Family Promise Fights Homelessness During COVID-19 Crisis

Family Promise of Berks County prevents homelessness by assisting people facing eviction. Communities across the country are bracing for an avalanche of evictions resulting from the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Family Promise, with support from United Way, is ready to assist tenants who became cash strapped because they lost their job and did not qualify for unemployment.

United Way recently awarded Family Promise a $20,000 COVID-19 grant to help families remain in stable housing. “We’re still in the beginning phase, as far as our impact with the dollars we received from the United Way,” said Elise Chesson, executive director of Family Promise.“We have helped a few households and one in particular stands out.”

Anna, a working woman in her 20s with a toddler, faced homelessness earlier this year. While completing a 90-day residency in Family Promise’s Hospitality Network Program, Anna lost her job due to the pandemic. With funds from the United Way, Anna was able to relocate to a new apartment. Blessings multiplied for Anna when she was also gifted a car from Charity Cars and she received furniture from the Rudden Family Foundation, another Response Fund recipient, to furnish her new apartment. Thanks to the generosity of the community, Anna and her son, Koda, are not homeless.

“100 percent of the $20,000, received from United Way, will go directly to paying security deposits and first months’ rent to rapidly rehouse people,” Chesson said. “Based on the statistics before COVID, Berks County was experiencing 4,000 evictions a year.” With the end of the state-wide freeze on evictions in sight, Chesson said the funds will be used for people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

“The financial and economic repercussions of this pandemic are going to be far-reaching and long-lasting.” Chesson said. “The type of need and request for assistance is going to be far more than we’ve seen before.”