One Village One Family
More than 1,000 children in the Poudre School District (on average) experience homelessness each year. What’s more, those children (and their families) struggle to escape homelessness in the context of record-low vacancy rates — in Fort Collins and surrounding communities — and wages that have not risen in stride with housing costs. Almost 9,000 households that rent and earn less than $25,000 a year cannot find an affordable place to live in Fort Collins. About 1,500 are on waiting lists for housing assistance. More than half of residents who are low-income and many who are homeless and working do not earn enough to afford housing in Fort Collins.
The One Village One Family program unites community stakeholders and empowers families who are homeless to secure and retain housing.
“After the ugliest storm can come the prettiest rainbow.” – Kim One Village One Family participant
In 2006, as trends similar to those in Fort Collins (rising housing costs, significant numbers of families experiencing homelessness) plagued Denver, the then-Mayor’s office — through an initiative known as Denver’s Road Home — launched a new, innovative approach to ending family homelessness: they began pairing volunteer teams from the faith community with families who were homeless. Each volunteer team worked with one family, raising money for up-front housing costs and providing intensive support (emotional, logistical or otherwise) for six months. The program was aptly titled One Congregation One Family, and it quickly spread to multiple organizations and communities throughout the state. In less than 10 years, the program and its offshoots helped more than 1,000 families escape homelessness.
Homeless Gear launched the program in October 2014. We elected to change the name, however, to One Village One Family (OVOF), in recognition of the fact that any group of adults, including but not limited to faith-based groups, could form effective volunteer teams (“villages,” as we call them).
Homeless Gear recruits volunteers from community organizations: churches, civic groups, social organizations, neighborhoods, companies… any group of compassionate adults that wants to participate! Those volunteers form teams, or “villages,” of four-to-six people, and each village supports one family — referred through community partners or directly from Homeless Gear — to escape homelessness and retain housing.
Villages raise money to help families with up-front housing costs, participate in a formal classroom training session, learn from a Village Handbook and other resource materials, and receive oversight and support from our OVOF Program Manager at every step along the way. Families and volunteers are pre-screened and interviewed prior to entering the program.
Do you represent, or are you a part of, a family that might benefit from this program? In order to be eligible for the program, a family must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Have legal custody of at least one child age 17 or younger living in the household.
- Have a combination of reliable income and non-expiring aid that can support the living expenses and long term monthly rental payments (average $1,050 for two bedrooms or average $650 with housing voucher).
- Cannot already have a rent/lease agreement or own a home.
- Cannot have any recent violent felony convictions against them.
- Must be willing and committed to meet with a volunteer team in the community a minimum of seven times and be generally receptive to/in need of support for at least a six-month period.
- Must include at least one caregiver who resides legally in the United States.
The following document (presented in English and Spanish) provides more information — for potential participants and referral agencies — on the OVOF program, its benefits and its expectations:
Families can apply directly to the program by contacting our OVOF Program Manager, Diane Matthews, by email at Diane@HomelessGear.org or by phone at (970) 829-8934. Participants can also be referred to the program through other Homeless Gear programs or by any of the agencies listed on this page.
- Form or participate in a village
- Financially sponsor a village and family (help a family to secure stable, permanent and sustainable housing)
- Rent a property to a family in the program
- Spread the word — tell your friends, family members, co-workers and others!
Are you part of a church, organization, company, civic group, club or other group that might want to form a mentor team, or “village”? Contact Diane, by email at Diane@HomelessGear.org or by phone at (970) 829-8934, to get the process started!
- Support families to locate and establish secure and permanent housing
- Help connect families with other community resources that might be beneficial to them
- Help families regain self-sufficiency
- Help families re-acclimate back into the community
What is Expected of a Village?
Villages are the backbone of the One Village One Family program. Villages are expected to
- Commit to at least six months of service (more if needed to achieve program goals)
- Participate in a formal, 3+ hour, interactive, classroom-style training session
- Establish a village lead who will serve as a liaison between the village and the Homeless Gear team
- Furnish background checks for all village team members (about $7 each)
- Provide a village roster of participants (group affiliation, name, email, and phone with group leader identified)
- Raise $1,500 to assist family with up-front housing costs (Scholarships may be available)
- Meet with family once-per-month for approximately 6 months; support them through topical areas of need which could include discussions on personal finances, budgeting, nutrition, literacy, family developing, housing search and others
- Call the family once-per-week, in between meetings, to check on progress toward goals and help resolve problems
Characteristics of Effective Volunteers
Just as the families we serve, our villages are diverse; they come from a wide range of backgrounds and possess a variety of skills and interests. Generally speaking, however, volunteers should:
- Have a compassion and commitment to help people who are homeless
- Treat all people with dignity and respect
- Work collaboratively with other village members, the Homeless Gear team and other service providers
- Possess a strong desire to build relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness
- Be encouraging, trustworthy, reliable, patient, nonjudgmental, flexible, relaxed, tactful, resourceful, calm and assertive
- OVOF Application
- OVOF Income Expectations
- OVOF Family Orientation Guide
- OVOF Family Orientation Guide (Spanish)
Village and Training Documents
- Village Guidebook
- Training PowerPoint
- Parenting Resource Guide
- Financial Resource Guide
- Health and Nutrition Resource Guide
- Literacy Resource Guide
- OVOF Family Resources
- Larimer County Rental Property Resource Packet (Courtesy of Neighbor to Neighbor)
- Community Resource Packet (Courtesy of Neighbor to Neighbor)
- Diane Matthews, OVOF Program Manager
- Email: Diane@HomelessGear.org
- Phone: (970) 829-8934