The Affordable Housing Network, Inc. (AHNI) works to increase sustainable, affordable housing in both Linn and Dubuque counties. FY21 saw an expansion of these efforts in Dubuque, when AHNI took ownership of and implemented a plan to rehabilitate Bishop’s Block, a 32-unit affordable housing property. The project expands upon the goal AHNI began in 2019 to rehab five Dubuque houses per year through 2024 and make those affordable homes available to low- and moderate-income residents.
To ensure vulnerable individuals have the resources and support they need to maintain stable housing, the Four Oaks Enterprise coordinates affordable housing with intensive case management services. Brigitte Connolly, a Supportive Housing Coordinator and Tenant Relations Specialist, has an office in Bishop’s Block, which helps her meet the needs of a diverse population, including seniors, families with children, and people with disabilities.
For Michael, a Bishop’s Block tenant who is legally blind, this meant helping connect him to employment.
“I tried to get a job but I felt like a lot of people just kind of shut the door on me and didn’t give me a chance because of my disability, not knowing what skills I could bring to the table,” Michael said.
Brigitte, however, was impressed by Michael’s commitment to helping other tenants and ensuring the building stays safe and comfortable for everyone. She connected him to a position with AHNI that provides a stipend—and experience.
“Michael assists the maintenance staff, including cleaning common spaces and taking out the trash,” Brigitte said. Michael has gone on to land two other jobs with businesses in the community.
“I want to say thank you to Brigitte for giving me a chance at this job,” Michael said. “I enjoy helping with the upkeep of the property because this is my home.”