Client Assistance Fund: A hand up

Homelessness and poverty disproportionately affect BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. In Maine, Black and African American individuals are ten times more likely to experience homelessness than their White peers. To help counteract these negative effects of white supremacist systems, a generous donor contributed $150,000 for a Client Assistance Fund (CAF) to address the immediate needs of Preble Street clients who are People of Color, including immigrants and asylum seekers. Thanks to this fund, the needs of some of the most underserved people in our community have been met.   

More than anything else, this fund has helped Black and Indigenous Mainers access safe and permanent housing. One of the most requested needs has been for security deposits, followed by emergency rental payments and utility bills, housing-related debt relief, car repairs, and household items. Additionally, funds have been utilized for tuition, rental application fees, ordering identification cards, and moving expenses. These one-time grants provide a bit of breathing room for people who have very few places to turn. 

When asked how the funds have impacted clients across Preble Street programs, caseworkers had a lot of incredible stories to share! 

Signs of Hope from the Client Assistance Fund: 

“With this funding, a long-time participant in our Veterans Housing Services program was able to complete his CDL certification and is now looking toward a long-term, well-paying job as a commercial truck driver. This will help immensely with the client’s long-term stability in permanent housing!” 

“A father who needed beds so his teenage son could stay with him was also able to order a kitchen table and chairs. He was so excited to pick furniture for his new apartment, something he had never had before.”  

“This fund supported a young man in our program in going into a rehab for one month. It was something he would not have been able to afford on his own and got him on the road solidly to rebuilding his life. He stopped by my office to tell me he got a full-time job on the spot during his interview. He can’t believe how great he feels!”  

“One of the clients I work with has had a goal of earning her bachelor’s degree in business for several years. She was accepted into Southern Maine Community College for the spring semester to pursue her degree but was unable to afford the tuition. The Client Assistance Fund covered her tuition and books for the semester and has allowed her to begin pursuing this goal.” 

“Several clients I work with have used the CAF to pay their security deposits on their apartments. The fund has been absolutely essential in this respect, as there is currently no other funding available to help clients obtain the money necessary to pay for these deposits. Consequently, the fund has aided countless clients in securing housing and moving out of the shelter.” 

“The Client Assistance Fund has been the ONLY resource for people who don’t have any other options. Historically it has been a huge struggle to get any other financial support for BIPOC clients, especially New Mainers and asylum seekers.” 

“My client, who is an asylum seeker, noted that these funds will be extremely helpful for her financial stability. Personally, I think that this effort is incredibly refreshing and beneficial — especially considering the systemic and often unfair treatment of asylum seekers, including Black asylum seekers. For example, the Boston Asylum Office grants a mere 4% of asylum applicants from the Democratic Republic of Congo despite the U.S. Department of State’s acknowledgment that “significant human rights” abuse occurs there. This fund has truly been a breath of fresh air!”