Providing ‘Family Promise’ for Homeless Single Women

NESQUEHONING, Pa. -- Carbon County will finally have a homeless shelter for single women

Family Promise is a homeless shelter for anyone with children. They operate on a rotational model, where clients spend daytime hours at their day center in Lehighton and get bused around to eight different churches at night.

According to their executive director, eight isn't enough.

"Currently, there are a few weeks out of the year where we don't have a place for our families to sleep," said executive director Krista Brown-Ly.

To fill the voids, they're purchasing the former St. Francis parish in Nesquehoning. It will allow them to take in seven families at any given time. Currently, they can only serve four. With a cost of $80,000, they turned to the Carbon County commissioners to help them buy the church.

Carbon County Commissioner Bill O'Gurek says thy rerouted $50,000 in grant money to help Family Promise.

"They were going to apply for funds in 2020 under the block grant program which wouldn't become available until late next year or even early 2021," said Commissioner O'Gurek.

Earlier this year, the commissioners formed a homelessness task force to combat gaps in service. They believe by rerouting the grant money, Family Promise will help them meet those goals.

Carbon County currently has a shelter for single men and one for families but nothing for single women, but because St. Francis has two buildings on site, that service will be coming to Carbon County.

"I don't think without this property, we'd be able to. We need to be able to have a safe space for our families, and we also need to be able to have a safe space for our women who are experiencing homelessness. Their needs are different," Brown-Ly said.

Single women will be able to stay in the church building for up to 90 days. Family Promise will work with other agencies to find them long-term housing.

The former rectory building will serve as the new day center and overnight space for families.

"With the location in Nesquehoning, the families will be able to stay at that location on-site where our day center will be, and on other weeks, they can still be transported to the host congregations," Brown-Ly explained.

Officials hope families will be in the new facility by January, and services for single women will follow in February or March.

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