FATHERS FIRST HOUSING

BACKGROUND

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that? (Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happiness.)

The movie The Pursuit of Happiness captured the heart of millions across the world with a box office gross of over 300 million. The idea of a “black” father struggling with homelessness, heartbreak, and poverty still striving to remain present in the life of his son brought joy and tears to all those who watched. Single fathers are an underrepresented and rarely spoken about subsection of the homeless and child welfare services sector. 

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Statement of Problem

According to a ResearchGate presentation from February 2016, 15% of the 2.5 million homeless children in the United States hail from single-father households. This number does not consider fathers that lack stable housing with joint custody, non-custodial fathers, or split parent households. Homeless single fathers face a myriad of uniquely challenging obstacles. The most glaring is a lack of shelters and housing programs dedicated to young fathers and their children. Studies show unstable housing can result in disruption of finding employment, social networks, education, or make it harder to raise healthy children and receive social service benefits.


The shelter system largely caters to single-parent families wherein the mother is the main custodian. Research supports this fact that males are far more likely to experience homelessness than their female counterparts. Out of every 10,000 males, 22 are homeless. Gender bias and media stigmas related to expected social roles within the home are the two main components feeding the ever-widening gap between fathers and children as homelessness increases in African American communities. 


Experts have expressed a need for more inclusivity within the homeless shelter system for fathers. However, they lack the response of definitive action on both local and government levels. It’s notable to mention, that the role of fathers as central to the health and mental stability of their own children, is grossly downplayed. This gives way to an utter lack of resources and support for homeless single dads in the United States. The idea of young fathers being turned away from shelters or forced to separate from children due to regulations, it is clear there’s a dire need for remodeling the Homeless and Child Welfare System.

Proposal Statment

Provide safe, stable, housing and assistance to young fathers between the ages of 17 to 26 experiencing homelessness or fathers in the child welfare system.

Goals & Objectives

  1. Create safe, stable, child-friendly, and diverse housing options for up to 25 parenting fathers in the child welfare system and up to 50 fathers that experiencing housing instability.
     

  2. Maintain a space where participants have equity, youth feel considered, and both groups feel valued.
     

  3. Collaborate with stakeholders to develop a long-term independent housing plan with parenting fathers that is sustained through youth income, a connection to a PHA permanent housing resource, or other housing option that allows youth to successfully discharge from the program in 12 months
     

  4. Maintain a continuum of service linkages to provide young fathers with the following services: health (medical/dental), mental health/emotional support, family guided decision making, parenting, substance abuse treatment centers, law enforcement, schools, employment services, and legal services.
     

  5. Create an extended supportive network for youth including multidisciplinary professionals and community members who are willing and able to provide assistance and maintain a positive and healthy relationship with youth.

Target Population

This project will work with two sub-populations of parenting fathers:

Population 1: Fathers within the Department of Human Services
Population 2: Parenting fathers that are homeless and/or lack safe and stable housing between the ages of 17-26. 

Approach

    Sub Population I.

Parenting fathers In Child Welfare System

Growing Resilient Communities Inc., (GRC) a PA 501c3 organization, is the first state-licensed Supervised Independent Living (SIL) Program in the state of Pennsylvania to provide housing for parenting fathers and their children. GRC Supervised Independent Living and Housing Assistance Program for parenting fathers will implement a community-based transitional housing model.

 

Our SIL model consists of three scattered sites throughout PA with each site housing up to five young men and children per home. GRCs SIL program will receive all referrals through DHS Central Referral Unit. All locations are secure and staffed 24 hours a day by trained trauma-informed Engagement Specialists. Each resident will have their own unit that includes two bedrooms for themselves and their child. All units will include general amenities, utilities, Wi-Fi, housekeeping, maintenance, 24-hour surveillance, a shared kitchen, common area, and entertainment room. Our housing model is unique because it includes housing, peer support/mentoring, coaching/case management, restorative practices, and creative safe spaces.

Sub Population II.
   Parenting fathers that are homeless and or lack safe and stable housing
The intake process will begin with an interview and assessment at our central location conveniently located at our “Cornerstone” building at 2321 N Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19132. The “Cornerstone” is on the corner of Broad and York Street and accessible by bus stops and a train station directly in front of the building. The “Cornerstone” is in a multi-unit building that consist of two manager’s units, media/school/workshop lab, computer lab, on-site case management office vice coordination, educational/vocational services, job readiness and placement. Emergency resources are provided to fathers seeking housing including clothing and personal hygiene items. Services are delivered using a person-centered approach to support fathers and their children. We aim to provide fathers with a strong foundation and an extended network of compassionate adults they can tap into long after they leave.


GRC, Inc. uses a holistic and housing service model that collaborates with various Landlords/Property Management Companies and works across systems to serve young fathers. Our organization maintains a positive relationship with community partners to provide a myriad of services that includes life skills development, family engagement, religious/spiritual services, legal assistance, and health. In response to the shortage of equitable and fair housing in Philadelphia, GRC formed a Landlord Liaison Project (LLP) between landlords, property management companies, and various community organizations. The LLP is a memorandum of agreement between these entities and GRC to create and expand landlord/property management relationships, affordable housing options, and remove potential barriers such as work history, criminal history, credit history, and/or rental history.


Through rigorous labor, strategic partnership, and aggressive outreach, the LLP has secured a network of over 20 landlord/property management companies that own and operate over 1,000 single family homes, SRO settings and apartment houses throughout the city of Philadelphia. Landlord/property management companies accept referrals from our agency and provide minimum move-in requirements.