The final returns from the 2015 Family Promise national census are in and the results are eye-opening. Last year, Family Promise Affiliates and our 180,000 volunteers helped more homeless and at-risk families than ever before—nearly 58,000 served nationwide. Inspirational, to be sure, that so many compassionate individuals are eager and able to make a difference in the lives of families in need.
But the numbers also illustrate the continuing critical need for services in communities of all types—inner city neighborhoods, suburban towns and rural villages. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, some 2.5 million children—one in every 30 children in America—experience homelessness during the year.
In response to this ongoing crisis, Family Promise opened 16 new Affiliates across the country in 2015—from Skagit Valley, Washington to Hendricks County, Indiana to Concord, New Hampshire—bringing our total by year’s end to 199 Affiliates in 42 states. Not only did we open the most Affiliates we ever have in a single year, we lowered our average length of stay for families to 60 days.
59% of the guests we served were children, with nearly four in 10 of those under the age of six. It’s so critical for young children to experience security and stability in their daily lives. Moving families efficiently from homelessness to housing is perhaps the most important gift we can give these children. Last year, 74% of the families we served secured permanent or transitional housing upon exiting the program, with another 12% moving into stable, shared housing.
28% of families served were made up of two parents and 63% were single parent, headed by females. Single parent families headed by dads are a demographic that is underreported and underappreciated but our census shows that almost 7% of the families passing through our program in 2015 were headed by single males. There often is no existing option other than Family Promise to serve single fathers with their children.
Although our core program provides shelter and meals for homeless families, our Affiliates’ services extend far beyond the 13,320 individuals who received hospitality last year. 44,307 additional parents and children received assistance of some type from Family Promise Affiliates, including graduate support services like financial literacy programs, job training, transportation assistance, furniture donation, parenting classes and summer camp programs for children, to name a few. Affiliates also addressed at-risk families with homelessness prevention and rapid-rehousing programs, helping prevent families from becoming homeless in the first place.
2015 was an extraordinary year for Family Promise. We transitioned to new leadership, opened a record number of Affiliates and achieved new levels of efficiency in serving our families. Based on all that we accomplished together last year, the path ahead seems clear and the future looks bright.