Every day, the Day Center of Family Promsie of Greater Indianapolis receives 10 calls from families that staff has to turn away because the shelter program is at maximum capacity. Other family shelters in Central Indiana share similar call rates. Staff and volunteers record each family turned away with a tally mark on a sheet at the reception desk.
Every one of those families has at least one child. Some are sleeping in a car. Some are couch-surfing with family or friends, moving frequently. Others are depleting their little savings at weekly stay motels. Some families we helped reported riding the IndyGo bus until it makes its last stop, then are literally on the street or in campgrounds.
These families are often hidden from our view. This year, more than 2.5 million children in the United States will experience homelessness. Homelessness increases the likelihood that families will separate or dissolve. It increases the probability that children will fall behind in school, eventually dropping out. As the gap between housing costs and income continues to widen, more and more families are at risk of falling off this figurative cliff.
WHAT IS BEING DONE?
Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis (FPGI) is one nonprofit agency in a larger regional response to this crisis.
First, FPGI serves dozens of families per year, but has a strategic plan in place to expand in a way that does not sacrifice quality of services. This can alleviate as much as 5-10% of the need because many of the families that call-in are repeat callers for weeks waiting for a spot. Helping fifteen families more per year, with a housing retention rate greater than 85% after two years, means that a significant difference is being made.
Second, FPGI is part of a collaborative project called the Continuum of Care (CoC). The CoC is established by representatives of relevant organizations within the City of Indianapolis to address homelessness through a coordinated community-based process of identifying needs and building a system of housing and service that addresses those needs. The organizing body - the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) - facilitates this response through leading the execution of Blueprint 2, a comprehensive plan to address the need in the Indianapolis community. FPGI is proud to be a part of the Indy CoC.