Most of us have easy access to and the means to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, which is fortunate because they contain important vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients. We know that a diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments.
Unfortunately, low-income households do not always have the means to add these healthy options to their diets. As a result, their consumption of fruits and vegetables are often far below the daily recommendations for adults and children. Many factors create this disparity, most especially access, availability and cost. For many, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is just too high for their budget. Others may have to walk or ride the bus to get groceries, so they scrape by on the bare minimums. For yet others, the only stores nearby are convenience stores, so they have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Therefore, while most of us take a trip to a well-stocked grocery store for granted, for many Tucsonans that is a luxury.
The lack of consumption is affected by many factors, including access, availability, cost, convenience, and perishability. Cost is of higher importance to low-income Americans than the rest of the population and they buy only what they can afford. This does have a negative effect on the health of low-income adults and children. While most of us take a trip to the grocery store for granted, for many low-income Tucson residents, purchasing fresh broccoli or a head of lettuce can mean a half-day journey or, sometimes, may not even be possible at all.
Our solution at Compass Affordable Housing (CAH) was to bring the market to our tenants and implement Your Healthy Home Market (YHHM), where up to 3,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables and other perishables are delivered to tenants every month. Under the program, we deliver fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, proteins, beans and other fresh food directly to tenants living in our low-cost apartment communities where tenant volunteers run a “market” to distribute the food at no cost to them. Tenants also unload trucks, set up the market, handle distribution and clean up afterward. In addition to weekly deliveries, the market is supplemented by produce from the large vegetable garden located at Compass Affordable Housing’s Alvord Court Apartments, which provides housing for persons with a variety of physical and mental disabilities.
Each “Market Day” YHHM opens with a class taught by a nutritionist or specialist who talks with residents about preparing and storing produce, monthly budgeting, food and health, cooking techniques, food combining, meal planning, and recipes. After the class, tenants then “shop” for food.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market had to close temporarily, but the vegetables did not go to waste. Instead, CAH staff delivered food door-to-door to CAH tenants and started delivering to other agencies needing food. Produce not distributed to CAH tenants was delivered to local not-for-profit homeless shelters, street outreach centers, a local soup kitchen and a school for homeless youth. We continue to make these deliveries.
Over 52% of CAH tenants actively participate in Your Healthy Home Market. In addition to fighting hunger and bringing healthy food close to home, tenants volunteer in other CAH services as well. Twenty two percent have completed financial literacy, employment and/or public benefit support activities, 25.5% received other support services and referrals and 20.1% volunteered for other community activities. Since starting YHHM CAH has observed increased tenant involvement in program/social activities/events, volunteering, and social engagement. The business center and employment readiness services were also more widely utilized.
Although the food is free to low-income households, we do incur expenses for food, transportation, drivers, supplies and oversight. Compass Affordable Housing depends upon private donations to support Your Healthy Home Market and its operations.
Please donate today! Your summer donation to Compass Affordable Housing’s Your Healthy Home Market is tax deductible and it does so much more than help with expenses, it feeds people. That is what is important and I thank you for help.
Maryann Beerling, CEO
Our Contact Information:
Compass Affordable Housing, Inc.
48 N Tucson Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85716
Our June 2021 Newsletter is now available.
Your Healthy Home Market (YHHM) is a volunteer and tenant run market that enables low-income households to increase food security, access nutritious food, improve diets, and learn about dietary habits that affect their well-being. Typically, three times each month Your Healthy Home Market delivers 800-2,000 pounds of fresh food (each time) that includes proteins, vegetables, grains, fruits, breads, plants and herbs, and harvested produce from the Alvord Court Community Garden. Local partners provide educational sessions that range from learning about produce, budgeting for food, food and health, cooking techniques, etc. After the mandatory class, low-income tenants and low-income community members “shop” for food at no cost to them. The frequency of our tenant’s participation has been well over 500 times per year.
While COVID-19 prevents the regular YHHM programming, having nutritious food has become even more important for low-income households. YHHM continues to operate during the pandemic, supplying food to tenants at each location who rely upon the Market to supplement their food supplies. Additionally, knowing that food scarcity is pressuring other service organizations as well, YHHM now also delivers to community partners who are also challenged with serving people in need during the pandemic.
Along with CAH-owned housing units, during COVID-19, YHHM’s broad reach includes:
• Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, serving the poor and homeless in South Tucson;
• Community Partners, Inc. food for low-income and formerly homeless persons with mental illness;
• Tucson Preparatory High School, serving low-income youth;
• Crossroads Adult Care Homes, serving food for frail and elderly adults in assisted living;
• Pima County Street Outreach to homeless persons, and
• Sister Jose Women’s Center, serving homeless women in shelter.
YHHM is bridging the need for healthy, fresh, nutritious food within its housing communities and in targeted sites in the community serving those most in need.
Last fall, Compass Affordable Housing worked with Pima County and the Community Investment Corporation to distribute millions in CARES Act funds to prevent household evictions due to COVID-19 related issues. People like Mike, whose wife was suffering from stage-4 cancer when the pandemic began; Roberto, the teacher who unexpectedly found himself teaching his middle school students virtually from his car in a WalMart parking lot; or Jennifer, the single mom who lost her job serving at a restaurant. The program ended in November 2020, however the need continues.
In March, 2021, nearly 5,000 people in Tucson and Pima County indicate they are now at risk for eviction due to COVID-19 related issues. Compass Affordable Housing is poised again to work with renters and landlords to distribute additional funds to prevent an explosion of area evictions.
We are proud to partner with City of Tucson, Pima County and Community Investment Corporation in this second round of support. If you or someone you know is facing the possibility of eviction due to the impact of COVID-19, please pass this information to them. As indicated on the flyer at the left, individuals should contact www.TucsonPimaEP.com or call 831-292-4308 for full information.
Sandy entered Compass Affordable Housing’s (CAH) Community Housing program in March of 2019. Prior to entering Community Housing, Sandy and her partner were homeless, which is the criteria for all the households served by the program. Upon acceptance in the Community Housing program, formerly homeless participants and CAH staff work together for at least six months while the family stabilizes financially. During that window of time, they meet regularly with CAH staff, obtain employment, create a household budget, begin to pay down debts, and hopefully start a savings account.
Sandy had tried to support herself and her partner on her small SSDI income. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which significantly affects her mobility, she also struggled with depression and anxiety. Her partner also had significant health issues, which affected Sandy’s stability too.
Despite all this, Sandy worked hard and excelled with the help of CAH Community Housing and her case manager, Kristy. While in the program, Sandy realized that her relationship was unhealthy and decided to end things with her partner. She developed a sense of self-worth as she met her goals. She saved enough money to pay her rent and expenses and Sandy successfully exited the program in four months with savings of $550! When CAH contacted her recently, she declared that she could not be happier! Sandy has even started her own home bakery business and is living independently.
Stabilizing lives, realizing goals and living independently is the focus we set for each Community Housing participant at Compass Affordable Housing. We work to help people recapture their lives, put them back together and live as productive, contributing members of our community. Your support is essential to this process! Without you, people like Sandy would not find the way to happiness and independence. We are grateful for your support!
This holiday season, we have two easy ways for you to support Compass Affordable Housing and shop safely for the holidays. The first is an online auction fundraiser – Home for the Holidays Online Auction. The auction opens the day after Thanksgiving (11/27) at noon and runs through December 11th.
The second way you can support our work at Compass Affordable Housing is by purchasing raffle tickets for the Jim Click Millions for Tucson Raffle – 1 ticket for $25 OR 4 tickets for $100 and GET A 5TH TICKET FREE – for a chance to win a 2020 Ford F-150 Platinum as the Grand Prize! All proceeds from the sale of tickets purchased here will go directly to Compass Affordable Housing to help people find and keep stable homes and become contributing members of our community.
This year, Mr. Click is again offering a second and third prize; the second prize is two (2) round-trip, first-class airline tickets to anywhere in the world (some restrictions apply) and the third prize is $5,000 cash. Winners will be announced by Jim Click Automotive Team on December 11, 2020.
When Keith’s landlord reached out to Compass Affordable Housing (CAH) for help, Keith was several months behind on rent. At the same time, Keith’s fiancé, Mary, was in the late stages of cancer and living at home. Never one to fall behind on rent, when the COVID -19 became a pandemic Keith was terrified he would bring the virus home to her and cause a devastating setback to her health. Unable to make changes with his employer, COVID-19 forced him to quit his job. Getting Mary to doctor appointments and treatments required that Keith invest in special protective gear that used up funds.
Just recently, the last of Keith’s money went to secure Hospice care for Mary. There was nothing left for rent. Keith was referred by his landlord to the Compass Affordable Housing Eviction Prevention Program. CAH assists people like Keith with rent so they do not lose their housing. The assistance we provide covers past due rent and pays rent for an additional month while households look for new employment and get back on their feet. Low-income people usually live paycheck to paycheck. The consequences of COVID-19 on their employment has forced many into arrears and without income, thereby making them vulnerable to becoming homeless.
One of the biggest concerns of Tucson community leaders during the pandemic has been the potential for hundreds of families and individuals to be evicted because of Covid-19. A city with hundreds of people left without housing, compounded by both financial and psychological effects of housing lost during a pandemic, creates nightmares at many levels. Moratoriums, while essential, merely buy time for the ultimate reckoning, as frustrated landlords look for ways to remove tenants unable to pay their rent because they were permanently furloughed, forced to quarantine or were needed to care for another, like Keith.
Each of the situations we work with has at least two faces behind it – that of a tenant struggling to pay and that of a landlord on the line for expenses. We are happy to report that we have assisted Keith and many others and continue to do that. However, these households are also without food, school supplies, needed household items and have past due utilities. They need additional help to stabilize. Compass Affordable Housing is working on this too. With your help we can assist the whole family.
To help, check out our upcoming Home for the Holidays online auction! The bidding runs from November 27 through December 11, 2020, but you can preview the auction now and keep checking in as we continue to add more items through Thanksgiving. https://cahi.betterworld.org/auctions/home-holidays. Call us at 520-305-4724 if you have questions or want more information.
“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” Gertrude Stein
Compass Affordable Housing, like many local nonprofits, has experienced overwhelming challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to continue to provide quality affordable housing and support services for our tenants and participants, we have reached out to local foundations who are providing flexible resources to nonprofit organizations in southern Arizona serving individuals and families impacted by this outbreak. We would like to thank the following foundations for their generous support during these trying times.
THANK YOU SUNDT FOUNDATION!!! We are so grateful to the generous people at the Sundt Foundation – and our very own Sundt Construction, Inc. here in Tucson – for their grant award in support of housing stability services to residents at Compass Affordable Housing!
We’re grateful for first-time support from the Mulcahy Foundation, housed within the Tucson Foundations, for helping us stabilize low income and homeless individuals and families in quality housing during the Covid-19 pandemic. John A. “Jack” Mulcahy was a local businessman who owned and operated the Mulcahy Lumber Company, established in 1925. He was a civic leader and served on many nonprofit boards.
The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has taken action to help people during COVID that is remarkable and significant. They are literally helping hundreds and hundreds of people, including children and the most vulnerable. We are honored to have been considered and selected for funding. What CFSA is doing is commendable. This is what community leadership looks like!
In order to observe social distancing, we had to suspend Your Healthy Home Market* temporarily. During this time, we are delivering the food typically distributed on market day door-to-door to tenants and to a local soup kitchen and a women’s shelter that are feeding many people needing nutritious food.
*What is the Your Healthy Home Market?
The Your Healthy Home Market (YHHM) is an exciting monthly event that gives tenants access to healthy produce, grains, protein and herbs. As part of each YHHM, we offer nutrition classes that teach tenants how to plan a healthier diet, shop and stretch their food budgets, store and cook fresh produce, enjoy easy, healthy exercise, etc. At the end of each monthly nutrition class, our tenants “shop” for free, healthy food at the market.