Thursday, March 18, 2010

Churches aim to help homeless families

From Montana-

A group of volunteers from area churches has agreed to take part in a new program aimed at helping homeless families find shelter and get back on their feet.

The city’s lack of a family emergency shelter and a place for women with sons has served as a point of contention for years. While solutions once seemed close at hand, few if any have materialized.

“Homelessness is so multifaceted, there isn’t a single answer,” said Liz Moore, chairwoman of the Helena Action Coalition on Homelessness. “If there was, we would have already come up with it.”

But a new program known as Family Promise and the volunteers it has enlisted could finally put a dent in homelessness in Helena. Five area churches have signed into the program to provide food and shelter to homeless families.

Under the program, each church would take a weeklong shift offering breakfast, dinner and a place to sleep to those accepted into the program. Ideally, Moore said, the program needs 10 local churches for the model to work, though 12 churches would be ideal.
“It’s one piece of the puzzle,” Moore said. “There are many folks who this program wouldn’t be an option for.”

The program is intended for families needing a fresh start. It’s not intended for people with untreated chemical dependency or mental illness. Nor can participating churches serve as a safe house for women fleeing new cases of domestic violence.

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