Thank you to everyone who participated in Family Promise Week 2020! Homelessness is a traumatic experience for families. Our purpose is to support families to prevent them from becoming homeless or shelter them when they do, helping them to achieve permanent housing as quickly as possible. It is our observation that the biggest contributing factor to family homelessness in Waukesha County is that wages do not match the cost of housing. Or in other words there are not enough affordable housing units available. Before Covid-19, most of the families we served had jobs. Yet they could not pay their bills.
To remedy the problem long-term either wages need to increase, or more affordable housing units need to be made available. Nationally, statistics reveal that for every 100 households that need affordable housing there are 37 units available. Until that gap is closed there will always be families and individuals who need housing. And another group of families and individuals who are on the edge of losing their residence, surviving by “patching it together.” They trade off which bills to pay from one month to the next, they move from living with a friend, to their car to a tent.
This is a life that is stressful, unstable and focuses on survival. There is no long-term planning or investing. It is simply making it from the beginning to the end of the day. Family Promise of Waukesha County provides case management to the families we serve to empower them to increase their income. Strategies include searching for a better paying job, improving skills, exploring public resources that will add to their income or provide items that can reduce bills. Secondly, it involves helping them find housing that is affordable and appropriate for their family. Third, it tries to help families address all those other human issues, that all of us have, that further complicates our lives.
None of the services we offer would be possible with you. We are constantly amazed by the generosity of our friends with their time, talent, and treasure. Annually we average 15,000 hours of service from 1300 volunteers. For every dollar we collect we provide $3 of service. Covid-19 is going to drastically skew those numbers in 2020 but we have seen an increase in the number of financial donations. In 2020 we have had an increase of an additional 369 donors.
There is a lot to worry about in the world today. There are moments where we can feel hopeless. What sustains me is you – and the many people who show their character, humanity, kindness, and decency through their generosity.