The mission of Homestretch is to empower homeless families with children under the age of 18 in Virginia to attain permanent housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge and hope they need to become productive participants in the community.
Family homelessness is almost always a consequence of three things. First, families become homeless after suffering a crisis such as the loss of a job, domestic violence, or an accident. Second, this crisis triggers an economic spiral where they find themselves unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and other essentials. And third, the family has a lack of social support networks they can rely on. In other words, they have no family or friends they can move in with. For a family with young children to end up homeless can be devastating.
Maria finally fled with her daughter after suffering years of physical abuse from her husband. They found themselves in the Fairfax County homeless shelter system where they were desperate, frightened, and alone. And then they were referred to Homestretch. At Homestretch the family was provided with temporary housing and our skilled team helped Maria get a job, learn English, and study accounting. In the two years she was with Homestretch, Maria had the time she needed to address all the barriers she faced and make extraordinary progress. She graduated from Homestretch a couple of years ago and today Maria owns her own home and is a loan officer writing more than a $1 million a month in mortgages.
The overall statistics demonstrate the impact of our work.
Some critical numbers that help tell the story of success include:
While families with the least difficult challenges are being rapidly rehoused out of the shelter system, the most challenging cases are referred to Homestretch. Homestretch is commonly sent families with no work history, few marketable skills, chronic health issues, and significant emotional trauma. Some may not speak English.
Homestretch is a Transformational Housing program. Housing is a vital component of the Homestretch program, but we see housing as the critical foundation upon which all the other work that leads to transformational change for homeless families takes place.
Homestretch operates on the belief that high expectations produce outstanding achievements. For this reason, compliance with some of our services is mandatory. All our clients are expected to make strides toward self-sufficiency. Families coming into Homestretch understand that they must change certain things in their lives in order to achieve lasting safety and independence. Each adult, if physically able, is expected to work 40 hours a week or do a combination of 40 hours of work and schooling designed to significantly increase their earning power. Ten percent of the family income is placed into a managed savings account that Homestretch uses to pay down their debt and later sets aside to establish a nest egg for when they move into their own home. Another 30 percent of their income is required for rent.
The Homestretch program holds both our clients and our staff accountable for excellent results leading to client debt reduction and income growth. As debts are reduced and income grows, the family moves toward self-sufficiency. To insure progress, our talented staff provides each family with the individualized resources and supports they need to make transformative changes. A rich tapestry of services is provided: