Alpha House

year 2, week 51:  this week i'm gonna... support homeless families

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On any given night in America, over half a million people are experiencing homelessness, meaning they are sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. Many are families with children, and the average age of a homeless child is seven years old.  Within a single year, 87% of homeless children move, often up to three times, meaning changes in school, teachers, and school work. It is not surprising that they fall behind academically and start to have emotional problems.

In Michigan, Alpha House works exclusively with children and families experiencing homelessness, striving to meet their most basic needs. Alpha House efficiently and effectively provides stability for homeless parents and children living in a shelter and guides them through a plan to secure and maintain stable housing. 

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Prolonged exposure to homelessness has a significant negative effect on adults and children - the longer a household experiences homelessness, the poorer the outcomes will likely be in a variety of areas. Therefore, it is important to minimize the length of time a family is in a shelter or temporary housing. The best way to do this is through short-term programs, including financial assistance, housing search assistance, and targeted services. This approach has shown tremendous promise in resolving the immediate crisis of homelessness for many families and preventing their future returns to homelessness.

"Because of this program, I have hope, determination, optimism, and actual purpose to want to succeed. I needed this," states a former Alpha House family.

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For 25 years, Alpha House has partnered with the Washtenaw County, Michigan community to shelter and support children and families experiencing homelessness. Their mission is to end child and family homelessness through their Emergency Shelter, Rapid Re-Housing, Children’s Services, Housing Location Assistance, and Home-Based Support Programs.

Alpha House serves over forty families a year - up to six at a time - in their shelter and an additional twenty to thirty families in their Home-Based Support program. They provide intensive support services to address each family's specific needs and barriers to housing, and sets goals focused on increasing income and savings, increasing employment, and eventually securing permanent housing.  

Each year, over 2,500 volunteers from the surrounding community support Alpha House by cooking and serving meals, playing with the children, providing support and mentorship to the adults, and performing all the shelter maintenance (inside and outside).  Every volunteer reminds the Alpha House families that they are not alone in their struggles. 

To learn more about Alpha House, please watch the video below:

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The Alpha House Rapid Re-Housing model helps to get homeless families back into permanent housing with assistance that may include the use of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services. A former Alpha House resident explains the impact of the Rapid Re-Housing model: "My current situation wouldn't be possible if not for the support we received from Alpha House. Over the last two years, I was able to maintain employment, repair my credit score, obtain a valid driver's license, purchase a car, and pay off a lot of my debt. I appreciate everything and know that I will work hard to pay it forward."

Rapid Re-Housing helps people living on the streets or in emergency shelters to solve the practical and immediate challenges to obtaining permanent housing and reduces the amount of time they experience homelessness. This helps to avoid a near-term return to homelessness, linking them to community resources that enable housing stability for the long-term.

In 2016, Alpha House supported 61 families to achieve permanent housing. As one family says,"There needs to be an Alpha House in every city." 

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Notes for this week:

  • December 21st is National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day (the longest night of the year).
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor one night of shelter for approximately 30 children.
  • For more information on Alpha House, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to Alpha House.

please share the givetwig awesomeness!