Watch the "How it All Works" slideshow (3 mins)
We all know the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” At New City Initiative, we recognize that every family needs a village of support, especially families that have experienced homelessness. For these families, a network of caring and supportive people can make all the difference when it comes to stability, self-sufficiency, and educational success, and can even reduce the incidence of homelessness for future generations. Village Support teams assist a family over a six-month period during their transition from shelter to housing. Teams support families in following through on their sustainability plans, provide a small family assistance fund to invest in their success, and help connect them with local resources and integrate into their new community.
On June 25th, 2014, the Portland City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for our interfaith initiative addressing family homelessness. In the next year, New City Initiative will recruit 50 faith communities to work with families and help them transition from being outside to being stable in housing.
Village Support Teams are composed of 4-6 volunteers from a congregation. Each team member commits approximately 4-6 hours a month over six months to work with a family transitioning from shelter to housing. Each team receives four hours of initial orientation and training, plus an additional four hours of continuing education over the course of their six month commitment. Teams work with families to set up action plans, develop budgets, and settle into their new homes and communities. Teams also raise $500 that goes into a "family assistance fund." The team and the family decide how to spend these funds as targeted investments in the family's success over the six-month period.
In 2013, 15 families were sponsored by congregations through the Village Support Network. Of these, all but one (93%) had positive housing outcomes. With the help of their teams, families took measurable steps toward stability, setting goals, making budgets, and obtaining employment.
The Village Support Network is ending the cycle of homelessness by fostering stability and self-sufficiency for families who have experienced homelessness. By developing and strengthening relationships both within the family and with the larger community, teams are helping families increase their housing stability, empowerment and overall life satisfaction. Teams are also deepening their understanding of the experience of homelessness, and strengthening their ability to relate to the experience of individuals who have experienced homelessness.
Families will have increased stability after participating in the Village Support Network by increased connections/completion of goals in the following areas:
We had 15 families and 18 communities of faith participate in the Village Support Network in 2013. Of these, 93 percent of the families we worked with in 2013 have remained stably housed. 73 percent have either maintained or achieved employment. Many of our faith communities have enjoyed and learned so much for their experiences that they are hosting additional teams.
In February 2013, Tina and Robbie were living in a shelter with their daughter, Mindy, both without employment but confident that things could turn around. They were matched with a support team from Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. The team assisted them in achieving the goals they had set for themselves. Now, Robbie and Tina are both working full-time as supervisors for DePaul Industries Security Services and Mindy is traveling after graduating high school in June 2014 with college in the near future. The family has achieved amazing things during their few months in the Village through their own efforts and with the support and encouragement of their team.
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