Making a Difference: Providing Sustainable Housing in Larimer County

Fifty years ago a small group of neighbors in northeast Fort Collins learned that a family with several children were in danger of losing their home. Unwilling to let that happen, they came together and raised the funds needed to keep the family in their home.

 

Fifty years later, these neighbors would be surprised and delighted at the long-term results of their actions. In 2020, the Neighbor to Neighbor non-profit organization is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in Fort Collins. It has been active in Loveland for 25 years.

 

Committed to preventing homelessness any way they can, N2N is having an increasingly significant impact as housing in Northern Colorado becomes difficult to acquire and less affordable for many. In 2019, N2N made it possible for 663 families to stay in their homes and helped more than a thousand homeowners navigate often complicated issues around purchasing a home by conducting educational workshops. More than 3,000 families received budget education and counseling from N2N. In 2019 the agency averted homelessness for 1562 young people.

 

N2N owns and operates 132 affordable housing units that are fully occupied at all times. They operate a home-share program for seniors, matching them with compatible roommates. They have an emergency rent assistance program for those experiencing a temporary crisis, and also offer assistance with first month’s rent.

 

Much of the success of this organization results from the enthusiasm, concern, and knowledge of its executive director, staff, and volunteers. At a recent open house at N2N headquarters, 1550 Blue Spruce in Fort Collins, their positive attitudes and “We’ll make it work.” outlook was on display.

Neighbor to Neighbor Executive Director Kelly Evans, Resident Services Manager Stephanie Alley, Home Ownership Adviser, Miranda Minton

Executive director Kelly Evans found N2N when she searched for an organization that was addressing basic human needs. A social welfare graduate of the University of Kansas, she joined N2N with experience in an adoption agency and as executive director of a home health care agency dealing with older adults and people with special needs.

 

“I was looking for a new challenge,” she said. “N2N is a great fit for me. We’ve had exciting growth, the spectrum of services keeps things interesting, and the impact of providing access to a stable home is profound.”

 

There are several volunteer opportunities available at N2N, from simply contributing funds to providing a truck and a bit of physical labor to haul furniture.  Or donate a household item you no longer need. Vacuum cleaners are always in demand. One of the easiest and most fun ways to help out is to sponsor a rent party. These first became popular during the Depression years when friends gathered to help people in need.

 

It works like this: Give a party. It could be anything from a fancy dinner to an outdoor barbecue or simply drinks, snacks, and chit chat. Let invitees know that you are throwing this event for N2N and gently suggest a donation amount—perhaps $25. Evans explains that results are better when guests know why they have been invited and are given a suggested donation amount. “We average about $900 an event,” Evans said.

N2N addresses housing, one of the most basic human needs, and they do it with a smile.

For more information about Neighbor to Neighbor, go to their website at n2n.org

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