Home-to-Home in 90-Days!
Family Promise of Montgomery County serves homeless families with children. Home-to-Home is our 90-day shelter program for single adults or couples that are homeless and have children under the age of 18 with them. Home-to-Home is not just 90-days of shelter for homeless families. We provide a transformational program to assist parents who are willing to put forth the effort to become working adults and manage their finances and households responsibly while providing a healthy and stable living environment for their children with support and guidance from Family Promise of Montgomery County. The program encompasses immediate stability response, preparation for independent living, and funding towards a family’s transition.
Sounds good, but what does that mean?
That means our families do not go it alone. As long as our families are committed to getting back on their feet, can follow our guidelines while maintaining a positive attitude; we will have their backs and support them the best way we can!
Let us take a second and think about you (the reader). Where are you right now? Are you sitting in your car reading this? Are you at work, sitting at your computer, or home on your couch or in bed? What if you lost those securities today, how would you recover? If you lost your car, your job, and/or your home, how would you regain them? Some of you will have a savings that will repair your car or buy a new one, some will have the education and/or work experience to find another job quickly, and others will have other housing options for elsewhere to live temporarily until you are back on your feet. However, what about the families that do not have these resources? What about the family that is already living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to repair their vehicle? What are the options for adults who have limited education and work experience? What happens to the family that does not have the housing resources? Here at Family Promise of Montgomery County, we understand the importance of life responsibilities and being accountable for the decisions we make. We will get to that part a little later, but homelessness is now. It has happened. It has happened to the family next door, to our son or daughter and their children, and to our friend. What do they do? Most people have family they can rely on and that will offer some sort of support to help until the family is back stable. Other people do not have this support system. Even if you do, how long will your family or friends support you and your children and will they?
Our typical Family Promise family is a single mom of two children who has a high school education, is unemployed, and without transportation. Most likely, this mom had a job but was let go. Her car needed repairs that she could not afford and therefore she could not get to work. She was then evicted when she got behind on rent. She stayed with family for a little bit, but there was limited space and her family eventually asked her to leave. Now this mom and her two children are homeless and alone.
Once this mom is accepted into Family Promise of Montgomery County, she has lots of work to do, but she is no longer alone.
Immediate Stability Response
The first goal is to stabilize this family with an immediate response to their essential needs, which include shelter, food, clothing, hygiene items, and transportation. Our organization partners with local congregations to provide shelter, meals, and transportation for our families. The members become volunteers that coordinate a week’s stay at their church. Each family is given their own private area to keep their belongings and sleep. The volunteers prep meals at home, deliver them to the church each evening, and eat dinner with our families. Volunteers fellowship with the families, engage the children in activities, sleep overnight, and drive any families needing transportation to and from our Day Center in the mornings and afternoons. Within their first week, families are given vouchers to shop a local resale shops; such as the Assistance League of Montgomery County and Angelic Resale. We also have personal care items stored for families and will also offer them a trip to the local Walmart to purchase additional needed items; generally shoes and undergarments. If a family is not receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP food benefits), we will pay for their first few weeks of groceries until they are.
So now, this single mom of two has shelter. They have food, clothing, and their immediate need for hygiene items has been met. She also has some transportation. Most importantly, this single mom now has a support system that has the resources to sustain her and her family needs while she gets back on her feet. As long this mother remains committed to getting her family stable, can follow our guidelines, and maintain a positive attitude, her family will have 90-days of this type of support.
Preparation for Independent Living
Families have access to our Day Center; which provides families an address to use to apply for government services, other resources, and to use on their driver’s licenses. The Day Center is a fully stocked house with shower facilities, a laundry room, two bedrooms, computer stations, a full kitchen, and a playground. While at the Day Center (open Monday – Friday 7am to 5pm), our families will work with their Case Manager to complete their assessments and develop their family’s goals.
Families are assisted with applying for government programs such as the SNAP food benefits, CHIP and Children’s Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, and Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI) childcare assistance program. If our families do not have SNAP benefits, as previously stated, we will purchase their groceries until they do. We will assist families with immediate low-cost medical needs and try to first refer them to the Lone Star Family Health Center or Interfaith Clinic. When single parents do not have childcare, they are unable to secure employment. In order for them to be approved for NCI childcare assistance, they must first be working. Therefore, we cover the cost of childcare for our single-parent families until they are approved for NCI, can pay the childcare themselves, or have found an alternate childcare provider. School aged children are enrolled in school and we work with their register and/or school counselor to ensure they have all the supplies needed.
The primary goal for our families is to obtain full-time employment. Families are given job-search resources and are connected to the local Workforce. We even help our families with needed makeovers and buying interview clothes; therefore they feel better about themselves and are more prepared and likely to receive employment faster.
We give each of our families gas cards (once per week) to help with their transportation needs. If a family is without transportation, we will provide it to them. Either their Case Manager will transport them or we will give them bus passes for the Conroe Connection. If a family has their own transportation, but are in need of repairs, we will work with them to get their vehicle fixed if feasible. We have also assisted our families with replacing a tire, updating their registration, and/or obtaining their first month of insurance. Occasionally, families will enter our program with suspended driver’s licenses or not one at all. We have worked with the state and local courts to help relieve families of these issues and have signed families up for driver’s education. All of these services are available through our Keeping Autos Reliable – Gas & Oil Program (KAR-GO). If a family is without transportation or their vehicle is not worth the cost of fixing, we will work with the family to receive a donated vehicle through our Donated Vehicle Program once they have successfully completed their stay in the Home-to-Home Program.
Now our single mom of two has an address to receive mail, resources for finding a job, childcare assistance, and full transportation.
As families participate in our Home-to-Home Program, they are required to attend weekly required Life Skills classes scheduled for Thursday night, and the instructors cover a range of topics such as financial management, healthy living and nutrition, good parenting, stress and anger management, and safer households. Families also meet individually with Woodforest National Bank representatives who will help them with their family’s financial curriculum, New Beginnings ™ A Program for Family Financial Fitness.
Once families begin working, they are required to save 100% of their disposable income. Weekly parents bring in their paystubs and review their family’s budget with the Case Manager. Money is allocated to pay for their general expenses (cell phone bill, continued vehicle insurance, storage, etc) and the remainder is deposited into their Client Savings Account (fully refunded to families at the end of their stay).
The single mom of two is now working, she is learning vital skills to help her once she is back on her feet, and she has a little nest egg of savings that will help with her move-out expenses or to be left untouched so that she is better prepared for unforeseen situations in the future. Many times, we have found that families who come to us in need usually do so due to an unmet financial obligation. We have come to learn that if our families are taught and shown how to save their money and make smarter financial decisions, they are better prepared when met with a crisis such as losing one’s car, job, or getting behind on rent.
Funding for a Family’s Transition
Approaching the end of her stay in our Home-to-Home program, our single mom of two should have now found an affordable place to live. It may take some time to find such opportunities; parents are given a list of low-income apartments to start applying for and have their names added to the waiting lists. Many are usually 6 – 12 months long, but on occasion units do become available sooner. Once mom has found a place for her and her children to stay, Family Promise of Montgomery County will fund up to $500 towards her move-out expenses; which is usually applied towards a rental or utility deposit. Most of our families that start working immediately when they enter our program, have a better chance of taken advantage of their Client Savings Account. Many will have saved $800 – 1,000. Unfortunately, some will need to use a portion to pay added deposits due to having an eviction or broken lease on their rental history.
When a family informs us of their upcoming move, we ask them to create a Family Wish List that we can share with our network of supporters. Many who engaged the family while they stayed at their church will donate to the family’s housing needs. Items given include household supplies (kitchenware, bedding, home décor, etc). We also manage a storage unit that holds donated furniture that we gift to our moving families. Families are able to visit the unit and pick any items they would like to have in their new home. We work with a local moving company Adam’s Transfer and Storage Co. to help move the families into their home. Adams will meet the family at the storage unit, load all of their selected furniture, and deliver it to their home. Adam’s also picks-up any items to donate to Family Promise. All of these services are provided at no cost.
Our once homeless mom of two children now has a job, she has a savings, her children are enrolled in school and/or daycare, she has transportation, and she has a furnished home that she can afford. She also has the knowledge to be a better and more responsible parent, and she ultimately knows that she is not alone and will forever have Family Promise.
To learn more about Family Promise of Montgomery County, please visit our website at www.familypromiseofmc.org. If you’d like to donate items to the organization, please call 936-441-8778 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monetary donations can be made online at www.familypromiseofmc.org/donate
Family Promise of Montgomery County
PO Box 692
Conroe, TX 77305
To apply for services, please call our Day Center: (936) 441-8778 or complete the online application.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 7am to 5pm