Family Promise Awarded $500,000 from Gerstner Philanthropies to Strengthen Shelter Diversion Practice

February 3, 2022

Gerstner Philanthropies has awarded $500,000 to Family Promise through its Helping Hands program. The 2022 Helping Hands Grant will enable Family Promise Affiliates to provide direct assistance to families with an urgent, emergency need so they can remain housed and avoid shelter while working towards a permanent housing solution.  

This new partnership will help address the growing number of families who are in unstable housing situations. Nationwide, a severe lack of housing stock, in urban centers and rural communities alike, means there are fewer available housing options for families that are safe and affordable. For families across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the need for stable housing. In the past two years, many families have been pushed into an emergency housing situation by the lingering effects of COVID-19, including job loss, childcare impediments, and healthcare costs. 

“Our aspiration is to change the future for 1 million children by 2030,” said Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers. “Gerstner’s support of our mission will help achieve just that and make shelter a last resort.” 

For some families, emergency shelter at a Family Promise Affiliate is the best answer to a housing crisis. As Family Promise has expanded its programs beyond shelter, however, Affiliates have invested in interventions on the front end of services. If it is the best approach for a family, Affiliates may employ shelter diversion, so a family never experiences an episode of homelessness and does not enter shelter’s door. A creative and hands-on case management practice, shelter diversion identifies a family’s strengths and assets, engages landlords and community members, maps existing resources, and brings a family into a stable housing environment.  

Through the Helping Hands grant, Family Promise will award $15,000 microgrants to thirty Family Promise Affiliates across the country. Affiliates will use these grants to distribute funds directly to the families they serve for unexpected, emergency needs including rent, utilities, furniture, transportation, medical expenses, and childcare. The Helping Hands emergency grant program will enable Affiliates to assist a family in crisis and help them avoid the trauma of homelessness and a stay in shelter. 

“Gerstner Philanthropies is deeply committed to supporting strong, neighborhood-based organizations serving families experiencing one-time financial emergencies. We are honored to partner with Family Promise as we expand our Helping Hands program and build our homelessness prevention and economic stability work on a national scale,” said Kara Klein, Executive Director of Gerstner Philanthropies. 

United by the belief that shelter diversion is good public policy and good fiscal policy, the 2022 partnership between Gerstner Philanthropies and Family Promise is expected to divert at least 500 families from entering shelter and experiencing homelessness. 

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