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Families who can't afford start-up costs of stable housing may have a new option
Family Promise using matching grant to help families in need
Family Promise grant
Family Promise of Hall County, a nonprofit that helps homeless families, recently received a matching grant that will help the nonprofit provide start-up housing costs for families in need. Family Promise Executive Director Lindsey McCamy, left, accepted the check from Michelle Prater, the North Georgia Community Foundation's president and CEO. - photo by For The Times

Family Promise of Hall County will use a grant matched by the North Georgia Community Foundation to help families with rent or start-up costs of moving into a new home.

The nonprofit received a $20,000 grant earlier this year from Help Us Move In, a Washington-based organization that helps homeless children. The matching grant from the foundation will allow Family Promise to help families move into a stable home or keep their current living arrangement.

According to Help Us Move In, about 2.5 million U.S. children experience homelessness each year, and the average age of a homeless person is 9. 

Participants in Family Promise’s 90-day program save up for housing, but move-in costs and other bills still add up quickly for families, according to Lindsey McCamy, executive director of Family Promise of Hall County, a nonprofit that helps homeless families.

“It is still so hard for them to come up with the full month’s rent in advance … to turn on the water, the power —  all that is very expensive to just be able to come up with after 90 days of saving,” McCamy said.

For example, if a family’s rental home costs $800 a month, the security deposit could be as much as $1,600 if two months’ rent is requested upfront, McCamy said. That’s an amount many families cannot afford, she said.

A housing study from the Urban Land Institute Atlanta and the United Way of Hall County found that about 40% of Hall’s population cannot afford a rent of more than $875 a month without being cost-burdened. 

According to HUMI data, the national average to rehouse a family is $11,000 to $16,000. Hall’s median household income is just under $60,000, according to 2019 census estimates.

The main goal of the new program, McCamy said, is to keep families out of homeless shelters by helping them afford more permanent housing. The funds will be split between paying for move-in expenses and eviction prevention. Families who receive assistance will meet with case managers.

The new housing assistance program will not be restricted to participants from Family Promise’s 90-day program, although participating families will be referred to the program if they need help. McCamy said it is also an opportunity for Family Promise to work with other organizations to identify families in need.

“Maybe another agency comes forward and says, ‘We feel this family is a good fit;’ we’ll meet with them,” McCamy said. “Maybe (the other nonprofit) can help do a little bit of the money, maybe the family can help a little bit, so it’s another good collaborative way to work together to keep families in their home.”

Family Promise can be reached at 770-535-0786.

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