“I didn’t want to be just a person getting by, I wanted to LIVE and also show my children that it’s a part of life - that the harder you work, you can make things better for yourself,” former Charlotte Family Housing (CFH) Client and now Board Member, Lamont, reflects.
Thanks to CFH’s partnership with Goodwill Career Center, Lamont participated in a 12-week training program for HVAC repair and now has his own business and owns his own home.
Sheneathia, another CFH client, found herself homeless after a domestic violence situation, and thanks to CFH’s social workers, who Sheneathia describes as people having no bias who provide clarity, she has rebuilt her self-esteem and even become a homeowner in the process. According to Sheneathia, CFH is “there to help you help yourself.”
CFH strives to encourage self-sufficiency and any working parent/family experiencing homelessness with at least 1 child, who has been a resident of Mecklenburg County for at least 1 month, is free of substance abuse and does not have any sex convictions or felonies within the 3 past three years is eligible to apply.
Amidst the pandemic, Charlotte Family Housing’s doors have remained open. With COVID safety a key priority, CFH spread out the clients in the shelter phase to either stay at their primary shelter or a CFH-approved hotel. CFH continues to subsidize housing for clients who are in the transitional housing phase of the program and are saving to become independent of CFH.
Their Two-Generation Approach ensures this is not only helping the parents of the homeless family, but what makes CFH unique, is it also supports their children. The CFH partnership with Child Care Resources (CCR) ensures families have access to “safe, affordable and adequate childcare through subsidized vouchers.” The 30 for 30 Literacy Program encourages CFH parents to log the books they are reading to their children, especially during the summer to help lessen the summer regression that often takes place. There are also programs for their older children.
Teenagers are not forgotten as CFH partner, State Employees’ Credit Union, provides a Youth Financial Literacy Program for CFH youth to participate in as they create budgets, assess paystubs and spend their ‘money’ accordingly. After the simulation exercise, called “The Reality of Money,” teens often talk about how they “ran out of money” and have a new appreciation for their parents’ financial challenges.
A resource hub for scholarship opportunities, career counseling and training, financial literacy help through budgeting, and subsidized housing and other support services creates a wrap-around model to help each familial client to work toward self-sufficiency within a 1-2 year period.
“We are not a hand-out agency, we’re a hand-up agency,” Cara Capuano, CFH Communications Director explains.
Whereas federal funding for homelessness primarily supports rapid re-housing efforts, CFH is a support-services model.
“During COVID, we never broke our stride,” Capuano proudly explained. “We were able to adjust our stride and meet physical distancing requirements by nimbly adapting our services; we've stayed open and continue to accept new families. Our goal as soon as the COVID pandemic began was to ensure each of the families in our program stay stably housed, and we've been able to meet that goal.”
Reorganizing the shelter phase to maintain physical distancing requirements for families and staff, providing PPE and more sanitization doesn’t come without costs though.
“This is a shaky fundraising landscape that all nonprofits find ourselves on - new donors, resources, and relationships have shown up that we've never been able to access before, so that has been positive. But it’s directly counterbalanced with nobody knowing right now what the future holds. We want to keep our doors open and be able to help, and that will take continued generosity and support from donors and partners. Volunteering right now is such a slippery slope; CFH cannot offer in-person volunteering at the present time because our families are a vulnerable population - often having no paid sick leave, access to quality medical care, or adequate health insurance,” Capuano said.