Posts in Families
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

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.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Protecting Your Loved Ones

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:

FamiliesMichael Hooker
SNAP: Harder to Get, Easier to Lose
New requirements could make it harder for people to receive benefits

New requirements could make it harder for people to receive benefits

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.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Calling all North Carolina state employees!

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.


FamiliesMichael Hooker
Supply "Store" Opens
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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 or (919)307-1892 if you have any further questions.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
Ride App Launch

For families experiencing homelessness, transportation is a major obstacle to getting to jobs, medical appointments, and grocery stores. We’re introducing a unique way you can help alleviate that. Families Together has started the Ride Together program for people we serve to get to that important job interview or that critical doctor’s appointment. Would you be willing to provide a lift on occasion? By volunteering, you can be the difference in families getting to potentially life-changing destinations. If you are interested in learning more, please visit here or contact Community Engagement Coordinator Meghan Olesen at or (919)307-1892.

FamiliesMichael Hooker
The Road Home
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We love sharing stories of families who have successfully traveled the hard road from homelessness to home. Although we love all our stories, Reshena's is a special one.

Reshena and her family were referred to us while they were living in a hotel. It was her, her husband, and three sons (two with special needs). With the help of her Mentor Advocate and supporters like you, Reshena and her family were able to find housing. Unlike many of our clients whose obstacles lessen when they are housed, Reshena's problems seemed to increase.

Within a short period of time she split from her husband and lost her job. With the biggest blow coming when renovations from a flood caused their living situation to become unbearable and working with the landlord became very difficult. But Reshena's resolve would not let her and her family fall back into homelessness.

With encouragement and coaching from her FT Mentor Advocate, she reached out to the City of Raleigh where they determined the home to be uninhabitable and recommended that she move immediately. With the help of legal aid Reshena was able to work out a settlement with the landlord, and she and her family moved into a much nicer home.

While dealing with her new housing crisis Reshena entered into electrocardiogram school. Families Together was to able pay for her tuition, books, and exam fees with funds from an amazing donation from BB&T. She walked to the library whenever she needed to study, until her Mentor Advocate reached out to The Kramden Institute and was provided her own computer!

Even while dealing with the challenges of her living situation Reshena maintained a 99% average in school. On June 26 she passed her national exam and plans on applying to local medical centers immediately.

We are so proud of Reshena and how she never gave up! She faced her challenges and came out the other side better and stronger, and we are glad to have been a part of her success.

FamiliesMichael Hooker