This blog provides the top 5 highlights or updates about Family Promise of Waukesha County for Friday August 12, 2022.
The stories you can read this week are:
How will you advocate for families experiencing homelessness?
Our mission is to help low-income families and families experiencing homelessness achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response.
1. ADVOCACY WEEK
August 14-20 is Family Promise Advocacy Week. The focus on advocacy is a way to look at the root causes of homelessness and seek solutions. Often advocacy focuses on the systems and structures that can lead to or make it difficult to escape the bonds of homelessness.
At Family Promise of Waukesha County we also believe that in addition to advocating for systemic change we need to advocate for families who are experiencing homelessness by breaking down stereotypes about those who are homeless. The strength of being a grassroots, community based organization is that it brings people of varying life experiences and economic levels together. While the focus is on helping families meet their basic needs, this also becomes a unique opportunity to share their story. To care for those we serve, it is imperative to let others know that those who experience homelessness are deserving of care and support.
Unfortunately too many people embrace stereotypes and make inaccurate judgements that all individuals experiencing homelessness are lazy or weak. As volunteers, supporters, and friends of Family Promise we know that there is a different story to tell. It is a story of trauma, strength, perseverance, compassion, hospitality and unity.
It is a story that we are obligated to tell to build support for those in need. This is an important way to advocate for those experiencing homelessness.
Therefore to prepare us for advocacy week this edition of the Friday Five is dedicated to strategies that we can use to become effective and persuasive advocates for families experiencing homelessness.
2. IT BEGINS WITH RELATIONSHIPS
The strength of Family Promise is that it brings people together. A recent story in the New York Times about revealed how important relationships between people of a varying economic levels play in reducing poverty.
At Family Promise those relationships had always been built through the rotational model. While we continue to seek ways to foster those relationships you can still learn about the realities of the families we serve through prevention and shelter. Advocacy begins by learning about the lives of those we serve.
Homelessness is not just a loss of housing, it is a loss of relationships.
Meet Monica and Michelle
Click on photo to read her story.
Click on photo to read her story.
What the families we serve have taught us:
POLL OF THE WEEK
3. KNOW THE ISSUE
Understanding the causes of homelessness is vitally important. The reasons that a family becomes homeless are complicated. It is inaccurate to say that a family experiences homelessness only because of their own decisions. The main issues that contribute to homelessness are :
POVERTY (and jobs that do not pay a livable wage.)
In Wisconsin, in order to afford a two bedroom apartment one needs an hourly wage of $18.56. A recent shelter guest recently received a $.50 raise. It boosts her wage to $15/hour. At this rate, she will struggle to afford a home for her and her two girls.
LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS
For every 100 households who need affordable housing there are 34 units available. This is the largest obstacle we face when helping families find housing.
In Waukesha County it is almost impossible to survive without a car. Often low-income families have vehicles that are unreliable and become a black hole of repairs. Yet how do you get to work if you live in Waukesha and your job is in Oconomowoc?
In the United States there is a disproportionate amount of black families who experience homelessness. The effects of redlining and municipal codes that guaranteed segregation are still being felt.
Check out this overview of family homelessness.
Here are some books and resources to dive deeper into the issue of homelessness.
Race for Profit: How the Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
The Color of the Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Tightrope: American’s Reaching for Hope
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America
Invisible Nation: Homeless Families in America
Redress provides resources about the impact that race has had on poverty and homelessness.
4. IMMERSE YOURSELF
The best way to advocate is to get involved and speak from personal experience. Family Promise of Waukesha County needs your assistance! Here are a few ways you can immerse yourself into the issue of homelessness.
We are seeking a few volunteers to each make a main dish and a few others to make a side dish the week of August 21. Food will be dropped off at Family Promise Day Center (139 E North Street Waukesha) on Friday, August 19 from 7am-4pm. A follow email will be sent with details.
We are collecting school and household supplies on Saturday, August 20 from 9 am- noon. Over 60 children from the prevention and shelter programs need our help. Check out our event page to learn more and see the needs list.
Once the supplies are dropped off we are looking for volunteers to help sort and distribute them. Both volunteer options will happen at the Day Center 139 E North Street Waukesha.
We rely on volunteers to support families in need. We hope you can get involved.
5. SPEAK UP!
Advocacy is advocacy only if it is shared. This week we invite you to share what you know about Family Promise and families experiencing homelessness with your network. During this week we invite you to consider advocating for families experiencing homelessness by:
Start or participate in a book club focused on the issue of homelessness.
Become familiar with the programs offered by Family Promise of Waukesha County.
Gather a group to play the game Spent an online poverty simulation activity
Need assistance? Any of our dedicated staff can assist you. Visit our staff page for biographies and contact information.