A home changes everything.
- Makes full time work possible
- Children do better in school
- Family health improves
- Relationships prosper
- Quality time as a family improves
We have housed over 150 working families in our Hospitality Houses since 1987.
Here’s something not many people know: Nearly all the shelters and transitional housing programs in NJ require payment, typically $50/person/night. This fee is most commonly paid for by public assistance, which eliminates the working homeless, who are not eligible. These households have very few other options for housing even though they have an income and are motivated to be self-sufficient.
The struggle of the “working poor” was highlighted in a 2012 study, called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed), authored by Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, the director of the New Jersey DataBank at Rutgers University. It found that in the city of Elizabeth alone 51% or 20,557 households are part of the working poor; the estimate for Union County is 22%. These are the families that come to us for help each year. Click Here for the ALICE Report
The cost of housing can take more than one half of a household’s income, so there is not much left for food, transportation, childcare or healthcare. One unexpected expense can put the family on the path to eviction. These households have no financial slack; no savings, no assets and no relatives who are able to help. And short-term shelter does not solve their problems. These households need time to pay down debt, find new or better employment and save money for the deposit on a new apartment.
The Coalition’s Hospitality House Program does not charge a fee. We provide temporary, supervised housing so that the family can stay together, the caregivers can continue to work or look for work, they can pay down debt, build savings and the children can continue in their school. We strongly believe this population deserves the investment. Without it, more families will fall into poverty and the impossible dependency on government benefits.
The program’s goal is always the same – to return the household to self-sufficiency– but each family’s individual “journey” is different. They may have financial debts to pay off, health issues to resolve or job skills training/certification to complete. On average, families will remain in our housing for about a year.
A Hospitality House Success Story -The Bellamy Family
Maria and Jacques Bellamy and their four children had been homeless for several years before coming to the Coalition. Jacques had a full time job for many years in a stockroom and Maria worked as many shifts as possible at a local hospital during times her husband was home with the kids.
But living on $2,500 a month is very difficult when rent is $1,000. After the husband was laid off, they lost their small apartment. Other local agencies gave them temporary shelter or food but no one could help them solve the bigger problem. The Coalition’s Hospitality House Program was the comprehensive solution they needed.
After only a few months in our program, Jacques found a full-time job at a local warehouse and Maria completed her Nursing Assistant certification. They have stuck to their household budget and have saved almost enough for a deposit on a new apartment. This skill will serve them well when they move out in the near future.
Their resilient older kids have been regular attendees in the Coalition’s Children’s Program where they enjoy Scouts, Drama Club and Book club. All three ended the last school year with honors. And two-year old Clarette is learning to talk and is all smiles now.
Many of the families we see are like the Bellamys; desperate, frustrated and tired of being passed from one quick fix to another. Staying in our Hospitality House gave the Bellamys the chance to start over and get back to living independently.
The Bellamy kids are happy again – after 2 years in shelters while their parents struggled to keep the family together