Open Doors for DFW Homeless Families
This update is brought to you by our friend Kendall Molsberry, Brand and Marketing Manager of Family Gateway.
Remember what life was like when you were in second grade? You were probably 7 or 8 years old, and your biggest concern was whether or not the little boy or girl in your class gave you cooties while playing tag at recess.
Imagine that you’re in second grade again. This time instead of worrying about the latest cootie outbreak, you’re anxious every day when the bell rings because you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping that night. Maybe it will be your uncle’s house like last night or your family’s car like the night before last. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to rinse off in the bathroom sink at Walmart or McDonald’s before school tomorrow morning.
While this life seems foreign to most of us, this is the reality for hundreds of children and families in Dallas. Last month (August 2017) alone, we identified 54 families living in their cars or in other uninhabitable locations.These families have little to no hope left. That’s where Family Gateway comes in to the picture.
Family Gateway exists to provide stability and life-changing supportive services to children and families affected by homelessness. Our agency is a place where hope is reborn and where lives are transformed to regain self-sufficiency. This is accomplished with a two-generation approach of wraparound services including emergency shelter, supportive housing, comprehensive case management, children’s services, education programming, and a brand new assessment and diversion program.
Our new assessment and diversion program was implemented to align with Opening Doors, the national strategic plan to address homelessness. The program utilizes creative problem solving, landlord engagement, and community resources to keep families who are at risk or near-homelessness from becoming homeless. This means we are expanding our already unique role in the homeless response system to assess families before bringing them into shelter, allowing us to apply interventions other than shelter where appropriate. This leaves the scarce shelter space available for those with no other options.
We recently supported a single mom of six who was days away from eviction. She was seeking shelter for her family because that’s all she knew to do. She was terrified. We rallied resources to help her cover half of what was due, and negotiated an affordable payment plan to help her make things right with her landlord so that the family could remain housed and avoid shelter. That three hours of staff time meant a family avoided the upheaval of becoming part of the homeless shelter system AND avoided an eviction on their record.
This is just one of the many incredible stories we have the privilege of witnessing every single day. The children and families we have the opportunity to serve are strong and resilient. They are determined and inspiring. Most importantly, they are full of hope and joy in the midst of their loss and despair. We know we are only a small piece of their journey, but we are honored to be a part of the chapter that provides a fresh start.
Learn more about how you can get involved in serving these families at familygateway.org.