February 19th, 2013

 

Dear Members of the Joint Finance Committee:

 

On behalf of the board members, volunteers, staff and especially the families served by Family Promise of Northern New Castle County, thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.

 

Family Promise provides homeless families with shelter and food while assisting them in obtaining gainful employment and permanent housing.  Our temporary shelter the vehicle used to help families move into permanent housing; our success is not based solely on how many families we shelter, but by how many families we help regain independence and stable housing. We support over 80% of our families to achieve permanent housing in an average of 69 days.

 

There are a number of factors which make Family Promise unique from a traditional shelter model:

 

  • We keep families together, rather than specifically serving only certain genders or family composition. We will not break up families or place age restrictions on children.
  • Over 750 volunteers and 29 congregations have committed to our mission. We rely on volunteers and donations to directly house the families in houses of worship.  This, in turn leverages grant support, turning every dollar donated into over two dollars of program impact.
  • We collaborate with multiple entities including Lutheran Community Services, Jewish Family Services, other homelessness providers, school districts, Homeless Planning Council, Stand By Me, Ecumenical Council on Families and Children, and a network of private landlords.
  • We provide case management to graduate families from the program for up to one year post-transition. It is critical to ensure families remain stable through ongoing case management once the families move to permanent housing.

 

We are so appreciative for the opportunity to apply to the RFP for Emergency/ Shelter Operations Grant that is currently open and due this Friday, February 22nd, 2012.  This grant will be leveraged by our in-kind donations, use of volunteers and our current grant for rapid rehousing direct financial assistance via New Castle County. We are confident that there is great synergy between our successful model and the goals of the State of Delaware.

 

Since we started new housing-first initiatives at the end of 2012, we supported seven families (23 individuals) to move into permanent housing, shortening their length of stay in the shelter by an average of 20-30 days.  All seven families had the rent negotiated, security deposit covered and/or partial rental payments for a time-limited period.  It should be noted that three of the seven families secured housing within 30 days of moving into Family Promise – the “gold standard” for homelessness organizations[1].  The success of these initiatives is due in part to maintaining positive relationships with landlord providers.

 

 

I would like to share a couple of examples of families we moved to independent living:

 

Chloe and her eight year old son secured housing within 30 days of entering Family Promise through a landlord contact that worked with her eviction history and temporarily reduced rent.  Family Promise offset the cost of the security deposit and provided furniture so that her son has a stable place to call home.  Chloe unfortunately lost her job shortly after moving into the apartment.  Through our continued support, we were able to offset the rent for a temporary period until she found steady work again.  Had it not been for continued case management and financial assistance, we are unfortunately confident she would have returned to homelessness; Chloe had been chronically homeless, spending the past 18 months prior to Family Promise bouncing between multiple shelters and uninhabitable locations.

 

Scott and his family fell into homelessness when both were laid off from their jobs due to missing too much work as the result of their son’s health issues.  The son, often hospitalized, needed surgeries every few months.  The family was separated between different shelters; his partner went with the children to a shelter and he bounced around.   During their time at Family Promise, both parents secured part-time employment at a rest stop, serving fast food for $8.00 at all hours of the evening.  When, Scott’s car broke down, he would work until 2am and wait until the first bus came around 6am to return home.  He worked hard, but financially, it was not enough.

 

Scott wanted to pursue a career in truck driving but with family obligations, he did not see a way to do it. Family Promise saw Scott’s potential and how a little investment could make a world of difference. Our Pathway to a Career program covered living expenses while John attended trucking school. We partnered with the State Department of Labor, who graciously covered his tuition.  Scott secured his Commercial Driving License (CDL) and is employed with a reputable trucking company.  His starting annual salary is approximately $52,000.  The state will recoup the costs of the training within six months.  This family has gained a level of independence that makes it unlikely they will ever return to homelessness.

 

With additional funding such as that respectfully requested from the current RFP, we are confident we can move more families into their own housing, and do it in the shortest amount of time possible.

 

Thank you for your time. If you would like additional information regarding Family Promise NNCC, please do not hesitate to contact me at (302) 998-2222 or carolyn.gordon@familypromisede.org.

 

With Purpose,

Carolyn Gordon

Executive Director, Family Promise of Northern New Castle County

 

 

[1] Delaware Homeless Planning Council www.hpcdelaware.org

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