Family Promise works to provide a comprehensive, holistic solution for families facing homelessness. Families come to us in crisis; our approach of coordinated compassion helps them rebuild their lives with new skills and ongoing support.
Emergency Housing Solutions
The typical day for a family in our shelter goes something like this: they start their morning early, often waking up at 6:00 in order to get kids ready, eat breakfast, and be out of the church by 7:00. Parents will often head back to the Day Center so that kids can catch their school bus on time. After that, parents will travel to work or stay at the Day Center to work with our case management team and search for jobs and housing. They also may have multiple appointments throughout the day, often using the shelter van for transportation. Parents generally make their way back to the Day Center by 3:30 to get kids off their school bus and ready them for the transition to the church. By 5:00, they are heading to the host church for a warm welcome, a meal, and some time to rest.
When a family joins our shelter program, they must quickly adjust to life in the Network. They balance work and school schedules with case management appointments and meals at the church, all while searching for housing. They are able to do this with the support of our host and supporting congregations and the people who volunteer over 18,500 hours annually. By having such a large network of dedicated volunteers, families are enveloped by caring, positive individuals working tirelessly to ensure they always feel at home.
If a family is literally homeless (living in a car, hotel, street, emergency shelter, etc), then our Rapid-Rehousing program can help.
Rapid re-housing provides the payment of the security deposit and first month's rent as well as follow-up case management. The goals are to help people obtain housing quickly, increase self- sufficiency and stay housed. It is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of a criminal record, or sobriety) except for being literally homeless, and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the needs of the person.
If a family living paycheck to paycheck suffers a major illness, car accident, or job loss, it can immediately destabilize their housing and security. Without one-time financial help, they will be unable to pay their rent, ultimately resulting in eviction and the forced loss of their home. The cost of a single intervention to keep a family in their home is significantly less than the cost of rehousing them. In addition to the financial cost, the destabilization caused by losing a home can be traumatic for both children and adults. Losing their home can have a negative impact on children’s educational outcomes and mental health.
Once a family becomes homeless, rehousing them becomes more difficult. If a family receives an eviction for not paying their rent, it will be on their record, making future landlords less likely to rent to them. They may end up owing large sums of money for legal and lease-breaking fees. Not having a home can also make keeping a stable job and income much more difficult. By stepping in and preventing the loss of a home, we can keep families safe and ensure that kids continue to wake up in their own beds.
Adults chatting, the delicious smell of warm food, children shrieking in delight — this is the backdrop for evenings at the hosting churches. We here at the Day Center get this pleasure of helping our shelter guests with life skills.
Our families learn about topics covering budgeting, job skills, time management, basic parenting skills, and others. These self-sufficiency skills provide our families with tools and strategies to manage daily life.
During their time at the shelter, parents and kids alike are driven toward one goal: getting into their own home. “I can’t wait until I have my own room,” is a common refrain. “I’m going to be so excited to sleep in!” say teenagers. But as the move-out date nears, anxiety can also set in. Parents worry about what will happen if they fall on hard times again without the safety net of staff and volunteers supporting and encouraging them. They are often surprised and heartened to learn that leaving the program doesn’t have to mean goodbye.
The aftercare program enables us to keep in touch with families during the critical period between exiting the program and becoming established in the community. While families build friendships with neighbors, find a church to attend, get involved in after-school activities, and adjust to new routines, we are available to connect them with resources, help problem-solve issues that arise, and be a friend for the bumps in the road. We know our open-door culture has an impact because families often swing by years later to donate clothes, introduce us to their new babies, or refer a friend in need. No family needs to feel that they are alone — this is our promise.