Updated school statistics tell us that approximately one of every 26 Whatcom County children experienced homelessness for all or part of the 2015-2016 school year. That’s a worrying increase from one in 32 during the 2014-2015 school year.
Locally and nationally, children make up a growing segment of the homeless population. Interfaith Coalition has provided temporary and transitional housing to hundreds of local children and parents. But our resources are outpaced by the growing number of homeless families in our community.
To help meet this urgent need, we are developing a partnership with Family Promise, an organization helping faith groups directly serve homeless families in over 200 communities nationwide. Family Promise helps religious congregations to use their buildings and resources to provide temporary shelter, meals and companionship to homeless families. During the day, families go to a day center and work with a case manager to access housing, jobs and community resources. This grassroots approach is extremely cost-effective because it relies on existing facilities and volunteers. And like Interfaith’s own housing program, Family Promise also keeps homeless children and their parents together in a supportive environment while they work to get back on their feet.
Local Family Promise affiliates are usually built from the ground up over several years. But with Interfaith’s existing coalition of faith groups, our strong relationships with local agencies and our thirty-five year history of working with homeless families, we are ideally suited to quickly develop and administer a Family Promise affiliate here in Whatcom County. With a new affiliate up and running in Skagit County, we will also have the benefit of nearby neighbors who can share valuable experience. Our goal is to begin to serve additional families experiencing homelessness beginning April 2018.
We currently have 13 host congregations and 10 support congregations who want to be part of Whatcom County’s new Family Promise affiliate. Do you or your congregation want to get involved in this exciting new program? Contact us at 360-734-3983. For more information, please check out the Family Promise of Whatcom County website