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Family Promise making progress

New agency has been helping the homeless get back on their feet since June.

September 24, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
  • Volunteers Jon Ericson and his son Joshua help clean up tables after families left the Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church Family Promise Service Center in Burbank. The center can house up to four families overnight.
Volunteers Jon Ericson and his son Joshua help clean up… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

After two years of grass-roots fundraising, a new nonprofit agency is now helping families that have fallen into homelessness get back on their feet by using a network of churches and connecting with myriad job-finding services.

Since the official opening in June, 90 families have been referred to Family Promise of East San Fernando Valley. Two families have already graduated from the program and three are currently receiving help, officials said.

"Family Promise is a niche agency for situationally based homeless families," said Jacqueline White, the network's director. "It's for your next-door neighbor who has always paid their rent on time and through some situation, medical, employment or a natural disaster has found themselves without a home."

Part of a larger national organization with more than 150 network offices, Family Promise has several requirements for those who are referred for services, including no active alcohol or drug addictions, no felony convictions or history of domestic violence and no untreated mental illness.

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Both single and dual parent families, regardless of sex, are eligible for the 90-day program.

Barbara Howell, executive director of Burbank Temporary Aid Center, said she has already referred two families to Family Promise, including one currently in the program.

"Family Promise has a good reputation nationwide," Howell said. "I think it's going to be a good resource for those that qualify."

Family Promise of East San Fernando Valley works with 23 church congregations to provide food and shelter for the families on a rotating basis.

The families — whose identities are kept secret — are welcome to spend the working hours at the nonprofit's day center where they may shower, do laundry and look for employment. Parents in the program are required to submit 10 to 12 employment leads a week if unemployed.

In the evening, the families travel to whichever congregation is hosting for the week to spend the evening. Each family is guaranteed a private area to sleep in, as well as three meals a day.

The day center, located in Burbank, also provides a mailing address and telephone number for families to conduct business or communicate with their families.

"The line is simply answered 'Hello,'" White said. "A lot of these families are embarrassed or ashamed they have to seek out help, and this helps out their ego."

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