PROGRAM START (OCTOBER 2014) TO DATE:
Helped ten families (including 28 children) escape homelessness and secure stable housing; paired 13 villages with families
According to 2010-2014 statistics, 1025 children in the Poudre School District (on average) experienced homelessness each year and qualified for assistance under the McKinney-Vento Act. As per the McKinney Act, a homeless individual is one who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate residence:
Fixed- a residence that is stationary, permanent and not subject to change.
Regular- A residence that is used on a regular nightly basis.
Adequate- residence that is sufficient in meeting both physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments
Share housing (doubled up) with friends or relatives due to the loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason.
Live in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations.
Live in emergency or transitional shelters/transitional housing programs.
Abandoned in hospitals.
Live in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.
Have a primary residence that is not designed for, or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
High demand for rental housing has lowered vacancy rates from more than 12% in 2003 to 2.9% in 2014 and driven monthly rental rates to record highs. The monthly median rent is $1,056. Healthy rental markets have a 5% vacancy rate. (CO Division of Housing’s Multifamily Rent and Vacancy Report) 8,838 households that rent and earn less than $25,000 a year can’t find an affordable place to live in FC. 1,500 are on waiting lists for housing assistance. More than half of residents who are poor and many who are homeless but working do not earn enough to afford housing in FC. (Social Sustainability Gaps Analysis, city of FC )
The program was launched in 2006 in Denver under its original name: One Congregation One Family (OCOF). It has since expanded to multiple communities throughout Colorado. When HG launched the program in October of 2014 we elected to change the name to OVOF in recognition of the fact that any group of adults, including but not limited to faith-based groups, can form effective mentor teams. Statewide the program has led to over 1,000 families securing stable housing with 87% of the families maintaining housing after the first year. Statewide to date, 350 mentor groups have served more than 2,600 family members. A successful pilot program was completed in Fort Collins in 2012 and in October of 2014 the OVOF program was officially launched becoming the 6th in HG’s family of programs.
The structure of the program is simple. Homeless Gear recruits volunteers from community organizations (churches, civic groups, social organizations, neighborhoods, companies… any group of compassionate adults that wants to participate) and forms mentor teams or “villages” of 4-to-6 people. After the villages are formed our certified trainers prepare the village members with a formal classroom training session, mentor guidebook, and other resource materials. Meanwhile, partner agencies (listed under the “How Do I Get Help” section below) pre-screens and refers homeless families to HG for possible inclusion in the OVOF program. Once accepted into the program, each family is matched with a certified village. The villages raise money to help their families get into housing (first month’s rent, security deposit, etc.) and then provide about six months of ongoing, structured mentoring.
Mentor and 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
Be the catalyst to Form A Village
Financially Sponsor A Village & Family (and by doing so you will help that family to secure stable, permanent and sustainable housing)
Do You Have Rental Property? Rent To One Of Our Families
Spread The Word About OVOF To Others That Could Help Us
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 Ken, by email at Ken@HomelessGear.org or by phone at (970) 581-4921, to get the process started!
Mentor teams, or “villages,” are the backbone of the One Village One Family program. Each village–comprised of 4 to 6 people–is assigned to a homeless family in the program. Villages are expected to:
Commit to at least a six month mentorship program with the family (more if needed to achieve program goals)
Participate in a formal, 3+ hour, interactive, classroom-style training session
Establish a village lead person who will serve as a liaison between the village and the HG support group
Furnish background checks for all village team members (about $7 each)
Furnish a village roster of participants (group affiliation, name, email, and phone with group leader identified
Raise $1,500 to assist family with rental deposit requirements (Scholarships may be available)
Meet with family once-per-month for approximately 6 months; mentor 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
Just as the families we serve, our mentors are diverse; they come from a wide range of backgrounds and possess a variety of skills and interests. Generally speaking, however, mentors should:
Have a compassion and commitment to help the 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 the families they serve
Be encouraging, trustworthy, reliable, patient, nonjudgmental, flexible, relaxed, tactful, resourceful, calm and assertive
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 family’s living expenses and long term monthly rental payments (average $1,050 for two bedrooms or average $650 with housing voucher).
The family cannot already have a rent/lease agreement in their name (or own a home).
Family caregivers cannot have any recent violent felony convictions against them.
Family must be willing and committed to meet with a mentoring team in the community at a minimum of seven times and be generally receptive to receiving mentoring support and guidance over at least a 6 month period after being approved.
At least one of the family caregivers must be legally residing 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:
OVOF Family Orientation Guide
OVOF Family Orientation Guide (Spanish)
OVOF Family Resources