Apartment Shelter Program
Pioneering a new model for shelter that maximizes the dignity of the family.
Why try to decrease the length of stay in shelter for kids and families, when you can seemingly eliminate "shelter" and its trauma altogether?
In June 2020, Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis began a program to rent ten apartments in the name of the organization. Congregations and corporations procured the housewares and furnishings. Mustard Seed of Central Indiana provided the furniture. Today, thanks to the annual #NightWithoutABed fundraiser and generous support from Glick Philanthropies, the program operates 20 apartments around Indianapolis. Each apartment is used as a temporary homeless shelter for a family with children, all but eliminating the trauma associated with a shelter experience. Parents can cook their own food, can get their own toilet paper out of the closet, and do not fear theft or violence. A mom or dad can even take the overtime offered while their 16-year old watches their 10-year old a couple hours after school--something not allowed in almost any traditional shelter.
The family works with a case manager to secure permanent housing as soon as possible (generally 30 to 90 days). The case manager also provides referrals and transportation to wraparound services like mental health evaluation/treatment, physicals/immunizations, childcare/school enrollment, employment search/prep/retention, and more. If the guest family wants to stay in the apartment and take over the lease, that's ideal. They keep the furnishings. If they find a new place, Family Promise provides them with a Mustard Seed referral for furniture, Goodwill vouchers for housewares, and more. The now vacant apartment and its furnishings become a shelter for the next family that calls.
Isn't that very expensive compared to a traditional shelter? Not at all...
The total annual operating cost for renting and furnishing 10 apartments (plus all the other operational/overhead/fundraising costs) for a year was compared to the budgets of local family shelters, controlling for number of families served. The Apartment Shelter Project was 30% lower than the expenses for a traditional shelter. Why? Though the property costs of renting apartments is high, the personnel savings more than make up for it. There is no evening shift, night shift, or professional cook needed.
What about drugs, alcohol, damages, or loss of urgency risks that increase when a family lives independent? Ironic question...
Strange, we don't ask that question when a landlord is ready and willing to approve a family for housing! Instead, we create a way to support that family from a home of their own. This project takes the same approach to providing the supports--both accountability and encouragement--to help them be successful. We do random drug testing, weekly property condition walk-throughs, and set weekly goals. Financial incentives (first month's rent, security deposit) are built into the program to encourage compliance with the guidelines.
Why rent on the private market? Why not do a capital campaign for a small apartment building to cut property costs seemingly forever? Because stability...
Every effort needs to be made to reduce the transitions for the family, as they are disruptive to school attendance, employment retention, health appointments, and more. By renting on the private market, there is a chance the family can take over the lease. If they do, you have then successfully eliminated their "shelter" stay, and replaced it with simply a move to a furnished apartment, while still supporting the parent(s) and children along the way, even for two more years with Family Promise's home-based AfterCare program. This pre-leasing an apartment is actually the model used by refugee resettlement programs throughout the United States.
It preserves dignity. It is cost-effective. And it also happens to be an intervention perfectly suited for a pandemic.
Thank you for your prayers and support to get this program off the ground with a $115,000 Night Without a Bed fundraiser in April 2020. Thank you as well to The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate for a $25,000 grant in seed money, as well as the Ahrendts Couch Foundation who matched that to provide food. Thank you to Gene B. Glick Company for donating apartments in-kind, as well as New Bridge Apartments. Everyone at Family Promise will be working hard to see that it helps as many families as possible, with as much compassion as possible...
Because every child deserves a home.
also exists for 3BR and 4BR
see reasoning for this in Legal Opinion immediately above
(for easy copy/paste into SignupGenius, which congregation/company teams use to get housewares)
Note: Property Condition Report - Did not create this form because it's provided by landlord at lease signing; Instead of having guest family sign off on an additional form, FP staff record and upload a video of the unit before intake.