A Delaware nonprofit group dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families achieve lasting independence is on the verge of getting a home of its own.

A Delaware nonprofit group dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families achieve lasting independence is on the verge of getting a home of its own.

Family Promise has been working during the day out of a North Washington Street building owned by the First Presbyterian Church. In the evenings, it has transported families to a variety of sleeping quarters. The arrangement has been less than ideal.

"We had two families with infants under a year old recently," said executive director Jennifer Sami. "We packed them up and you can imagine what that was like, with cribs and playpens and bottles and diapers and clothes, stuffing everything into our van.

"One of the young mothers looked at me and said, 'So now we're going to where we will stay for good?' And I had to tell her, 'No, sweetheart, we'll have to move you again next week.' She just looked so defeated. We've often had to move families from Galena one night to Olentangy the next to Sunbury after that."

Enter Habitat for Humanity.

"We first heard from First Presbyterian about a year ago that they needed the space we'd been using during the day," Sami said. "So we partnered with Habitat for Humanity and identified a building next door (at 39 N. Washington St.) that was unoccupied and could be converted to suit our purpose."

Family Promise plans to go before Delaware City Council on Monday to secure a conditional use permit for the property.

The house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Extensive interior improvements will include the addition of a communal kitchen, a common open space and offices for both Sami and social worker Tonia Wilson.

"We've often been limited to assisting three families at a time, because even if one church could sleep six families, the next week another church might only be able to sleep three," Sami said. "Now we'll be able to assist five families at all times."

Family Promise is assisted by a "host" and "support" congregations, including Grace United Methodist Church, St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran, St. Mary Catholic Church, Delaware City Vineyard and Highpoint Nazarene.

The host congregations no longer will house families but will "continue to provide overnight supervision," Sami said. Support churches provide hot meals and other forms of assistance to the families.

Nationally, the Family Promise network comprises independent affiliates in 41 states with more than 150,000 volunteers. In its 20-year history, Family Promise has served more than 400,000 individuals, most of them children.

Delaware Family Promise has a success rate of 75 percent in finding homes, Sami said, with an average length of stay of 27 days.

"It's important to stress that we're not a shelter, we're a program," she said. "We provide social services for our families during the day and hot meals and shelter at night. We help families find jobs and sustainable housing. We have a screening process. We don't accept walk-ups."

Sami said she expects that 75- percent success rate will eventually rise to match Family Promise's national rate of 83 percent, especially after its new building is complete.

"The thing I'd tell you about the families that we work with, they are families just like our own," she said. "They are families who have been dealt a pretty hard hand. But with a combination of accountability and support, we work to help them achieve independence."