Family Promise helps Montana families facing homelessness
HELENA – Over the past year, more and more families at risk of homelessness in the Helena area are turning to Family Promise for help. Right now, they are experimenting with a pilot program to help families at risk before they become homeless.
The non-profit organization, which helps homeless families and children with temporary shelter, food and essential services, has been busier than usual since the start of the pandemic according to staff. In light of recent housing shortages, Family Promise has found itself with a shortage of volunteers and a surplus of those struggling to find housing.
“Probably since the pandemic we have a great need for our services, we are a completely voluntary organization in addition to the two employees, we really rely on volunteers to come and help us we will not be able to do our job without it,” said Randall Rake, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Family Promise.
Rake says the organization has received more phone calls from families in need of help.
“Since COVID hit it has more than quadrupled, in a week I’ll be getting at least 10 phone calls,” said Kimberly Woods, lawyer for the Family Promise family.
Family Promise has helped 30 families since May and we are working with seven more now, on everything from mediation to finances and budgeting. This includes landlord mediation, financial literacy, child care, job training, and help accessing rent assistance.
The nonprofit hired an assistant lawyer in May to help with case processing and relations with partner agencies.
One of the program participants, Leon Higginbotham, says the program gives him the opportunity to start from scratch.
“It was like a godsend because I really didn’t know what to do and I was kind of like… I was trying to make a lot of tough choices and decisions that weren’t working,” Higginbotham said.
Prevention program member Ashley Moniz says the organization has helped make her new life possible. Family Promise gives advice to participants on how to obtain certain necessities such as a driver’s license, social security number, housing or a car.
“It has completely changed my life and I have no idea what I would be like without Kim and Renee,” Moniz said.
“To be able to see people in a bad situation and three or four months later they get back on their feet, they move into a house, the kids are happy, the parents are happy, that’s a good feeling,” Rake said. .
Family Promise currently hosts four families in area churches and its day center, has 35 families on a Helena housing list and nine more families living in cars on a waiting list.
Click here to visit the Family Promise of Helena website.
Click here to visit the Great Falls Family Promise website.