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 Raleigh, Learning Together, The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Ultimately, you’ll help break the cycle of homelessness, build family cohesion, and give children the hope that begins with a home.
You may have heard about planned giving, but are not familiar with the benefits. A planned gift is really quite easy - it involves some planning that helps both you and our mission. We’re excited to announce that Families Together has launched a new Planned Giving website.
Do you own an IRA or other qualified retirement plan? Are you looking for a tax-wise strategy to make gifts to support our mission? Our new website is a great information resource with planning tools, videos, and stories to help you create a legacy of hope and opportunity.
You would leave a legacy of hope and opportunity and take advantage of many tax benefits of making a gift! What are the benefits of making a bequest? Get practical information for you and your family. Planning tools and helpful information can be found here: http://ftlegacy.org/?pageID=166
Many families served by FT receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Unfortunately there are misconceptions about recipients of safety-net programs as being unemployed people living on the government’s dime. Approximately 85% of the families we serve are headed by someone who is employed, which matches the national average of SNAP recipients. FT Mentor Advocate Amelia currently is serving 28 cases, 25 cases have jobs and 2 are permanently disabled. Olivia Paschal of The Atlantic points out that the “maximum per-meal value of food stamps is a paltry $1.86—which isn’t enough to cover the cost of an entire meal almost anywhere in the country.”
The current Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept 30, 2018. One of the more contentious parts of the bill are the proposed stricter work requirements on people to receive benefits. Pascal explains the proposed requirements as, "dramatically increases the need to work, requiring almost anyone receiving snap benefits, including people with children above the age of 6 and all “able-bodied” adults under the age of 60, to work or participate in job training for at least 20 hours a week. Failure to do so (or failure to report to work- or job-training hours) just once, and they’d lose benefits for a full year. Two strikes, and the penalty increases to three years of lost benefits unless they comply with the requirements or receive an exemption."
The aim is to cut funding for food stamps by more than $213 billion, or nearly 30%, over the next decade. Currently the Farm Bill has requirements of able-bodied people under the age of 60 have been required by law to work part-time or participate in job-training programs to receive snap benefits since the program was created in 1996. Requirements are even stricter for people under the age of 50 without children or other dependents, who can receive only three months of benefits in a three-year period if they don’t work at least 80 hours a month, and can be disqualified from benefits for up to six months if they don’t meet one of several other more stringent requirements. Hopefully the misconceptions are not driving the proposed changes.
For over 35 years the North Carolina State Employee Combined Campaign has provided state employees and retirees an opportunity and choice in directing their contributions to charitable organizations through a uniform and systematic process. We are extremely excited to have been selected as one of the organizations to be a part of the 2018 campaign running through November.
The campaign assures state employees and retirees continuous opportunity to support charitable organizations that are accountable, fiscally sound, and committed to improving the quality of life in our state, nation and the world. We encourage current and past state employees to join our mission of taking families from homelessness to home.
November will be here before you know it, please visit the SECC website to set up your contributions now. We hope you will consider designating PLM Families Together. Our SECC code is 3957.
Each summer we hold a backpack and school supply drive for the children who are currently in our program, and those who arrive throughout the year. We believe that every kid should get the opportunity to experience the excitement of choosing their supplies. August 16-18 our school supply "store" will be open! We believe that every kid should get the opportunity to experience the excitement of choosing their supplies. That's why we set up the "School Store" where families and kids to "shop" for their needed supplies. In order to provide this opportunity we need both donations of supplies and volunteers to staff the store. We need backpacks and supplies for the full range of age groups. Please contact Meghan Olesen Community Engagement Coordinator at Meghan@familiestogethernc.org or (919)307-1892 if you have any further questions.