In many communities, they have become a nexus of crime and undesirable behavior. At the same time, they have also become the housing of last resort for working families and senior citizens who have nowhere else to go. They are the homeless shelters of the suburbs- they are extended stay motels. Our SVdP caseworkers will tell you that these motels are providing a service to the community that local municipal governments have failed to provide. Read more.

St. Vincent de Paul Georgia saw a way to offer real hope to these families. Last month in collaboration with the City of Norcross, United Way of Greater Atlanta, the Gwinnett Housing Corporation and other community organizations, we launched the pilot Motel to Home Program (M2H).

The goal of the program is to help families living in extended stay motels move into more stable, traditional housing.  The City of Norcross matched the United Way of Greater Atlanta in a total of $50,000 to finance the needs of 16-18 families and SVdP Georgia will provide program leadership and case management throughout the year-long pilot program.

Given the adverse effects of unstable housing on children’s education, we identified participants by reaching out to local school counselors who knew of students living in extended stay hotels. Throughout the program, the accepted participants will be provided with financial assistance, a caseworker to guide them through their housing search and first year of renting, as well as four (4) workshops designed to help them increase their knowledge regarding housing, budgeting, improving their credit score, increasing income and decreasing expenses.

“We are looking to create a model that we can potentially use in other communities throughout the state and build on the original Norcross Extended Stay Study that was completed a few months ago”, said Denise Fisher, program coordinator. “Data will be collected before, during, and at the completion of the pilot.”

We are pleased to report that fifteen (15) families attended the first workshop in January for a full day of learning about budgeting, led by Clearpoint, a Division of Money Management International, as well as understanding their obligations under a lease and the laws that are in place to provide busing to homeless children. While education was the focal point of the workshop, the biggest highlight of the day was when the participants gathered for a discussion about the stress that they were under personally due to a systematic failure in our society. Their heartbreaking responses are portrayed in the whiteboard pictured above.

While this program is by no means a “magic wand”, it will provide families with the critical knowledge, resources and tools they need to become self-sufficient.  

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