Homestretch Mission Statement
The mission of Homestretch is to empower homeless families with children under the age of 18 in Virginia to attain permanent housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge and hope they need to become productive participants in the community.
How our program works: One Example
Maria finally fled with her daughter after suffering years of physical abuse from her husband. They found themselves in the Fairfax County homeless shelter system where they were desperate, frightened, and alone. And then they were referred to Homestretch. At Homestretch the family was provided with temporary housing and our skilled team helped Maria get a job, learn English, and study accounting. In the two years she was with Homestretch, Maria had the time she needed to address all the barriers she faced and make extraordinary progress. She graduated from Homestretch a couple of years ago and today Maria owns her own home and is a loan officer writing more than a $1 million a month in mortgages.
The Need for Homestretch’s Services
Family homelessness is almost always a consequence of three things. First, families become homeless after suffering a crisis such as the loss of a job, domestic violence, or an accident. Second, this crisis triggers an economic spiral where they find themselves unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and other essentials. And third, the family has a lack of social support networks they can rely on. In other words, they have no family or friends they can move in with. For a family with young children to end up homeless can be devastating.
Homestretch’s many individual success stories and overall statistics demonstrate the impact of our work. Some critical numbers that help tell the story of success include:
- Employment – Only about 50% of the adults in families entering Homestretch are employed either full- or part-time when they arrive. They are generally required to obtain a job and at any given time, on average, 92% of Homestretch adult clients are employed.
- Savings – On average, a family enters Homestretch $4,814 in debt. When they graduate from the program, usually after two years, they will have extinguished this debt and accumulated $5,989 in savings – a trajectory of over $10,000 using a mere 10% of their income.
- Income – The average monthly income for a family entering Homestretch is $950. When they graduate, family income is on average $2,354. That is about a 150% increase in income in just two years.
Homestretch Client Profile
While families with the least difficult challenges are being rapidly rehoused out of the shelter system, the most challenging cases are referred to Homestretch. Homestretch is commonly sent families with no work history, few marketable skills, chronic health issues, and significant emotional trauma. Some may not speak English. In addition:
- 90% of the adults in Homestretch families are single mothers.
- The average age of someone in the program is only 9 years old.
- 65% of Homestretch families are homeless due to domestic violence or human trafficking; 75% have been exposed to serious violence.
- 10% of Homestretch families are headed by military veterans.
- 41% of Homestretch clients have documented disabilities.
- 50% of Homestretch adults have no work history.
- 75% have damaged credit and high debt loads.
Overview of the Homestretch Program
Homestretch is a Transformational Housing program. Housing is a vital component of the Homestretch program, but we see housing as the critical foundation upon which all the other work that leads to transformational change for homeless families takes place.
Homestretch operates on the belief that high expectations produce outstanding achievements. For this reason, compliance with some of our services is mandatory. All our clients are expected to make strides toward self-sufficiency. Families coming into Homestretch understand that they must change certain things in their lives in order to achieve lasting safety and independence. Each adult, if physically able, is expected to work 40 hours a week or do a combination of 40 hours of work and schooling designed to significantly increase their earning power. Ten percent of the family income is placed into a managed savings account that Homestretch uses to pay down their debt and later sets aside to establish a nest egg for when they move into their own home. Another 30 percent of their income is required for rent.
The Homestretch program holds both our clients and our staff accountable for excellent results leading to client debt reduction and income growth. As debts are reduced and income grows, the family moves toward self-sufficiency. To insure progress, our talented staff provides each family with the individualized resources and supports they need to make transformative changes. A rich tapestry of services is provided:
- Employment counseling
- On-site psychotherapy
- Legal services
- ESOL classes
- Credit Counseling
- On-site childcare care
- Medical, dental and eye care
- Scholarships to pursue professional development
- GED training and assistance
- Computer literacy training
- Weekly Life Skills Program
- Assistance to access scholarships and grants for academic training
- Referrals to job training programs
- Car Seat Training and car seats
- After-school Teen Program, Teenstretch
- After-school tutoring
- Career Counseling
- Weekly Teen Life Skills program
- School advocacy
- Mentoring Program for teens ages 12-18
- Assistance with scholarships and loans to college
- Back-to-school supplies and backpacks
- Spring Break and summer field trips
- Assistance in attending summer camp or summer activities
- Weekend food bags
- Kidstretch Preschool Program, Children ages 3-5
- On-site childcare
- Back to school supplies and backpacks
- Medical services
- School advocacy
- Weekly Life Skills program
- Summer camp and assistance with summer activities
- Access to recreational lessons and sports
- Back to school Clothing Drive and Shoe Drive
- Birthday gifts and a birthday cake for all children
- Limited scholarships for children to private schools
- Weekend food bags
Key Features of Homestretch Services
- Measurable results – Homestretch is results-oriented so we focus on measuring outcomes. We want to know how effective our program is in propelling families out of poverty permanently so we can continually make improvements.
- Comprehensive services – All Homestretch families must participate in several mandatory services so they can address the barriers in their path to independence.
- Financial literacy and freedom from debt – Homestretch families are required to save 10% of their gross income, which is used by Homestretch to pay down their debts. Homestretch is their tax preparer and we use refunds to leverage substantial payoffs, further reducing their debt and raising their credit scores.
- Education – While in Homestretch, a parent has the opportunity to work part time while attending school. Homestretch provides scholarships, individual tutoring and help with books and other school fees. Because we emphasize education for all members of the family, often both the adults and children in a single family are being tutored.
- Scatter-Site Housing – All Homestretch housing is located in safe, pleasant communities with easy access to community services and resources. This not only protects client privacy but affords a unique measure of dignity to the families. The homes are furnished with donated items that the families can take with them when they leave to set up their home.
- Centralized services – Homestretch provides personalized and successful services that focus on empowering families to leave homelessness and poverty behind for good. Most services are provided at the Homestretch building in Falls Church.
- Professional staff – Homestretch is a professionally managed organization whose experienced, multi-disciplinary staff is specialized in credit and employment counseling, therapy, and comprehensive case management services designed to meet family needs while assisting them in achieving self-sufficiency.
- Client focused –Homestretch’s staff and volunteers are devoted to helping clients reach their fullest potential and exhibit care and compassion in carry out its mission.
- Connected to the community – Homestretch maintains close partnerships with a number of local businesses and religious and civic organizations. It attracts, motivates and manages more than 600 volunteers annually who are vital in carrying out its programs.
Lasting and Unparalleled Results
Since 2012, three independent studies by graduate students at local universities have shown that about 95% of Homestretch graduates remain safely housed and employed two to five years after exiting the program. In addition, ten percent of our graduates become first time homebuyers within three years of graduating from Homestretch.
Perhaps the most amazing outcome measure of Homestretch is the variety of careers undertaken by the graduates themselves. They include:
- Registered Nurses
- Licensed Practical Nurses
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Dental Hygienists/Assistants
- Real Estate Agent
- Grocery Store Manager
- Retail Store Manager
- Child Care Specialists
- Social Worker
- Bus Driver
- Economic Analyst
- Restaurant Owners
- Loan Officer
Homestretch is supported by the generosity of individuals, faith communities, businesses and the City of Falls Church. They believe in the power and purpose of the organization to move families permanently out of homelessness and poverty into their own homes and self-sufficiency. Those who invest in Homestretch not only enable us to provide vital goods and services to homeless families working toward self-sufficiency, but also experience a sense of pride knowing their financial investment in Homestretch will pay huge dividends in terms of radically altering the trajectory of people’s lives.