Susan Ryder • Community Outreach Associate, Family Promise of Harrisburg Capital Region

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In February we’re lifting up homelessness and our mission partner, Family Promise of Harrisburg Capital Region.

Steve came to Family Promise HCR with his 12-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. They had spent the last year in a hotel, and the expense chewed through their savings. The next step was living in his car, which would place him in danger of losing custody of his children. 

That’s when they applied to Family Promise HCR. He entered the program in a very stressed state, with a constant knit in his brow. Unfortunately, stories like his are not unique.

Family Promise HCR has spent the last year:

  • Housing 14 families, including 23 children. 
  • Beginning the UP programs in July 2023:
    • Move UP assists with back rent and security deposits: 23 families benefited.
    • Wheels UP provides funds for car repairs and back car payments: seven families benefited. 
    • Heads UP assists with mental health visits for those who have experienced homelessness.
  • Working with 100 individuals looking for work, as a program management site for the United Way’s Road to Success program.

Our UP programs and Road to Success help divert families from homelessness. This is so important, because once a family has an eviction, it is much harder for them to find a landlord willing to rent to them.  

We don’t do this alone. We are a part of over a dozen coalitions or groups throughout the area representing hundreds of partner service organizations. This includes the Brethren Housing Association (BHA), where we hold a Road to Success “Job Club” and Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness, where Stacey Coldren, our Program Director sits on the board. We work with the Healthy Steps Diaper Bank to receive diapers for our guests. And we partner with organizations including Christian Churches United to share resources whenever possible, like the over abundance of hats and scarves we received and donated to the Overnight Women’s Shelter. 

Our families stay in our Day Center during the day, and in the evening stay at our network of ten host congregations. They transform three rooms into a cozy space to shelter our families in the evenings, and provide an evening meal and hospitality.

Steve graduated from the program. A local congregation that wanted to use one of its rental properties for mission work rented to him and his family. They gave him a reduced rate and took a chance on his rough credit report. This month it’s been one year since the move and the family is thriving! No more knit in his brow.