Temporary Housing – a successful response to the overwhelming needs:
I mentioned in the 4th of July update, we have at times been absolutely overwhelmed by the increasing needs of families who are experiencing homelessness, or are close to eviction, or are precariously housed in Lawrence and Douglas County. Just this month alone (and it is only the 5th of July), we have received over 20 family calls to inquire about our services.
How do other Family Promise Affiliates respond? Many of them conduct 2 rotations, thus manage 2 sets of networks and 2 day centers. Our board believes this is not the best approach for a community the size of Lawrence. Many national affiliates have what they term Transitional Housing. We studied that model and have now successfully launched our Temporary Housing Program. Family Promise of Lawrence has the use of 5 single family homes. As I write, 4 of the homes are occupied, and one is in need of some clean up, and should be occupied later this month. Family Promise of Lawrence is currently serving 4 families with a make up of 18 people through our temporary housing program. We are serving an additional 4 families or 9 people in the traditional rotational portion of the program in the congregations.
How Does the Program Work?
It is so simple! Family Promise of Lawrence enters into a lease agreement with a property owner. The utilities are turned on in our name. A guest family that has saved a certain portion of their income, is working full time, and ready to graduate, but may have not quite saved enough for deposit and first month’s rent, can enter into the temporary housing program. Family Promise continues to work with the family on a weekly basis, the family is able to continue to save, and to build some positive rental history. They pay a small rent/utilities fee which is far below market value, but allows them to practice some of the budgeting and financial management they learned while in the program.
By initiating the Temporary House program, we have been able to more than double the capacity of families we are able to serve at any point in time. What a blessing it is to the families to have some autonomy, and privacy and continue towards their goals and savings in a home setting. As in the rotational portion of the program, they are able to sign up for a month at time. Sometimes all that is needed is an additional month or two to act as a bridge towards permanent housing.
Some Fun Facts about these Houses?
Each home is furnished with donated furniture, from some of you reading this note! They are equiped with basic kitchen items, towels and sheets and blankets. We have named each property to help tell the story of what God is doing through this program.
Bethany House – this house is a former parsonage of Trinity Lutheran Church. The first family in this property moved in last weekend. Previous to Family Promise using this home, it was the location of the Lutheran Campus Ministry. This is a beautiful old 3-4 bedroom home, that has a triple bunk bed in it. The family currently living in this property has 2 elementary age boys that attend Cordley. The bunk beds are a huge hit!
Grace House – this 3 bedroom house is sponsored in full by Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Thus named for the grace that is lived out by the sponsorship and service. Previous to Family Promise using this home, it was formally the Five Loaves house. It is also the location for a community garden that is used by several in the neighborhood. Currently this home is the residence of a 3 generation family! It has been such a blessing to them.
Rotary House – a fun little 2 bedroom cottage with a big yard and a huge storage garage is partially sponsored by the Lawrence Breakfast Rotary Club. Their sponsorship includes some financial support for the property, as well as pantry stocking, cleaning supplies and work days. The home is being prepared now to house it’s 3rd graduate family. This was the first house in the temporary housing program that came on board in September, 2012.
Barnabas House – a lovely 3 bedroom home with a large yard. Testing your New Testament knowledge! Who was Barnabas? He was a companion of Paul on his first missionary journey. (Acts 4:36, 13:1, 11:22-29, 14:14…just to site a few!). His name was changed from Joseph, because Barnabas means, “son of encouragement”. The use of this home is true encouragement to the families that are housed there, and thus the name. The home currently is housing its 2nd family, a Mom, Dad and their 2 boys.
Hesed House – the newest home to join the program. This 2 bedroom home is just adorable. Hesed is Hebrew for mercy. Mercy just sort of stands on its own – a strong, unshakable force. Oh if we all lived by true, pure mercy! This house has a single Mom and her teen daughter. They are so enjoying sleeping on a real bed. I think they spent the first weekend just sleeping!
How can you help?
Please consider sponsoring a temporary house with an organization, congregation, small group or family project by one or several of the options below:
1. Financially support a temporary house for a month, This cost covers the mortgage, property taxes, and utilities, so Family Promise can offer the guest family a subsidized rent at well below market value. Full monthly sponsorship ranges from $550 – $950 per month.
2. Pay for the utilities bill, or a portion of the bills for a temporary house for a month. The total utilities package per house ranges from $ 200 – $300 per month.
3. Pay the subsidized rent portion of the mortgage and property taxes on a temporary house for a month. The range is $350 – $650 per month
4. Organize a fill the pantry blessing at your congregation or work for when a new family moves into a temporary home.
5. Purchase home cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels etc for a home before a new family moves in.
6. Participate by preparing food to welcome a new family into a temporary home – continuing to practice the lost art of hospitality!
7. Volunteer for a work day project, when improvements can be made on the properties we have leased.
If you have interest in sponsoring one of these homes in some manner; work days, financial sponsorship, pantry blessings, or other ways to serve, please contact me. We’d love to have you join the project!
Abundant Blessings through Grace, Bethany, Barnabas, Rotary, and Hesed,