Q. IS FAMILY PROMISE OF WAUKESHA COUNTY OPEN?
Q. WHAT SERVICES ARE BEING OFFERED BY FAMILY PROMISE OF WAUKESHA COUNTY?
A. At the end of March due to COVID-19, Family Promise of Waukesha County initiated the Family Homelessness Prevention Program. Since we were unable to provide our shelter program our focus changed to helping families remain in their homes. We established a fund to help those struggling with rent, mortgage payments, utility assistance, groceries, and car repairs.
Q. HOW MUCH FUNDING HAVE YOU RECEIVED FOR THE FAMILY HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION PROGRAM?
A. Since we began $61,000 has been donated to assist with rent, utilities, and transportation.
Q. ARE YOU JUST GIVING AWAY MONEY?
A. Nope. First any funds we use are paid directly to the landlord or utility company. Second, the prevention program becomes an opportunity to help families in a variety of ways. Often it involves help finding work or accessing other resources. Sometimes it involves them to cope with the weight of losing a job during covid-19. This is a highly emotional and challenging time for all of us. We hope we are a stable resource for those who feel they cannot keep their head above water.
Q. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO RECEIVES ASSISTANCE?
A. There is a process we use to determine if a family is qualified. First, families are asked to fill out an application online. Second, our case manager conducts a phone interview with the applicant, then we review the materials that they provide which includes information about their rent, employment status, and any other pertinent information. Third, we talk with key people including landlords, former employer, social workers at other agencies and others. If all the provided information fits the criteria, then we provide the assistance.
Q. WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES TO QUALIFY FOR HOMELESS PREVENTION FUNDS?
A. Here is an overview of our guidelines:
- Section 8 income guidelines will be followed
- This fund is for one-time assistance.
- Applicants can’t be more than one month behind in rent/utility.
- Applicants will need to be able to verify income, whether loss or reduction of hours. If the applicant has a current job, the must provide reasons why rent can’t be met this month. Proof of job or job loss will be also be required.
- Applicants will need to provide information on all adults living in the home regarding job/income status.
- Applicants will need to provide all information regarding sources of income for all family members.
- Applicants will need to provide proof of the amount of rent due or a utility bill.
- Applicants must allow a Family Promise representative to talk to employer or current landlord as needed, as well as any other service provider to determine need for assistance.
- Applicants, who are not Family Promise alumni, need to live in Waukesha County
- Payment goes directly to landlord or utility company
- Social Worker will follow up with family to help plan for the following months and to connect to resources.
Q. WHY ARE PEOPLE DENIED?
A. The biggest reason people are denied is because they do not provide the necessary information to make an informed decision about if they are eligible.
Q. WHO HAVE YOU HELPED SO FAR?
A. From mid -April to the end of August we have provided rent relief, utility assistance or car repairs to sixteen families. To put this number in context, during our first five years of existence, we averaged serving 20 families a year. Certainly, prevention and shelter are very different, but we are happy that during the midst of the pandemic we are on pace to serve more families. It is likely that without the prevention program some of these families would have lost their homes. Please note:
- 44% have a monthly income of $1000 or less.
- Average cost for a two-bedroom apartment in Waukesha County is about $1000
- 77% need assistance due to a job loss or reduced hours
- 67% have two or more children in the home
Q. WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE PREVENTION PROGRAM
A. Our biggest surprise has been the number of applicants whose housing cost to income ratio is close to 50%. This means that half of their income is going to housing. This amount is stunning. It is also a percentage that has existed before Covid-19 and will continue going forth. The fact is too many jobs do not pay a wage that will allow a family to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Waukesha County. If our community wants to reduce or eliminate homelessness these two issues need to be addressed.
Q. HOW CAN I HELP?
A. Please spread the word at your Church, Civic groups, to work colleagues, family, and neighbors that Family Promise of Waukesha County is helping those in need of rent and utility assistance. Often, those who are struggling financially are hidden. You just never know who needs help.
To learn more: www.familypromisewaukesha.org/prevention
Q. ARE YOU PROVIDING SHELTER?
A. Unfortunately no.
Q. WHY ARE YOU NOT PROVIDING SHELTER?
A. Family Promise of Waukesha County, like many shelter programs, suspended our shelter program due to Covid-19. This is due to the structure of our services. We use a rotational model. What this means is that families are sheltered in a congregation one week at a time. 28 host and support Churches provide shelter, meals, volunteers, and fellowship. Most Churches are not ready to host families yet.
Q. WITH THESE CHANGES ARE YOU STILL A FAMILY PROMISE AFFILIATE?
A. Yes! Local affiliates have always been able to adapt their programming to meet the needs of their community. This means that there are affiliates across the country who provide shelter in different ways. Some, like us, use a rotational model, while others have a static model. Some Family Promise affiliates serve single men and women. Many affiliates already offered homelessness prevention services.
Q. WHAT MAKES A FAMILY PROMISE AFFILIATE AN AFFILIATE?
A. Like many organizations COVID-19 has challenged Family Promise to review our identifying characteristics. Some time ago Family Promise adopted a new logo with a five-pointed star. Each point represents a different characteristic that defines what Family Promise. Those characteristics are:
Q. HOW DID THIS EFFECT OTHER FAMILY PROMISE AFFILIATES?
A. EVERY Family Promise affiliate who offered shelter using a rotational model had to stop offering shelter in that manner and adjust their services.
Q. WHEN WILL YOU PROVIDE YOUR SHELTER PROGRAM AGAIN?
A. It is unlikely the rotational model will commence for some time. It is difficult to predict when, we can return to Congregations. It is our intention to return when we are able.
Q. ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS TO PROVIDE SHELTER?
A. We are exploring the possibility of sheltering families in a hotel or apartments. We are hoping to start a program modeled after a program that is occurring in Indianapolis. We hope to have a decision soon.
Q. WHAT SUPPLIES DO YOU NEED?
A. Right now, we are preparing for a winter clothing drive. You can drop off items on the following dates and locations:
- October 17: Winter Clothing Drive 9-11 am (First Emmanuel UCC, Dousman)
- October 24: Winter Clothing Drive 9-11 am (Day Center in Waukesha)
Our needs list is constantly changing. Please check our website for our needs list and social media for announcements about supply drive collections. We are also grateful that each of our support congregations are collecting supplies the week they were scheduled to host!