People of Housing Security:
Housing Stability Coordinator for South Central Community Action Program helps residents stay in their homes.
Mindy Caron’s job title is a clear description of her work. As Housing Stability Coordinator for the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP), she helps residents stay in their homes or find a secure place to live.
Mindy joined SCCAP last summer in this newly created job. It is funded in part through federal COVID dollars that flow through the Indiana Community Action Association and the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, which administers the Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance (IERA) program.
“The need was absolutely overwhelming” for rental assistance, Mindy said, “and there were absolutely not enough people to address that need.”
Earlier this year, the state started a pilot program to use Community Action Programs like SCCAP as the conduit to file for emergency rental assistance on behalf of residents. Since March, Mindy has filed over 100 applications.
Mindy mostly works with people who already have housing as renters. As another part of her job, she meets with families “of any variety” to work on their personal goals, she explained, using a family development matrix to evaluate their needs. That might include budget management and establishing long-term goals. She’s currently working with six households, including one person who had experienced homelessness for about a decade before recently finding housing.
In the future, her work likely will include helping SCCAP grow its housing choice voucher program.
It’s rewarding to help people “reach for their dreams,” Mindy said. She works hard to bring resources to the table and assist people in any way she can. And she sometimes gets to deliver good news. Recently a single mother lost her job and was in dire straits, and Mindy successfully helped her get rental assistance.
No single person or agency can solve the problem of housing stability, Mindy noted. “Everybody is needed to move us all forward. We can’t forget about people who are struggling right now. There is no difference between those people who are having a hard time in their life right now and me or anybody else.”
Affordable housing options are key, Mindy said, especially because the gap between wages and housing costs is severe. “People are not the problem,” she added. The most vulnerable households are single parents or people over 55 years old with a disability. “If one thing goes wrong, the whole system can break right away. There’s a lot of households living in that fragile environment.”
“If one thing goes wrong, the whole system can break right away. There’s a lot of households living in that fragile environment.”Mindy Caron, South Central Community Action Program
Mindy has worked for several decades in the field of addiction and recovery, with jobs in social service agencies and private industry. She got her start working for a mental health center in Bloomington (now Centerstone). She worked for Amethyst House for seven years, then spent much of her career with a local psychologist who developed psychological tests for addictions.
She also served for a year as executive director for Stepping Stones, a program for homeless youth, before Centerstone stepped in to run it.
About three years ago, Mindy moved to Massachusetts to help her mother, who lived there. She initially worked for a program for women in recovery who were pregnant or had infants, and then for a shelter for women with young children.
But she missed her circle of friends in Bloomington, and moved back here in 2021. The community here has “such lovely people,” she said.
Mindy is a quilter and a knitter. Her partner, Michael Leake, dyes fabric and “keeps me supplied,” she laughed. She has two grown children: a son who works at Purdue University, and a daughter and granddaughter who live in Portland, Oregon. She hasn’t seen her daughter and granddaughter since before the pandemic, and is excited that they’re visiting her in July.
Mindy is thankful for that, and for the supportive staff at SCCAP. “This is the nicest group of people I have ever worked with,” she said. As tangible proof of that support, Mindy pointed to a loaf of still-warm sourdough bread, freshly baked by SCCAP Executive Director Eddy Riou Jr. “I almost cried at the beauty of it.”
About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.