Home Address Initiative Opens New Doors
“My first Home Address meeting, I found myself sitting in a circle looking at a rock,” laughs Cathy Evans, Executive Director of the Lemmon Housing Authority.
“I was very intimidated and uncomfortable. I am a back row, last chair kind of person. So sitting in a circle talking to a group was hard. But, by the third meeting I was totally comfortable. Now I conduct all my own meetings in a circle!”
Cathy began her journey with Home Address in 2012, and while she admits to initial fears, she now realizes that being pushed out of her comfort zone was a path to her personal growth.
“Each time I met with the Home Address group, I found we all had an equal voice and no idea was a bad idea,” she says. “I met wonderful people from other communities that have the same housing issues we face in Lemmon. Thanks to this experience, I feel like I am not as afraid to ask questions or contact people, and I am doing things I never imagined I would do.”
Through Home Address, Cathy says she also learned to ask the right questions, talk to the right people and take time upfront before diving into a project. She credits the Home Address “iceberg” process for helping her slow down and not rush from point A to point B.
“Every time they put that iceberg up in a meeting, I would just groan inside,” she remembers. “Then our team got to the point where we started moving and I saw how all that upfront planning was so pertinent to the bigger picture. Instead of spinning wheels, we were actually making progress. It was like a light bulb went on for me.”
Some of the progress Lemmon has seen through the help of Home Address and the Lemmon Housing Authority include helping residents apply for funds through NeighborWorks to make their homes safe and insurable. They were able to partner with South Dakota Housing, utilizing Housing Authority Funds for the purchase and repair of six homes. The community is also working towards building an eight-unit apartment complex. Cathy says without the Home Address gatherings, she would not have met the resource providers face-to-face.
“Home Address opened our eyes to the availability of grant money through South Dakota Housing, and we were able to apply for funds for a housing study. The results of that study spurred us into action and we’ve recruited a lot of locals to come on board,” she says.
When asked about the most important thing she has gained from her relationship with Dakota Resources and her involvement with Home Address, Cathy says it was a motto they taught her.
“People lead to people,” she says. “I like that a lot. It is amazing how doors open up when you have the right connections.”
Home Address Site Most Recent Annual Impacts:
- 430 Citizens engaged in town hall conversations
- 23 Citizen-led initiatives started or completed
- 60 New or improved homes
- 16 Dilapidated properties cleared for development
- 8 New lots open for development
- 115 Houses sold or for sale