When most people think of Orange County, they picture sunsets on beaches, enormous houses and lavish lifestyles. They do not picture homelessness or families crowded into tiny apartments with empty cupboards struggling to make ends meet on a single parent's income.
Many of our families are single mothers who were abandoned or divorced without alimony or child support. Finding a job, childcare and balancing the role of being both the financial as well as primary care provider is a huge task for anyone. The mortgage layoffs and sub prime crisis have impacted many in our community and we are seeing a dramatic increase in two-parent families in all our programs. Job loss, divorce or medical emergency are the top three reasons for becoming homeless in Orange County. Mental illness or substance abuse accounts for less than 8% of all homelessness in our area.
Our families have the will and perseverance to succeed and we provide the resources and opportunities required to become self-sufficient. Counselors and career coaches show parents the way by setting goals, teaching time, stress, and money management skills, job search and retention strategies, parenting techniques, and other valuable life skills, but the families must take the responsibility and initiative needed to walk through the door. Our programs emphasize accountability and action on the part of the clients, while simultaneously bringing compassion, dignity and hope to their lives. Families in the Transitional Housing Program are responsible for paying some level of rent for their transitional home, and they pay their own market rate utility bills in full. All clients are expected to achieve their objectives and timetables. The process of attaining self-sufficiency is not an easy one, but more than four out of five families graduate from the Transitional Housing Program feeling more accomplished and empowered to take control of their own futures and become productive members of the community.
Families Forward depends on community support in order to meet the needs of our families. 88.5% of all donations directly fund our programs and services. By donating to the Families Forward mission, our generous contributors invest not only in a family's future, but to the future of our community at large.