Frequently Asked Questions
Who are Family Gateway’s clients?
We accept homeless families of all kinds, and we keep families together. Many shelters have restrictions on what constitutes a family or have multiple requirements that families must overcome before they can be housed; here a grandmother/grandchild, single mother/child, a father with a child, a married couple with child – all are welcome. In addition, many shelters won’t allow males over a certain age to sleep in the same facility as females. This means a single mother might be faced with choosing between sleeping in her car with all of her children, or seeking shelter and having her 14-year old son sleep on a cot in a common room with hundreds of homeless men in a different shelter. We keep families together and work with them as they are.
How many families does Family Gateway serve?
We have 30 rooms for families at the Annette Strauss Family Gateway Center, and those rooms turn over on an ongoing basis as families gain self-sufficiency and move into a different level of housing support. We have arrangements with apartment complexes across Dallas to house approximately 100 additional families who need a different level of support, although this is especially problematic with our housing market and lack of affordable housing. In 2016, we cared for 399 families including 897 children. With the implementation of our new Assessment & Diversion program, we are expecting to triple that number in 2017.
Do the current facilities/apartment relationships fully support the community’s needs for family homelessness?
Not at all. On average, we receive 300-600 calls per month from those seeking support and/or shelter.
How long does a family stay in care?
It varies depending on the family’s situation and the factors that led them to homelessness. We evaluate each family according to their needs. In our external supportive housing programs (through Dallas Housing Authority vouchers or Permanent Supportive Housing), families receive services for a minimum of one year. Families who have severely disabled (mental/physical) members may receive services for much longer periods of time, funding permitting through HUD.
Why do families become homeless?
It’s a complicated question with many answers. Many of our families live in poverty or on the edge of poverty and then suffer a devastating event like the loss of a job, a serious illness, violence in the household, etc. Without a safety net or family to fall back on, they come to us. Some families suffer from generational homelessness or significant trauma for which they do not have the skills to navigate. Most of our families are young, uneducated single mothers who need a great deal of support to finish their education and receive job training while we care for (or find care for) their children. We are always proud when our families move on to self-sufficiency. We always retain a seat on our Board for a former client who found his/her way to a better life.
What partnerships is Family Gateway involved in to avoid duplication of efforts?
Our case managers provide comprehensive needs assessments and then connect families to community resources and programs, such as education completion, job training and the like. We partner with multiple agencies to provide services. Because early childhood education is so important to us, we work hard to make sure our children get into preschool programs and also provide on site care for those who are on waiting lists for Early Head Start and other similar programs.
How are the panhandlers we see on the streets or homeless living in encampments related to Family Gateway?
We don’t house what you may think of us the “typical homeless.” Those we see panhandling on the street, or living under a bridge are the most visible of our city’s homeless population. It is likely rare that you’ve seen a homeless mother and children in the street. Family Gateway serves those who are mostly invisible to us, as they sleep in their cars, “couch surf” from place to place, and live in and out of hotels. DISD recently identified 3,700 homeless students throughout the district. We have implemented new intake procedures and assessments to get a better estimate on the number of homeless families living in Dallas.
What can we do about the lack of affordable housing?
We are actively participating at the highest levels of our organization on the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness to be sure that children and families are not forgotten in the discussion around our city’s challenges. We are also partnering with Matthews Southwest as a non-profit partner to help facilitate the development of more affordable housing complexes in our area.
Is there a religious or faith-based component here?
We have strong ties to a number of religious institutions that support this important work. We are firm believers in respecting all religious backgrounds and are careful not to emphasize a particular set of beliefs over another. We encourage our families to develop their individual spiritual lives, according to their own faith backgrounds.
There is a lot about homelessness in the news. How does that affect Family Gateway?
Federal, state, and local government priorities (and therefore funding) have shifted to focus on the chronically homeless and Veterans. It is therefore more important than ever before that we engage our community to support homeless children and their families. Homeless children and their families continue to be our number one priority, even if more visible homeless populations are the primary focus of most other providers.