Family Promise House
Project offers solace to homeless families
Delaware County Family Promise and Delaware County Habitat for Humanity are working together to renovate a house that will provide temporary shelter to up to five local families at a time while they look for employment and permanent housing. At the North Washington Street site are (from left): Steve Perkins, construction manager for Delaware County Habitat for Humanity; Jennifer Sami, executive director of Family Promise; Tonia Wilson, a Family Promise social worker; and Todd Miller, executive director of Habitat. Buy This Photo
The only organization in Delaware County to provide temporary housing for the homeless will begin renovations this month on its first official home.
An "eyesore" house at 39 N. Washington St. was purchased in March by Delaware County Habitat for Humanity and Delaware County Family Promise and will be transformed into housing for up to five homeless families, with services to assist them in getting back on their feet.
Jennifer Sami, executive director of Family Promise, said the organization provides essential services to about 40 families a year. Its current model involves moving the families from church to church on a weekly basis.
All the families served have children under the age of 18.
"These families are already in chaos and crisis mode, and it adds additional chaos to uproot their children each week," Sami said. "It distracts them from the focus of getting jobs and housing."
The program is employment-focused, and the Family Promise House will provide a full-time social worker to help the families look for housing and jobs daily.
"Having one place to serve our families is a more-effective and compassionate way to serve them," Sami said. "I think it will add to the success of the families."
Todd Miller, executive director of Delaware County Habitat for Humanity, said he thinks the house is needed in Delaware County.
"The need is there," he said. "I honestly think there are a lot of families that are a few paychecks away from finding themselves in a homeless situation.
"I, for one, will sleep better knowing there is a place for homeless families in Delaware County."
Habitat for Humanity is the contractor for the project and will work to provide volunteers and financial assistance, contributing half the funds needed to fix up the home.
Miller said Habitat officials are excited about making an impact on homelessness in Delaware County.
"Normally, we only provide families with long-term solutions, and this is a way to provide services to families on a short-term basis," he said.
Sami said families will be able to stay for 30 days with the possibility of an extension to 90 days, depending on their progress.
"The expectation is that these families are looking for employment and a home," she said. "We have a 75-percent success rate."
The organizations hope area businesses, churches and community members will be willing to donate their money, time, skills or materials to the project.
"I hope the community will take a step forward to help accomplish this project by donating money or sharing their time and talents," Miller said. "Delaware County needs this."
The project is scheduled to be complete by spring. Groundbreaking took place Friday, Sept. 7, and interior demolition will begin at the end of the month.
Sami said there are enough funds to complete the demolition and to meet building codes, but more financial support will be needed to finish the interior.
Those interested in volunteering to work on the house or donating items may call Miller at 740-362-9950, ext. 224.