FloCrit Helps Teen Families Access Housing
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in the Denver area with added challenges of COVID-19, FloCrit has seen a growing number of our teen families struggle with chronic housing issues, often fighting to cover the increasing…
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in the Denver area with added challenges of COVID-19, FloCrit has seen a growing number of our teen families struggle with chronic housing issues, often fighting to cover the increasing costs of rent and basic utilities. Families have lost income as the economy contracts, placing them at high risk of eviction and homelessness. Living in this constant state of worry and fear is something Florence Crittenton Services works hard to alleviate through the Student and Family Support Program (SFSP).
One burden our teen families face is finding affordable housing. As FloCrit’s SFSP team seeks to find a solution, we have learned housing assistance in the Denver area is scarce. As we walked through our five year strategic planning, housing became a key priority. As a first step, SFSP Director Desta Taye-Channell recently engaged Roxane White, a renowned leader in our state’s public housing sector, and her team at Strategy With Rox (SWR), for help to get our young families access to safe, affordable housing. Desta says, “The issue is complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the work we have done with SWR has helped FloCrit get a seat at the table in community dialogues around housing, and has allowed us to advocate for our young families directly with the people who make housing decisions that affect them.”
Out of these conversations with groups such as the Denver Housing Authority, FloCrit was able to secure housing vouchers for several of our most vulnerable teen families. FloCrit also received a special grant from the Colorado COVID Relief Fund that allowed us to provide additional support to teen moms facing a housing crisis. This helped our moms and their families find stability and avoid imminent eviction. In just the past few months, the SFSP team has helped nine families to escape the threat of homelessness.
One of these families is Tania and her 2-year-old son, Camren. Tania grew up facing many challenges, including her mental health, which created interruptions in her education. When she finally reached FloCrit, Tania was three years behind in school. After Camren was born, Tania moved in with the father of her child and his parents. The relationship was rocky, and eventually they were all kicked out. For months, Tania’s family drifted from hotels, to family couches, to shelters, and back again. But Tania is a devoted mom, and she did everything she could to make sure Camren was safe no matter what. When she found FloCrit last winter, Tania knew the Early Childhood Education Center would be a safe place for her baby, and they began making the long journey to campus every day. The SFSP team, motivated by the energy and drive of this young mom to improve her future, jumped into action to help Tania. Her FloCrit Family Advocate immediately connected her with our free, on-site mental health counseling, which continues virtually during COVID-19. Tania’s counselor and Family Advocate helped her through the long application process to find stable housing. This included a period of time at the Salvation Army Lambeth Family Center, where she was connected with additional support services.
Finally, after many months of hard work, Tania and Camren were approved for a permanent housing voucher, providing her with a safe, stable and independent place to live. The SFSP team was even able to secure basic supplies, Tania’s first month’s deposit, and furnishings to get them started with the housing grant FloCrit received. For the first time in years, Tania will be able to focus on completing her high school education, while Camren thrives at FloCrit’s Early Childhood Education Center. “Tania’s experience shows us how homelessness is a complex problem that requires a holistic approach to solve,” explains Desta. “We have learned the best way we can address many of the factors contributing to homelessness is FloCrit’s partnership-oriented approach. Once our teen moms and children have a safe, stable place to live, they can make the most of everything our campus has to offer. We see them grow, thrive, and eventually graduate as empowered young families, ready to take on the next challenge.”