Book of Dreams

A Book of Dreams: Family Promise keeps the hope of finding a home alive

Family Promise helps homeless families get back on their feet

Executive director Tamra Losinski talks about Family Promise of Greater Modesto, a nonprofit organization that works with local churches and business partners to house homeless families.
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Executive director Tamra Losinski talks about Family Promise of Greater Modesto, a nonprofit organization that works with local churches and business partners to house homeless families.

Marcos and Daisy are working to get back on their feet after losing their home several months ago.

The couple, both 22, rented a room from a family member for a while, then stayed in a motel with their four small children, Regina, Marcos, Luna and Pablo.

But neither of those options was sustainable, so they found themselves going through Family Promise of Greater Modesto. The nonprofit organization works with local churches – though business partners are welcome, too – to house homeless families while working with them to get permanent housing.

Family Promise serves up to four families for a total of up to 14 people at a time, said Tamra Losinski, executive director of Family Promise. And they could serve a lot more, if they had the money and facilities for it. Family Promise doesn’t keep a waiting list, because homeless situations can be fluid, “but we get between 60 and 100 calls a month,” Losinski said.

For Marcos and Daisy, like many homeless families, having no stable place to stay makes it all the harder to do the other things required to get them back on their feet. (The couple asked that their last names not be used.)

For example, Daisy had a job at an Amazon distribution center for a while, but working nights meant she couldn’t sleep when her family did.

(Click here to donate to A Book of Dreams)

“We don’t have anywhere to provide sleeping during the day,” Losinski said. Daisy had to resign from her job when she fell asleep while driving back from work one day.

But Marcos has found employment through the Save Mart company. A stocker, he said he enjoys his job.

Among the services Family Promise provides is a budgeting workshop.

Through that help, Marcos and Daisy have managed to get a handle on their expenses. “We definitely are differentiating between our wants and our needs,” Daisy said.

To that end, the couple has started to put away money for when they can get into a home. They recently opened their first savings account.

Helping families manage their finances is one way to ensure that after the 60 days or so in the Family Promise program, they successfully navigate on their own, Losinski said.

In addition to sheltering homeless families, Family Promise also offers programs to help people from becoming homeless in the first place. One of the most used is rental assistance, where an individual or family gets help making the monthly payment.

“We had a family that needed as little as $210,” Losinski said. They had almost all the rent but couldn’t cover it.

“And being close on rent doesn’t count,” Losinski said. “That $210 was the difference between being homeless and staying housed.”

Helping people before they lose their homes is more cost-effective for Family Promise, as well. Losinski said her staff estimates rental assistance costs about 10 percent as much as what it costs to serve a homeless family.

And finding a home is difficult, particularly for a larger family like Marcos and Daisy’s with no established credit.

“They say we are too big for a two-bedroom,” said Daisy, as her children played at the Family Promise day center recently. They thought they had found a place recently, but it fell through at the last minute, Losinski said.

Still, the family is hopeful.

“We don’t give up,” Daisy said. “We just have faith in God and ourselves.”

Our Featured Agencies

Nov. 4: Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus

Nov. 11: Cambridge Academies (Host House, Patterson)

Nov. 18: Stanislaus Family Promise of Greater Modesto

Nov. 25: Children’s Crisis Center (manages Guardian House in Oakdale)

Dec. 2: Turlock Gospel Mission

Dec. 9: Salvation Army

Dec. 16: Modesto Gospel Mission

To donate online, go to www.modbee.com/donate2bod

About the Book of Dreams

To send in donations, cut out the printed form on Page 3A.

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A $50 donation would house an individual for a night

A $25 donation could help provide rental assistance for a family nearing eviction.

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