Project Everlast has been providing grants to partner organizations in Omaha since the program began. One of these partners is Heartland Family Service. Their Passages program, which is funded 100% by Project Everlast, provides housing assistance to homeless state wards or former state wards. During the Passages pilot that spanned October 2011-September 2012, many families benefited from housing help. Families like Julie and her newborn son.
When Julia came to the Passages program, she was about to age out of foster care. With no family support and state support being pulled on her 19th birthday, Julia and her newborn son were facing certain homelessness. This young, vulnerable family had nowhere to go.
The Passages program was developed by Heartland Family Service to serve the unique needs of youth aging out of foster care who are facing imminent homelessness. It’s a common occurrence for state wards to become homeless by the time they turn 21. And housing insecurity leads to a host of negative outcomes, including low educational achievement, chronic unemployment, unwanted pregnancies and criminal behavior. Passages provides financial assistance for rent, rental deposits and utilities for clients for up to 5 months, making secure housing a reality for those who need time for more permanent solutions. In the pilot period, Heartland Family Services housing programs were able to provide $57,204 in financial assistance to house 33 families.
The program found Julia and her son their own apartment as soon as she was accepted into the program. With help from Passages contact, Julia moved in that week. It was her first time living on her own, so Julia was nervous. But her excitement took over, and she made the apartment a home, getting a crib and toys for her son.
Within two months, Julia moved off the wait list for subsidized housing and received her acceptance letter. With long-term housing firmly in place, she started to make progress in other areas in her life – securing a part-time job, starting school to become a medical assistant, and continually working with her case worker.
It’s clear that Julia is on the right path to giving her son the stable, secure home that he needs to have a chance in life. And now, she has a better understanding of the resources available to make sure her son is prepared for success in school.
Overall, the program encouraged marked increases in monthly income, employment and benefits received by those who participated. And it makes sense. Shelter is a fundamental requirement. Once this need is met, people are in a position to start building a self-sufficient life.
Learn more about the services available to youth aging out of foster care. Visit the Project Everlast Statewide Services Directory.
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Would love to invite Nebraska Children & Families Foundation to use and distribute Smile At Your Baby!’s daily BABY BIT messages at your own discretion. Smile At Your Baby! is all about ACES prevention! Check us out at http://www.facebook.com/smile.at.your.baby (website down at the moment) and by all means feel free to get in touch!
Keep up the great work!
Shelley Calissendorff, Founder & Executive Director, Smile At Your Baby!