A New Initiative to Help Families Find Housing and Stay Together

A Partnership Between Project Community Connections, Inc. and the Georgia Department of
Family and Children Services Aims to Support Families Facing Housing Insecurity

Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the U.S., accounting for 40-50 percent of the nation’s homeless. Homelessness is directly related to the availability of affordable housing. Low inventory and rising rents make it difficult for people to find and remain in stable homes.

Informed and driven by data indicating a major reason for child welfare involvement was housing instability and/or homelessness, PCCI and the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) have come together to try something new. Together, we aim to reduce the number of families involved in Georgia’s child welfare system by providing housing support.

Providing Rapid Re-housing and Wraparound Support
It can be difficult for families to navigate the many agencies, organizations and programs available to help find housing, access services and gain stability. Understanding the ecosystem of support in moments of crisis is particularly challenging. Limited transportation and childcare options, no access to a phone or the internet, language barriers, and an inability to take time away from work are just a few of the obstacles facing families. This partnership aims to address those challenges by providing immediate, situational and culturally relevant assistance to get into safe, affordable housing.

Ke’Asia Conley, a longtime social services professional and now program manager with PCCI, has been on location at the Fulton County DFCS office since September 2023. DFCS caseworkers identify families who would benefit from housing support to help avoid separation or to reunify, and then connect them with Ke’Asia in real time. She listens to their challenges and works to quickly secure housing that meets their needs.

“Our support doesn’t just stop once the family is placed,” says Ke’Asia. “We are available for as long as they need help stabilizing their lives.” PCCI offers access counseling and health care services and guides families to apply for state and federal programs. Other resources such as help to secure MARTA cards and connect families to partners such as First Step Staffing Helping Mamas, Atlanta Furniture Bank and many others are also available.

Investing in Growth
This work is funded by grants and public dollars all working together to avoid family separation and establish stability. To test the concept and refine the approach, the partners set out to rapidly rehouse 50 families in Fulton and Douglas counties in one year. They are on target to meet that goal – and it is clear that the structure is working.

Several of the families who have benefitted from the partnership are now settled in housing – attending school, working, and building their own futures. Keeping families together and out of the child welfare system benefits everyone and lowers demand for time and budget from DFCS.

For practitioners like PCCI, it is clear that breaking the cycle of homelessness will require investments in these kinds of nontraditional solutions. “This is rewarding – yet very emotional – work,” says Margaret Schuelke, co-executive director at PCCI. “More often than not, families in crisis just need guidance offered with kindness.”

“To serve more families and to expand this program into additional counties takes not only funds designated for housing and direct services, but also support to foster the careers of people like Ke’Asia – compassionate leaders who will identify new ideas, new partnerships and new ways to solve for the systemic problems that lead to homelessness,” continued Schuelke.

Support this important work: Donate to PCCI today.