In 1987, the Associated Ministries Day of Awareness sponsored a forum called Housing the Homeless: Community Action Day. Local activists, housing providers, and government officials discussed the problem of limited housing opportunities for residents experiencing homelessness. Many of them continued to brainstorm solutions long after the forum, most of which fell outside realm of the current social safety nets. Then, in 1990, a group of these participants banded together and founded Homes First! as a legal entity that could actively create housing opportunities for people with low incomes.
Homes First! acquires and remodels homes, apartments, and duplexes, collaborates with local organizations, and works with individuals to find them affordable places to live. It currently rents 42 units to individuals and families, whose rent payments go to fund maintenance, staff oversight, and future housing projects. A three-person team conducts operations at Homes First!, ensuring that it maintains an active link to the county. Homes First! also works with other nonprofits to find homes for people with disabilities or addiction issues, and to advocate for homes for people experiencing homelessness.