Our goal this year at Families Together is to house 80 families with children and to provide ongoing support to another 100+ families after they are housed. Ok, sounds great, but you might wonder how the Families Together (FT) model works? Here's a snapshot of the critical linchpin to the success of our model -- the FT Mentor Advocates.
Our Mentor Advocates (MA) are dedicated professionals with a unique passion to serve our mission to move families from homelessness to home. The team of four puts each family at the center of our work. They help families obtain permanent housing and then deliver effective, ongoing services for up to a year past the move-in date to help them achieve stability. Our amazing Mentor Advocates are Karen Lassiter, Emily Archer, Harriett Reynolds and they will soon be joined by Jasmine Dulin who will be the newest member of our staff.
After being referred by a partner shelter to Families Together, each family is assessed to make sure they are a good fit for FT's services. Once enrolled, each family is assigned to a Housing Navigator MA who works with the family to develop their own plan to meet the family's goals for housing, and to address the root causes of their homelessness, as well as physical and behavioral health issues, employment, and education. Housing Navigator MA Karen's role is to secure safe, affordable housing that the family can sustain for the long-term. She builds relationships with landlords and property management companies that have a special commitment to making our community better for all. While networking, partnering and negotiating with the landlords, Karen and the family work side-by-side to find a welcoming place that they can call home. Karen says, "I enjoy seeing hope reinstated into the people we serve."
After securing a permanent home, each family begins working with one of our Housing Stabilization MAs Emily and Harriett. They provide crucial support to families for the next year by coaching them through day-to-day challenges, helping set and monitor monthly budgets, and connecting to community resources for things such as food, clothing, furniture, transportation, childcare and mental health counseling. "We fill the gaps for families who are newly housed," says Harriet.
Families Together's Mentor Advocates are on the front line in the battle against childhood homelessness in our community. In addition to their one-on-one work with each family, the Mentor Advocate team provides twice monthly workshops on topics such as financial literacy, landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities and self care. Emily says, "Our goal is to get each family back to independence, and we are so happy for them when they do!"
Thank you Karen, Emily, and Harriett for your dedication to making the dream of home a reality for so many hard-working families in our community.