Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month (or close to it), the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In April we’re lifting up Community Involvement and Homes of Hope, Love INC of Greater Hershey’s transitional housing ministry. You can find the current month’s mission focus in the Joys & Concerns section of the weekly eNews.
If you were a single mom who lost her job and were evicted from your home in Hershey, where would you go? Where could a family of three, surviving on minimum wages, turn if their landlord sold the rental property in which they were living? Residents of Hershey and Hummelstown would have to go into the heart of Harrisburg or Lebanon city to access family shelter resources.
Requests for housing assistance to Love INC of Greater Hershey have continued to rise, highlighting the ongoing gap in housing services in the greater Hershey area. A few years ago, dialogue regarding housing needs between Love INC, its partner churches, and the Hershey Ministerium became more frequent. There was a consensus that a housing option was needed to narrow this resource gap. A sister affiliate, Love INC of Lancaster County, has been transforming lives for over a decade through their transitional housing program, Homes of Hope. As a transformational ministry (as opposed to a rescue resource), Love INC proposed a similar Homes of Hope transitional housing program for our region.
Aside from funding, acquiring a property would be the greatest hurdle for establishing a housing program. Love INC was aware of a property on East Derry Road for sale at the time but did not have the funding to purchase any real estate. Soon after that home sold in 2017, a generous donor stopped by the Love INC office, held out a set of keys to the single-family dwelling, and said, “here are the keys to your first transitional home.” And so began Love INC of Greater Hershey’s Homes of Hope transitional housing program. In December 2020, the Love INC board approved the addition of a second Home of Hope, which just had its grand opening.
Homes of Hope is more than just shelter. The Homes of Hope program is a holistic, structured approach designed to address physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs and guide families toward self-sufficiency during their 18-24 month tenure. Participants are part of a team that provides encouragement, emotional support, and accountability that helps the family identify needs, establish goals, and develop a plan to reach them.
Since 2018, the program has had three participant families and is now interviewing for the opening in the second single-family home. Through the encouragement of their teams, these families have worked hard, opened savings accounts for the first time, and saved thousands of dollars towards housing, transportation, and other needs. Through God’s work in their lives and assisted by faithful volunteers and generous donors, we’ve witnessed renewed hope and restored self-confidence vital to the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency.