The City of Columbus sees the COMPASS program as a bright star. Here’s why: you may remember news that substandard housing at Colonial Village in Whitehall meant that 500+ households were without heat and running water. These folks now occupy 538 hotel rooms across the city of Columbus. But the clock is ticking. By the end of March, they have to relocate again, into rental housing. Who will help them make this next move?
Recently, the City of Columbus reached out to the COMPASS program here at BSPC, for help in filling out essential paperwork to apply for rental assistance. COMPASS’ staff of three, Pat Scott, Renee Minor and DeAnna Hall are working hard to help Colonial Village’s Haitian applicants apply for rental assistance. On Christmas Day Pat’s son helped her use AI to put together an application in Haitian. When Pat receives responses in Haitian, she uses Google translate to process peoples’ information.
Early on in working with her new clients, Pat tried speaking the classic French she had learned in school. She recounts how they dissolved in laughter upon hearing her speak, which made her burst out laughing as well. It was a bonding moment in their common humanity.
One by one, COMPASS is helping Haitian families secure federal ERA (Emergency Rental Assistance) funds. It’s a tremendous amount of work. When they realized the scope and magnitude of this task, Pat told the City that they needed help. COMPASS has been promised another staff person as well as an interpreter.
Pat chuckles and says, “We’ll get it done.” For sanity’s sake, staff has covenanted to stop their workdays at a reasonable hour. They recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. They still find moments to laugh and joke together.
The City of Columbus is particularly impressed by the consistent follow-through by COMPASS staff. Recently, a Haitian man visited Broad Street on a Sunday morning, so he could see the church that had helped him and his family.
During this season of Epiphany, we remember the light that shines in the darkness. Here in Columbus COMPASS shines bright, doing their part to offer hope and a new start.
-Blog by Rev. Ann Palmerton
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