First, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the Hike for Hope for Family Promise. The event was held virtually due to restrictions on the number of people who could gather in the park, yet even a pandemic could not stop our supporters from coming out for families experiencing homelessness.
Second, as you will see in more detail below, Family Promise received one of TD Charitable Foundation’s Housing for Everyone awards AND a very special gift from West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood.
Funds raised by our events, including Hike for Hope, grants, and private fundraisers allow Family Promise to respond quickly and strategically to the changing needs of families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We are able to decide where these dollars are most needed and are not bound by the timing and conditions that often come with government funding.
One area where families currently need help is paying rental arrears. Many parents lost their jobs during the pandemic or had their hours significantly reduced. The eviction moratorium has been keeping families safely housed, but at some point the rent will come due. It will be difficult for many families to catch up without some form of assistance. Although the government has allocated funding to help families with rental arears under both administrations, the roll-out has been extremely complicated, relying on a lottery system to determine who, from a pool of eligible families, will actually receive aid. At the time of this writing, a significant portion of rental assistance money from the initial stimulus package had yet to be distributed. On the other hand, Family Promise is able to quickly identify and assist families before they experience a housing crisis.
Going forward, our plan is to double our efforts in the area of homeless prevention. If we can get involved early enough, families can stay in their own homes and not suffer the trauma and stigma associated with homelessness. COVID has taught us that it’s possible to hold effective case management sessions and provide other support virtually. Homeless prevention will enhance the continuum of services that Family Promise offers.
In other efforts to assist additional families, Family Promise presented three workshops to McKinney Vento families – those families who have been identified by their school districts as being homeless or living doubled up with others. In the first of these workshops, we introduced Family Promise housing stabilization programs including temporary shelter, rental assistance, and homeless prevention. We invited a representative from SNAP (food stamps) who explained how to apply for benefits and our friends from Bergen Volunteers shared information about the VITA Program, which provides free tax preparation services to low and moderate income families. The next two workshops focused on financial education and discussed strategies for using stimulus money most effectively and incorporating the monthly child tax credit into the family budget.
This is just a sample of what we are able to accomplish with your support. Together we empower working families who become homeless and help those who are at-risk before it’s too late. Thanks again to all who support Family Promise in so many ways.
With sincere gratitude,