There is an innovative and replicable transitional housing program that is breaking new ground. The client must be ready to commit to a complete lifestyle change, sign a contract and stay on the road to success. Clients have to pay some of their bills. They have to have a job and they also go to school.
There are many reasons why families become homeless: the loss of a job, unexpected illness, breakup of a marriage and other financial issues. Families find themselves falling behind until they reach a point where they cannot catch-up: are evicted from their apartment or the bank forecloses on their home. For short periods of time, they may stay with relatives or friends. But these welcomes wear out quickly until the family has no place to stay.
There are some options: emergency shelters, transitional housing, rapid rehousing or housing first programs. All of them differ in the services they provide..
Advocates for Homeless Families (Frederick County, Maryland) thinking outside the box, developed a new transitional housing program. According to Ken Allread, Executive Director of Advocates, "We have achieved a 95% success rate in moving homeless families to better jobs and appropriate housing. The key to our success rate is that we are offer a "hand up" program. Our clients pay a reduced rent, pay for part of their education and other bills. Every client has an urban garden that supplies fresh vegetables and reduces their food bill. Clients of Advicates are empowered to pay all of their monthly bills and take their first steps toward a home of their own."
The basic contract calls for mandatory meetings with case managers, attendance at life skills programs where they learn budgeting, avoidance of debt and parenting skills.
Advocates collaborates with Frederick County Community College, to work with clients through several levels of career advancement, including: certification in a job skill leading all the way to the top, two year degrees in nursing or legal aid and other white collar careers.
This is an outstanding program with a magnificent record, but there is less money for an increasing need. The number of homeless families is growing.
The families that leave our transitional housing program, move on with their lives and often come back to visit; some even volunteer. They appreciate their life changes and choices that have led to a better job and appropriate housing (where their children can play safely outside).
Ken Allread is the Executive Director of Advocates. Ken retired after serving in a number of high ranking financial positions in the federal government, but, he didn't stay retired very long. He saw an opportunity to put his financial skills to work and give homeless families a new opportunity. If you would like to know more about this successful housing program, contact Ken -- firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 301-662-2003.
About the Author: Alan Christian has over 25 years experience as a nonprofit consultant, focusing on homeless housing programs. He has provided research for his clients that helped them plan and develop programs that have become very successful.