Friends Association administers services to help homeless individuals and families find shelter and long term, stable housing. The non-profit agency operates in Chester County Pennsylvania, and while the focus is on addressing housing challenges, the agency can also provide referrals and other one time financial support.
In an effort to help families or individuals that are facing the threat of homelessness, there is advice and maybe limited financial aid available. The goal is to assist residents of the county so they can find a permanent residence or ideally avoid eviction from their current home or apartment to begin with. Unfortunately with the challenging economy, some of these families face the threat of evictions due to a sudden, unforeseen expense or a drop in their income.
The Homeless Prevention Services and Emergency Family Shelter are available and ready to meet the needs of vulnerable, struggling individuals and families in the community. The requests from applicants vary widely. Needs that can be met by Friends Association include longer term issues such as seeking permanent housing or short term such as assistance with paying rent one time only.
The Emergency Family Shelter offers lodging as well as safety and security for struggling, poverty stricken families with children. Basic needs are met as well for daily living. This is combined with safe shelter and personalized case management services to help guests return to a life of independence and self-reliance. Goals for them include finding long-term employment, locating and moving into permanent housing and consistent attendance in school for their children.
By working with the Friends Association Shelter Coordinator, a unique action plan is created for each family where long and short term goals are identified and met. This will then in effect lead them back to a stable home life. Clients of the non-profit also receive referrals for government and private support services including public assistance, medical/dental care and mental health care. In addition, other resources available may include parenting classes, budgeting workshops and other forms of counseling.
If these families have children under the age of 5 years, they are assessed for any early intervention services and referred if a developmental delay is found. Preschool services are also available in Chester County based on individual assessment of the child.
While participating in the programs, clients work to find secure low income housing and sustainable employment. They attend job skill workshops, apply for necessary financial assistance and enlist their children in the appropriate school or summer camps.
The Homeless as well as Eviction Prevention Program has a main focus of finding families with children, including single moms, safe and permanent housing. This is managed by balancing emergency financial assistance for deposits or rent with intensive case management.
The Case Manager from Friends Association works with each client to assess and prepare a family service plan where goals are identified and action steps will be implemented to help them attain these objectives going forward.
Based on the results of an assessment, goals typically identified with the case manager include finding sustainable employment, paying down debts as well as paying bills in a timely manner, household budgeting, starting a savings plan and completing or furthering their education.
Support to residents living under the threat of homelessness or an impending eviction is one of the key components of the service. One of the hardest things to accomplish is finding long-term housing for these families as many have poor credit histories or tenant records. They also tend to have low-incomes, inconsistent employment or a criminal background.
However, local Chester County landlords work with agency's Homeless Prevention Program and offer safe and affordable housing to these families. The goal and hope is these families participating in the service will be living independently within a timeframe of 12 to 18 months.
The non-profit Friends Association and all of their resources are also available for individuals who are living under the threat of losing their current housing. This is usually done by providing immediate rental assistance, either in the form or a loan or maybe government grant, for them. In addition, they may require funding to keep them current on their rent or partial rent subsidies over a longer period of time.
For any type of housing challenge, Friends Association is based at 113 West Chestnut Street, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380. The main number is 610-431-3598.
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