Update on Amber
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We’d like to share an update on Amber, whose story was covered by WRAL in July. You may remember that Amber worked full-time and lived with her four kids and a therapy dog in a local motel. After five months in the motel and dedicated housing search as well as advocacy from the Families Together team for the last several months, Amber finally signed a lease to a place where she and her family can make a home. Our Mentor Advocates will continue to work with her for up to a year to help ensure her long-term housing success.

In the Raleigh/Wake rental market, the challenge of finding affordable housing for hourly wage workers - even with a voucher - is enormous. Families Together is dedicated to ensuring that children in our community never have to wonder where they're going to sleep at night.

Your individual donations and church support makes this kind of life-changing event possible and helped make Amber’s dream of having a home a reality. 


 
Meghan Olesen
Activate Good Saves the Day!
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When Activate Good asks their volunteers to show their super power, they really come through! This month Activate Good #DoGooders rallied in just a few days to help Families Together remove flooring due to damage and paint an entire Short-term Housing apartment in just one day. Oh, and did we mention, that the A/C was out too.

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Despite the hard work in the sweltering heat 13 dedicated volunteers, some strangers and some new to volunteering, laughed and told stories. They helped each other out and all around had FUN!

Activate Good Board Member and project leader Bill Halvorsen said it best: “Did you hear complaining? No, you heard strangers telling stories, you heard friends being made. You saw a place where a family will come and feel safe and secure being formed.”

This is why we love our volunteers! Always happy to do good. Thanks #DoGooders!

 
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Meghan Olesen
Affordable Housing Project Ready to Launch

Wake County Public Schools informed Families Together last week that 929 students lived in motels at some point in the 18-19 school year. That's up from 831 in the previous year and about 250 five years ago. Families Together has been working for over a year to develop a new Affordable Housing project with a range of housing interventions that will help the increasing number of families living in area motels. 

 
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New grants from two long-time partners along with funds from our spring campaign have provided the initial seed money to launch our Affordable Housing Project. We’re grateful to the John Rex Endowment (JRE) and United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) for stepping up with significant investments in this critical work. JRE awarded Families Together a $600,000 grant over three years and UWGT granted $150,000 with the possibility for renewal next year. 

A brief summary of our plans can be found here. If you have questions, ideas or would like to learn more, please get in touch by contacting jennifer@familiestogethernc.org.



Meghan Olesen
Families Together on WRAL

An important segment, featuring Families Together, on the increasing number of Wake families living in motels due to lack of affordable housing aired on WRAL last week. Amber, who lives with her four children in a single low-cost motel room, shares her story and Lisa Rowe, Families Together Executive Director, speaks more broadly on the challenges many more families like Amber’s face in finding safe, affordable, dignified housing.

 
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Since its airing, we've received several offers of support for Amber's family and other families in our program (including housing and summer camps). We are following up on all of them now to help Amber’s family and more like hers move into safe, affordable, dignified housing.


Meghan Olesen
Special Recognition for More Than A Roof
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Living in a motel brings its own set of challenges that prevent people from obtaining stable housing. That's why in 2016 we partnered with other local organizations to specifically target this unique population of families through the More Than a Roof Collaborative. Since its inception MTAR has successfully housed over thirty Wake County families with young children. Recently, Mutual of America held a luncheon at The State Club to honor the wonderful people who worked so hard to make MTAR a success. We were joined by 80 guests from across the community including Board members, former Board members, donors, member churches, corporate partners, foundation partners and elected officials. It was wonderful to receive the recognition along with our partners in the MTAR collaborative -- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of RaleighLearning TogetherThe Salvation Army of Wake County, and Triangle Literacy Council. The original inspiration for the collaborative and our primary funding partner was the United Way of the Greater Triangle which made so much of our success for families in need possible over the last three years. Special thanks to the Mutual of America Foundation for organizing their annual nationwide Community Partnership Award and for shining a spotlight on effective collaborative efforts like ours. To top off the event, Mutual of America presented Families Together with a $25,000 contribution. This will make a tremendous difference as we expand our work to move more children and families from low-cost motels to safe, dignified homes.     

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Meghan Olesen
Jackie's Journey Home
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Jackie and her two children were living in a low-cost motel for over a year when she came to Families Together. Jackie worked hard, paid her bills and took good care of her children but she didn’t have the means to save enough for the rental deposits necessary to move her family into an apartment. When she attended one of our workshops she was connected to our community partner Habitat for Humanity. Soon we discovered she was eligible to own a Habitat home. First we moved Jackie and her kids into a unit in our short-term housing so she could save the cost of the nightly motel bill while she fulfilled Habitat’s sweat equity requirement. This spring Jackie will be the proud owner of her own home. Her children will have their own beds, a safe place to play outside and the stability of a home. It’s a dream that wasn’t possible just a few months ago.

Michael Hooker
Against the Odds
At school, I was stressed about how to hide my homelessness and, when I wasn’t at school, I was stressed about how to satisfy at least my immediate needs”

At school, I was stressed about how to hide my homelessness and, when I wasn’t at school, I was stressed about how to satisfy at least my immediate needs”

Latte Harris is a teen from Vancouver, Washington who recently wrote a blog for HomeRoom, the Department of Education’s blog. Latte provided important insights about what it's like to experience homelessness while trying to achieve her educational goals.
She said, “Have you wondered what being homeless is like? Being homeless is like driving a car with three wheels. You don’t have all the tools you need to succeed. While other cars zip past you, hope begins to dissipate with every passing mile. It is like living two different lives. At school, I was stressed about how to hide my homelessness and, when I wasn’t at school, I was stressed about how to satisfy at least my immediate needs”
Latte overcame tremendous obstacles and was able to graduate high school and become the first person in her family to attend college. Latte is more the exception than the rule as students who are homeless drop out at a much higher rate than students with stable homes. The Department of Education explains one challenge of being homeless while attending school stating, “Homeless students experience greater school mobility than their non-homeless peers. School mobility can cause interruptions to a child’s education and is associated with lower school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.”
Getting a good education is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty that many homeless students grow up in but homelessness in and of itself prevents many students from being successful in school. It’s a cycle that many students can’t break, and then pass down to the future generations. Families Together’s core model is designed to move families with children from homelessness to stable homes as quickly as possible. By doing so, we reduce the likelihood of student absenteeism and increase the chances of academic achievement. Ultimately we work to break the cycle of homelessness, build family cohesion, and give children the opportunity to thrive.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Rent too High
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Zillow recently hosted a round-table discussion in Washington, D.C. based on this new research. Their research reported that “Communities where people spend more than 32 percent of their income on rent can expect a more rapid increase in homelessness”. They further noted, “This research demonstrates that the homeless population climbs faster when rent affordability – the share of income people spend on rent – crosses certain thresholds.”

Recent reports show that in Raleigh a household must earn about $20 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment and not spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The News & Observer’s Henry Gargan reported that 45% of Raleigh renters are spending over 30% of their income on rent making them housing insecure. The research discussed at the DC round-table hosted by Zillow suggests that the increases in housing insecurity that Raleigh is experiencing could portend a more rapid increase in homelessness. The good news is that our Wake County and City of Raleigh officials are working on policies to preserve and create affordable housing. But will that be enough?

About 85% of the families we serve include at least one person that is employed, but on average they earn about half of what is needed to sustain rent payments in Raleigh. These families that are working so hard to get out of homelessness face the hardest uphill climb of all. Some of the ways Families Together is working to anticipate and address the challenges they will face include providing more workforce training to increase household earnings, hiring a financial health counselor to help families improve credit scores and money management, partnering with groups like Habitat for Humanity to help families move from homelessness to home ownership, and increasing the pool of affordable housing by purchasing and preserving naturally occurring affordable housing.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Spreading the Holiday Cheer!
Holiday Smiles Program

Holiday Smiles Program

The Holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year for families experiencing homelessness.  A time that should be happy and bright can bring stress and sadness as families work to get back on their feet...YOU can help bring the cheer back to the season!

Our Holiday Smiles Program is unique from other programs in the community in that your holiday gifts will go directly to the family you're matched with.  When you shop, the wishes you are fulfilling are truly the wishes of the individuals we serve. As a sponsor you will receive a holiday gift wish list with first names, ages, favorite colors, clothing sizes, etc.  You decide on the number of families, the size and even the amount you want to spend.  The Families Together Staff will be available to support you as you work to fulfill wishes. This is a rewarding opportunity to do as a family or as a group effort in your community.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Let's Face It 2019
https://familiestogethernc.org/lets-face-it/

https://familiestogethernc.org/lets-face-it/

At Families Together, we believe that every family deserves a home and children should never have to wonder where they’re going to sleep at night. Taking into account infants and young children that are not yet in school, a total of 5,000 children will go homeless in Wake County this year.  Your support is critical to our mission of taking families from homelessness to home.  

You through your donations are the best hope for children that would otherwise fall through gaps in the safety net. Take a look at the impact you made on the lives of families experiencing homelessness last year:

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Ultimately, you’ll help break the cycle of homelessness, build family cohesion, and give children the hope that begins with a home.

FamiliesMichael Hooker