Adopt-a-family, rebuild a life
Adopt-A-Family is the name of our rapid re-housing program. The idea is to move families from emergency shelter to housing security as quickly as possible in order to stabilize their situation and provide them – and us – with a sound foundation for building in needed services. To structure supports around families in their new homes, we draw on a wide variety of community resources, and that’s where “adoption” comes in. A church may “adopt” the family’s need for apartment furnishings. Transportation needs may be “adopted” by Bridges volunteers. Helping foreign-born families acculturate in the U.S. is another important area for “adoption.” Improving English skills is just part of the picture. For some refugee families, nearly everything is new and strange – the currency, food choices, home appliances, and so many other aspects of daily living.
The core of rapid re-housing, though, is building bridges that can take families to financially secure, independent futures. Money management, job training, and living-wage employment are the keys. A first step is requiring clients to hold the rental agreements in their own names and budget 30% of income toward rent. This not only involves taking financial responsibility; it also builds credit worthiness. At the same time, Bridges requires participation in our in-depth financial literacy, job readiness, and career development programming.
Then, when clients are ready to leave, we help them find their own affordable housing. This usually involves advocating with property managers and landlords to accept them, and walking them through the steps for securing rent subsidies and other assistance.
Finally, for those clients who dream of buying their own home, Bridges conducts annual workshops covering the process and responsibilities of home ownership. Since its inception, the Adopt-A-Family program has helped more than 40 families become homeowners!