Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

April 1, 2024

The Housing Navigator Program

The Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance (GNEA) and the Iowa Judicial Branch have partnered to support The Housing Navigator Program. The Navigator at GNEA assists their clients in finding sustainable forms of housing assistance in Story County, Iowa, with the aim of preventing homelessness.  They work with clients holistically to determine which programs offered by the state they may qualify for, and then offer help to apply for those programs.  The navigator has helped individuals apply for SNAP, CIRHA, LIHEAP, Social Security, and Medicaid, as well as rent and utility assistance through Story County General Housing Assistance.  The navigator also serves as a clearinghouse for information about job opportunities in the area, as well as other programs that they can direct clients to and offer help. They also work with various collaborations in Story County to ensure that GNEA is represented in landlord roundtables, as well as hunger, housing and transportation workgroups.

A large portion of the navigator’s time is spent in administering the Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance Program at GNEA.  Much of that job involves liaising with the Story County General Assistance Program who performs a consolidated intake, working with clients on ensuring that their applications are complete, and connecting with landlords and utility companies to ensure that they are aware that assistance will be applied to the client’s account.  This helps ensures that a client will not face late fees or be evicted, while during the application for assistance process.

The focus of the Navigator position expanded from dispute mediation to a more general homelessness prevention program. This has allowed agencies in the area to continue to work with landlords to resolve larger issues and to ensure that individuals themselves are not made homeless and can stay in their homes while assistance is being applied to their account.  The program is valued by both the tenants and the landlords.  Clients often do not get charged late fees (making it harder to pay back rent) and landlords do not have to go through the expense of evicting tenants that may eventually be able to pay rent on their own, and then re-renting the property. 

The Navigator Program has accessed $219,395 in rent and utility assistance, and has spent more than 275 hours with clients helping them fill out forms, apply for more sustainable housing, food assistance and social security and Medicare.  The navigator’s work has affected 575 households, which includes 590 children, 796 working age adults and 47 senior citizens.  Their work has ensured that people remain in their homes, keep their utilities turned on, and get into programs that help them begin to take the steps toward more security in their lives.  The Housing Navigator has been essential in upholding GNEA’s mission of homelessness prevention.