A community-based response: three simple words that define the success of Family Promise nationwide. We believe the solution to homelessness can be found in each community by engaging compassionate volunteers and foundations, civic-minded businesses, and social services agencies focused on families experiencing homelessness and low-income families.
In New Jersey, Family Promise-Union County (FPUC) received a most welcome holiday gift when the Summit Area Public Foundation (SAPF) granted them $30,000 to support a new program aimed at sustainable prevention and rehousing. SAPF is a community foundation focused on identifying local needs and offering donors opportunities to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. Its goal is to support nonprofit agencies and philanthropic activities in the community through their investments. The funding of this initiative is motivated by a desire to further engage Union County volunteers in direct service to local families struggling with poverty and homelessness.
The SAPF grant will be applied in conjunction with a $10,000 Homeless No More Challenge Grant over the next two years from Help Us Move In (HUMI), a Washington State-based nonprofit working with communities to fund and create programs helping families facing housing crises. HUMI is partnering with 11 Family Promise Affiliates to make this a national pilot program, with Union County serving as the pilot for New Jersey.
The HUMI grant is designed to generate a self-sustaining habit of community contributions. Union County is required to raise matching funds from local sources before receiving the HUMI contribution. The $30,000 SAPF grant will not only provide that $10,000 match, it will also allow FPUC to expand the program’s capacity, engage additional volunteers to help move more families into sustainable permanent housing, and finally, maximize their impact in the community.
Family Promise’s goal is to ensure that children are no longer homeless. Keeping families in housing is not only better for them, it’s better for the community. The economic cost of homelessness is staggering, with multiple implications. For example, a child who experiences homelessness is less likely to graduate from high school and the average net cost to society of a child failing to matriculate is more than $120,000 in social services alone.
FPUC’s Executive Director Geleen Donovan appreciates the impact the grant will have in Union County. “When a family enters the Family Promise program, in addition to providing shelter, food and services, we welcome them into a loving community. Thanks to SAPF’s generous investment in our community, our families will receive additional prevention and stabilization support as they work towards securing new homes!”
In the 2017 point-in-time count, 271 family members were identified as homeless in Union County, comprising 31% of the total homeless population.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that 1,000 committed volunteers, including 500 from Summit alone, came together in the Union County program to make a difference in the lives of families in need. 82% of the families who entered the FPUC program moved into long-term housing.
Community engagement works. Relationships with SAPF and HUMI are part of Family Promise’s innovative approach to resolving family homelessness through emphasizing case management, developing sustainable prevention and rehousing programs, and maximizing the impact of our network of donors and volunteers.