Photos: Homeless initiative celebrates 1,000th family moving into permanent housing
When Tia Jones got the call yesterday, she was elated. The Family and Senior Homeless Initiative reached its goal three and a half years early when it helped its 1,000th family transition into permanent housing on February 8. One month and sixteen more families later, it's time to celebrate. As a former member of the program, would she like to come down? "Oh, yes, yes, yes," Jones responded. "I'm one of them."
Big photos below.
This morning, in a small but serious meeting at the City and County Building downtown, Jones celebrated the largest landmark to date in the history of the program that assisted her and her four children. As a single mother to two daughters and two sons, ages seven to 22, the 41-year-old found the program in 2009 after ditching the stigma of asking for help. When her family moved from a shelter to a hotel, she called every number on a list of outreach programs until the Family and Senior Initiative answered.
Two weeks later, she and her three youngest moved into their new Lakewood apartment, which the organization guaranteed for them by paying -- not loaning -- the $1,032 she owed for the deposit and first month's rent. For seven months, she worked with one of 2,000 mentors who volunteer through the program, a collaboration between Denver's Road Home, the Denver Rescue Mission and the Clergy Council, among other partners. Of the city's 1,500 congregations, 350 have joined the faith-based push to help families and seniors find permanent homes.
"My children still don't understand why people would want to help," Jones says. Today, she drives them around in a 1998 Ford Escort wagon donated to her through the group's vehicle program. When her original apartment fell victim to a bedbug infestation and her family was forced to get rid of the majority of its furniture, they were given a new set. "They're so used to other people's lives and the drama out there and they don't understand when people are good. I just keep telling them to believe."
Kelsey Whipple Mayor Michael Hancock stands with families who have gone through the program.
Page down to continue reading about the Family and Senior Homeless Initiative's benchmark.