JANESVILLE — Funding from United Way Blackhawk Region to support ECHO’s homeless prevention programs was announced today.

Funding for the ECHOWAY Program and the two Housing Navigator positions, totaling $360,000 runs through June 2025.

ECHO said is extremely grateful to have the continued support of United Way Blackhawk Region and its donors as they continue their work to serve and support Rock County’s most-vulnerable populations, according to a news release.

ECHOWAY was established with ECHO’s first United Way funds in 2012, and is a housing program, serving Rock County low-income people who are experiencing homelessness, or are at immediate risk of homelessness.

They may be in ECHO’s lodging program, at local shelters, living in a car, temporarily living with someone, or may have received a 5-day notice. They must be willing to work to improve their situation by participating in case management.

ECHO case managers help them work on budgeting, employment and education issues, and address other barriers to self-sufficiency.

Seeing their case manager weekly while in lodging and at least monthly for rent assistance, they may receive security deposit, single or multiple-month rent, utility assistance and other wrap-around services.

The United Way grant funds will be used for direct housing-related assistance for low-income people in Rock County, not just in the Janesville area.

None of the funds will be used for staffing or operating costs.

The funds will be used to pay: security deposits; single- or multiple-month rent (usually multiple) ; utility assistance, including paying past bills if required to get the utilities turn on in the new apartment; and other direct costs related to stabilizing housing. The security deposit and rent funds go directly to the landlords or management companies, on the client’s behalf.

Utility and other assistance go directly to the vendors, such as Alliant Energy.

ECHO also uses other grants, as well as ECHO Donated Funds to get people out of homelessness and into stable housing.

The Housing Navigator position was established in July 2019 with United Way funds and expanded to include a second position in 2022.

The Housing Navigators assists homeless households with accessing permanent housing and consults with local service providers to identify appropriate housing opportunities for clients.

The Housing Navigators also:

Conducts outreach and recruitment of local landlords to inform them of the local service providers housing programs including but not limited to Rapid Re-Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing.

Are responsible for providing client support, mentoring, and assistance with the navigation of community resources and services in the interest of aiding clients to progress toward greater self-sufficiency.

Conduct assessment to determine clients’ housing barriers, needs, and preferences to develop an action plan to secure housing. Assist client with housing search mainly by contacting landlords and scheduling showings, but also by providing leads to clients and coaching clients on how to speak with potential landlords.