Programs to Guide You Home.
Meeting You Where You Are on the Journey Home
Rising prices and a competitive market have made homeownership even harder to attain, prolonging a process that already takes years for many.
These factors also continue to deepen the pool of people in need. Recognizing that buying a home is based on the individual situation, DreamKey Partners is able to meet individuals where they were, growing the organization’s reach far beyond Charlotte.
This included virtual programs like the Renter Advantage Program, which provides debt counseling for renters, and other national programs. DreamKey also collaborated with Atrium Health on a pilot program called Help Now. This initiative was spurred by an internal survey that proved to be eye-opening for the health system’s leadership. The survey showed that Atrium Health teammates were experiencing challenges with immediate social needs including housing.
“This was a point of evolution for us because working virtual was something we were not accustomed to at all,” said Altrea Wilson, vice president of programs. Altrea, who has been with the organization for 25 years, notes that this evolution also brought along opportunities to engage in larger programs that helped expand the footprint.
Nearly one-third of the 85 employees surveyed expressed concern about losing their housing and a small percentage had been unhoused in 2020.
“We looked at the results and thought, this is unacceptable,” said Don Jonas, assistant vice president for social strategy and impact for Atrium Health. “We started looking at housing partners to discuss how we can provide relevant resources and DreamKey Partners was top of mind because they’re the best at what they do.”
Other key findings included that nearly 80 percent of the employees wanted to purchase a home, yet 90 percent had never had any imperative financial education, like how to create a budget. DreamKey worked with Atrium to provide a three-class financial empowerment course for Atrium Health employees in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Counseling was also offered through the pilot program, which allowed employees to work one-on-one with DreamKey financial counselors.
“The Help Now offerings were a condensed version of our services, and while our customers can engage with our programs on their own terms, our education, counseling and down payment assistance are inextricably linked,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of economic opportunity.