111 homeless students: Family Promise needs help in reducing those numbers

Published 3:50 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

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By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Imagine you are the single mother of a 16-year-old son.

You live on a minimal income with little familial support.

Your landlord decides to sell the home you’ve been renting for the past few years, and you only have 30 days to find a new home.

Fair market rent prices have increased significantly over the past three years and you cannot find an affordable place to live.

Your 30 days are up, and you have nowhere to go. You work up the courage to go to a shelter only to find out that you will not be able to stay together due to your son’s age.

Your already stressful crisis just got that much scarier.

Fortunately, this mother’s next call was to Family Promise of Davie County (FPDC), which keeps families together while in shelter regardless of the child’s age.

Rural and family homelessness is often an invisible crisis and is hidden from public view, said Lisa Reynolds, FPDC executive director. Families experiencing homelessness typically stay with family and friends, in motels, or in a shelter as opposed to sleeping on the street.

Homelessness may not be a visible issue in this community, but 111 students in Davie County Schools have been identified so far this year as experiencing homelessness.

FPDC works to address the issue of family homelessness holistically.

“We provide prevention services before families reach crisis, shelter and transitional housing if they become homeless, stabilization programs once they have secured housing to ensure they remain independent, and case management throughout all stages,” she said.

Since opening in 2017, FPDC has served more than 1,300 parents and children through its shelter, transitional housing, and emergency financial assistance programs. There is space to shelter two families at the Family Center on Liberty Circle and two single-family homes that serve as transitional housing.

“Meeting families where they are and walking alongside them during their crisis is the core of what we do,” Reynolds said. “We believe every family has promise and that every child deserves a home.”

It’s proven to be a highly successful approach., she said:

• homelessness is prevented for 98% of families served in the program;

• on average, 94% of the people served in the shelter program secure housing within 17 weeks. 90% of those families are still housed one year later; and

• on average, 90% of the families served in the transitional housing program secure housing within 16 weeks. 90% of those families are still housed one year later.

Housing shortages

and low wages

It is estimated that 1 in 23 North Carolina children will experience homelessness before the age of 6.

Families make up about 30% of the national homeless population.

There is no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, where a minimum-wage worker working 40 hours per week can afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market price.

In Davie County, a minimum-wage worker would need to work nearly 86 hours per week to afford the average rent of $808 for a two-bedroom apartment. A single person in Davie County would need to earn at least $18.63/hour ($38,760/year), and more if they have children.

Housing is the greatest expense for most families and should not exceed 30% of a family’s budget, Reynolds said.

“Unfortunately, 2023 statistics from the N.C. Housing Coalition indicate that 22% of Davie households are cost-burdened by housing, with 49% of renters and 18% percent of homeowners struggling to afford their homes. Of those cost-burdened renters, 15.64% faced an eviction.

“Safe, stable housing can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Far too often, a child’s life is uprooted due to eviction and housing instability,” said Reynolds.

The Power of an Hour

On Thursday, April 20, FPDC will host Family Promise Giving Day, a 24-hour online campaign to raise awareness and funds to support local families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

“This year, we’re asking you to ‘Give an Hour’ to Family Promise, whether that be a donation of an hour of your salary or an hour of your attention to learn more about Family Promise and the 2.5 million children who experience homelessness every year in America,” said Reynolds.

Donations can be made online at the website or via check made to Family Promise of Davie County and mailed to PO Box 1536 Mocksville, NC 27028.

To learn more about Family Promise of Davie County and its programs, visit the website at www.familypromisedc.org or call (336) 284-4200.