FARMINGTON – In December of 2022, the first residents of the new Transitional Housing program moved into the McCleary House, MATE’s first transitional home. Although this family, a young mother and her children, now had a place to live, they still struggled with transportation.
“One of the most common and challenging problems that our community members experiencing housing insecurity are facing is the lack of reliable transportation,” Executive Director Chris DeLisle said. This is thanks to the shortage of public transportation in the Farmington area. Having a vehicle is a part of daily life in this rural area. Understanding this, MATE decided to put together a fundraising initiative to buy a car for the housing guest and her family.
“This is something we haven’t done before,” DeLisle said about the fundraiser. “But adapting our services to meet the changing needs of the community is something we have always done and will continue to do.”
A community member sold MATE a used car with a $1,000 discount. After just a few weeks of fundraising, on February 8 they were able to purchase the car and present it to their Transitional Housing guest.
“Having my own car feels amazing! I feel like I have my freedom back,” the guest said.
The Transitional Housing program began a few years ago when MATE’s former Executive Director, Thea Kornelius, noticed how the pandemic had affected the problem of affordable housing in the Farmington area. DeLisle explained that there was a 64% increase in house pricing from 2019 to 2022, from $143,000 to $235,027. He described this increase as “incredibly unsustainable.”
“People with good paying, full-time jobs struggle to find a house they can afford, but what of those struggling just to make ends meet?” DeLisle asked. “The idea behind the transitional housing program is to prevent people experiencing housing insecurity from ending up on the streets or in a homeless shelter.”
DeLisle explained how the program works: “We provide them with a temporary home that is more private, comfortable, and compassionate, and gives them an opportunity to get back on their feet. While guests are involved in our transitional housing program, they engage regularly with our guest liaison and hospitality coordinator, both volunteers, who help the guest set goals and move towards permanent housing.”
MATE transformed the McCleary House, a 1800s farmhouse owned by their partner the Fairbanks Union Church, into the sole transitional housing facility in the county. The house was used for church storage until it was renovated, funded by both grants and donations from the community.
MATE runs a Housing Repair Ministry, founded in 1979, that provides home repairs to those unable to do the repairs themselves for either financial or physical reasons. MATE has been serving the greater Farmington area since the 1950s. Visit their website for information on how to support MATE.