Staff Spotlight: Housing Stability Specialist

In this staff spotlight, we interview Kevin. He has been working at Impact since 2018: first as an Employment Specialist, and now as a Housing Stability Specialist. The Housing Stability Specialist works with participants and housing partners to ensure that are able to stay successfully housed.

How did you first become interested in work at Impact?
I was looking for a job in social work. I was originally hired as an Employment Specialist, but it’s been 3 years with the Housing team now.

I wanted to get more experience in social work field, but I didn’t want to leave the agency. Impact is doing good stuff and headed in the right direction, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Can you tell me what a typical workday looks like for you?
Going through emails from anything I missed—from participants and staff and folks from other agencies. I get a lot of calls from people who aren’t in our housing, but need some resources on what is available to them. Housing is a big need right now. I’m always getting calls from people who want to talk about what’s available for them. I can’t offer them an apartment right them, but I can and connect them with the right resources.

Right now, it’s lease time, so I’m completing a lot of leases and renewals. Maybe I’m doing a lease with a person who doesn’t have any income, so that looks different in terms of the documentation I need to collect.

I’ve been doing interviews for our shared housing units with our Intake Coordinator—trying to figure out if they are an appropriate fit for our program, and the apartment or roommate spot we are trying to fill.

Sometimes I have to do eviction prevention meetings—if a participant is not following our policies. We try to make sure they don’t lose their housing.

If a participant is not answering their phone and not engaging with anyone else, I try to reach out and make sure their housing is stable and they’re not putting their housing at risk.

I do a lot of housing inspections—we’re looking for maintenance issues and safety hazards. I also do some maintenance work myself—fixing a toilet, tightening faucet heads, changing locks, trying to figure out what’s going on.

What are some common challenges that participants experience?
Rent is so high, folks just don’t meet income requirements based on where they’re looking to live. They could maybe find a cheap apartment, far away in a bad neighborhood. They’re trying to keep their kids or themselves in that neighborhood to stay in a school or close to work, but they’re just nothing affordable.

Can you give me an example of a recent success story?
Anytime someone gets housed. Whether that’s finding a roommate, or coming from one of our referral partners, that’s a big success. People are either homeless, or about to be homeless. It feels good to make that happen for them. They feel safe, and warm. Because we’re a housing first agency, if folks have a stable place to live, that will trickle down and help everything. I’m helping someone right now who’s in a really rough place—once we’re able to get her housed, she won’t have to worry about how she’s going to pay rent when she doesn’t have any income, and she can start to work on other challenges she is experiencing.

What do you think participants would like the larger community to know about them and their lives?
Regardless of where they came from or what they’ve experienced, they’re people too. They shouldn’t be shunned and separated from the rest of society. Neighbors can view people with mental illness as a headache. But thankfully we have a team that really knows what they’re doing and do their best to make sure our housing participants are in a better situation.

A lot of folks have the idea of mental illness that it’s just people screaming and banging on the walls. It’s not. They’re just people who struggle with feeling motivated, feeling hopeful, and feeling wanted and happy.

Kevin Zepeda Headshot