Lord of Life (LOL) Church has a new neighbor.
Family Promise of Anoka County is relocating its Coon Rapids operation to the 1950s rambler in front of the Ramsey church this month.
The house will serve as a day center for homeless families.
The children will attend their original school during the day while their parents work on finding jobs and permanent housing, said Carol Myrick, interim executive director.
During the evenings, the families are taken to one of 16 host churches for dinner and to sleep, she said.
The non-profit had been leasing a house from the Salvation Army in Coon Rapids since its inception in 2010, said Mark Tiede, Family Promise board co-president.
The Salvation Army’s partnership has been invaluable, but Family Promise began looking for a new home when the lease extension came into question and when it thought that the Salvation Army might want to use for the building for other purposes,
The new center is twice the size of the Ibis Street property, Tiede said,
But before the non-profit could move into the rambler, there was some work that needed to be done.
The wiring, plumbing and septic system needed be updated, Myrick said.
The Coon Rapids Warners’ Stellian store helped by donating a new water heater, water softener and a portable dishwasher, she said.
“I was so humbled and thankful” for the donation, Myrick said.
A lot of people in the community also stepped up and helped get the work done to ready the house, which LOL once used as a counseling center, said Natalie Steffen, LOL council president.
They include members of Grace Lutheran Church who have been cleaning the six-room house, disused since 2011, and moving in the appliances, Myrick said.
Family Promise is leasing the property for three years at a rent of $1 a year. The lease includes the possibility of a two one-year extensions.
“Hopefully, there will be no homelessness after that,” said Trisha Perez, Family Promise case worker.
Although the new space is bigger, Family Promise has no plans to expand now.
To expand beyond the four families it serves at a time, the group would need another 15-person van, Tiede said.
The program is limited to helping up to 14 people at a time, he said.
When the families return to the day center, which is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., they can do laundry and computer searches for jobs and housing, said Steffen.
By providing families with a place to spend the night, Family Promise is taking away the pressure and anxiety families experience when trying to figure out where they are going to sleep on a daily basis, Tiede said.
The families can concentrate on getting their lives together, he said.
“It is about meeting the basic needs of people so they can thrive,” Tiede said.
Having the center also helps the children stay in their original school and keep up their attendance.
Missing a consecutive week of school is really like missing three weeks, Perez said.
Family Promise works with the school districts’ homeless liaisons and makes sure the kids get back into their classrooms, she said.
Kids are the true victims of homelessness and Family Promise is a program that may help break the cycle of homelessness, Steffen said.
Without a stable home, kids don’t get a chance, she said.
Families with children age 17 and under can stay with Family Promise for 30 days, but have options that could extend the stay, depending on the circumstances, Perez said.
During the evenings, the families eat dinner and spend the night at one of 16 host churches.
The families stay at the same church for a week.
Family Promise also has four co-host churches that provide volunteers, Myrick said.
It takes a minimum of 60 volunteers a day to cook dinner, spend time with the families and other chores, she said.
The volunteers and churches are wonderful, Myrick said.
The church community recognized a need, stepped up and are doing things that would normally take taxpayer dollars, Perez said.
To expand the program, Family Promise would need more host churches and co-host churches as well as a new van, Tiede said.
Since 2010, Family Promise has served 65 families.
Approximately 18 families have found permanent housing since she started with the program in August 2011, Perez said.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org