’s front porch. Irene, a Daffodil resident for more than six years, spends her days gardening, caring for her dogs and helping her friends and neighbors keep the place where they live looking its best.

“I get along with everybody,” Irene said of her fellow Daffodil residents. “Everybody knows me well.”

It was Irene’s friendly and outgoing spirit that moved her to take charge of the community’s recycling initiative last fall. She explained that after her two grandchildren participated in a recycling program at Smith Elementary, they encouraged her to recycle too.

Last fall Foundation Communities staff visited Daffodil to demonstrate recycling protocol, but did not reach everybody at their doorstep. That’s where Irene stepped in. She reached out to her neighbors to explain the importance of recycling and offer her assistance.

Two months after these outreach efforts, our green initiatives team discovered that Daffodil residents had more than doubled their recycling rate. As a result, we plan on expanding our recycling education to more Foundation Communities properties.

Becoming the recycling champion at Daffodil provided Irene with the opportunity to stay engaged with her neighbors and take care of the home she loves.

“It keeps my mind busy and keeps me from going into the depression I get into from time to time,” Irene said.

After a severe back injury and other health problems forced Irene to leave her job at a shipping and receiving warehouse nearly 10 years ago, Irene said that there have been times when she has shut herself off from the world.

But being part of the Daffodil community – where people know and care for her and the kids playing outside wave hello – has been a source of strength.

“My neighbors look out for me, like I look out for them,” Irene said.

Going forward, Irene will remain a recycling advocate with the hopes that more friends and neighbors get on board.

“Recycling is part of the pride in having a clean space to live,” Irene added. “I’m trying to get everybody to help and do their part as well.”

Resident education, community gardens and green buildings are all ways that we demonstrate our commitment to sustainability. Our green initiatives help residents, like Irene Vera, enjoy healthier lives, contribute in meaningful ways and lessen our impact on the environment.

Resident Cooks Up Plan for Success

February 4, 2014 | Posted in Financial Stability |

When Leslie Goodson and her three sons moved into an Austin homeless shelter, she felt like her world was crumbling. Leslie had overcome a lot already – her first son’s extended hospital stays due to a rare heart condition and the sudden death of her husband. At the time, Leslie’s estranged relationship with her father left her with nowhere else to turn.

“I was devastated,” she said.

Leslie learned about Foundation Communities while at the shelter. With our support, she gradually managed to get back on her feet and provide her family with a safe, affordable place to call home.

After moving into her new apartment, Leslie decided that she wanted to change her life for good and build a better future for herself and her sons. She utilized our onsite support services and took advantage of our financial stability programs.

Leslie has participated in Foundation Communities’ money management classes and one-on-one financial coaching. She also had her taxes prepared for free at our Community Tax Centers and, in August, she joined a brand-new savings program that encourages families to set aside money each month for emergencies.

The 42-year-old single mom said she now knows how to manage her budget, improve her credit score, and save for the future. With the help of her financial coach, Leslie is also actively pursuing her goal of opening a soul food restaurant in Austin.

“I love food and I love the feeling that I get when I feed people and they’re happy,” she said.

In addition to her full-time job as a medical assistant at a local clinic, Leslie spends her time researching other restaurants, coming up with menu ideas, and figuring out pricing. Recently, she catered a few small parties and she is considering the possibility of owning and operating her own food truck.

“With the steps I’m taking, slowly, but surely, I know [my restaurant] is going to be successful,” she said. Leslie said she will continue to work towards her goal, with the hope of one day passing her business on to her sons. In the meantime, the budding entrepreneur says she knows her sons are proud of all the progress she has made financially – and in life.

For more information about our Financial Stability programs, click here