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Working Together: Congregations helping families through new program

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jul 19, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 may have changed how Hoosiers help those in need but it certainly hasn't put a damper on Hoosier hospitality.

One local organization has launched a new program to help families trying to get on their feet during this time.

As congregations found themselves closing during the coronavirus pandemic, though one door might have shut others have opened for Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis.

"We were only going to start with one unit but because of COVID we sped it up and started with 10," Veronica Williams, program manager, said.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network used to host families at churches and temples but because of COVID-19 all of that has changed. Now, they are able to help more families.

Leola Jimenez and her family moved in on July 10. They were new to the city and just trying to make ends meet before hearing about the apartment shelter project.

"The money ran out, we had nowhere to go and I was worried about my son," Jimenez said.

Now the entire family is comfortable in an apartment unit and that means baby Danny is happy as his parents work to get back on their feet.

"Normally, we have 30 churches and temples that work with us to provide transportation, food, and shelter for families," Williams said. "When COVID happened that stopped because we wanted to keep our volunteers safe, more importantly, our families."

Now those families are safe and sound living in apartment units.

"We rent out units in our name and we have been using that as emergency shelter," Williams said.

Each family gets up to 90 days to focus all of their attention and savings on securing a permanent place. Family Promise guides them every step of the way to set them up for success once they leave the program.

"We are actually operating at a rate of 89 percent that's the highest we've ever been in terms of people being successfully housed," Williams said. "We worked with different partnerships, one of them being Mustard Seed, they furnished the units. We have 1,500 volunteers and those 30 congregations that worked to put all the rest of the housing items in here."

"I don't remember the last time I got to cook in the kitchen, it has been that long," Jimenez said. "It makes us feel like we are family."

Now that these families have their peace of mind back the possibilities are endless."

Glick Philanthropies donated the unit we were able to see. RTV6 was told the apartment shelter program is actually more cost effective than a traditional shelter.