The mission of Housing Families First is to provide families
experiencing homelessness the tools to achieve housing stability. The goal is
not only to assist families in finding permanent housing, but also to ensure
that each family has access to the supportive services necessary to achieve
long-term housing stability.Housing Families First has two signature programs: Building Neighbors, a rapid re-housing program serving over 75 families annually, and Hilliard House, an emergency shelter that provides crisis housing for up to 30 children and adults at a time. The shelter serves as a safe, supportive and often essential stopover for families while they are matched with permanent housing. Housing Families First is one of the few organizations that provide both shelter and rapid re-housing services in the Richmond region.
Housing Families First benefits families
and the community by: 1) providing short-term shelter to keep families off the
street, 2) connecting families with permanent housing to reduce the number of
households experiencing homelessness in Greater Richmond and 3) providing access
to the resources needed for families to remain stably housed, so that they do
not return to homelessness.Originally a long-term shelter for women with children, Housing Families First now embraces a “housing first” approach, which is considered a national best practice in efficiently and effectively addressing family homelessness. We focus on getting families (of all compositions) into permanent housing as quickly as possible, then work with them to access the resources they need to keep it. The cost of rapidly re-housing families is approximately 60 percent less per family than it was when we relied on long-term shelter, yet just as effective at reducing family homelessness.Ensuring families are stably housed not only has long-term benefits for the health and well-being of the families but also the entire community. Community benefits include improved relationships among landlords, residents and neighbors; reduced cost of evictions; decreased use of expensive community crisis services; and lower costs associated with job turnover and foster home placement.During 2015-2016, 86 families entered our Hilliard House shelter and/or Building Neighbors rapid re-housing program. Comprehensive family assessments revealed that over half of these households had multiple barriers to securing and maintaining housing. Common barriers include previous evictions, little or no income, an unstable work history, bad credit, a prior legal conviction, mental health concerns or a history of substance abuse. Despite these barriers, 90% families that participated in a Housing Families First program moved into permanent housing, and 85% had not returned to homelessness one year after exiting our program.
While Housing Families First has one-quarter of all the family shelter beds in the region and is in the top 3 providers of rapid re-housing in Greater Richmond, we are a relatively small agency that relies heavily on the generosity of the community. Our top five needs are:
In 2001, Housing Families First, then known as Hilliard House, established a 30-bed facility in the East End of Henrico County for women with children experiencing homelessness. For eleven years, Hilliard House provided transitional housing, with families benefiting from an array of supportive services that equipped them to rebuild their lives. The program consistently exceeded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) goals. Each year, 80 percent or more of the families were placed in permanent housing; the national standard established by HUD was 63.5 percent.Building on emerging research and best practices in reducing homelessness, Hilliard House adopted a “housing first” approach in late 2011 and launched a new program called Building Neighbors in January 2012. This program, based on a national rapid re-housing model, is complementary to the shelter program and places families in private, permanent rental housing as quickly as possible. Once families move into rental housing, Family Housing Case Managers work with them to establish housing stabilization goals and strategies. They also link families to mainstream benefits and community resources needed to bolster long-term stability. Minimal financial assistance with move-in costs (application fees, security and utility deposits, arrearages) and limited short-term rental subsidies (three to six months, on average) are provided on an as-needed basis to get families quickly into rental housing with a lease in their own name.Before the Building Neighbors program was launched, our shelter stays were measured in months and years, with the typical stay for a family at Hilliard House exceeding 12 months. Under the new model, shelter stays are measured in days or weeks, and in some cases, they can be eliminated altogether. Families with multiple barriers to obtaining housing especially benefit from a short stay in the shelter, where more intensive support services are offered. These barriers include a history of domestic violence, mental health concerns, substance abuse, little or no current income, or a judgment for rent owed to a previous landlord. For families facing these issues, the shelter can be a time to quickly stabilize before entering permanent housing.In 2011-2012, when Building Neighbors began, Hilliard House provided transitional shelter for 19 families. Just two years later in 2013-2014, the agency housed 68 families in permanent house – almost tripling the number of families served while decreasing the cost per household by over 60 percent. More importantly, Hilliard House maintained its high rate of success in helping families remain stable in the long run. Eighty-three percent of families were still in their home when we checked in six months after move-in. For its effective rapid re-housing work, Hilliard House was honored as the 2014 Agency of the Year by the Virginia Association of Housing Counselors.In November 2014, Hilliard House officially changed its name to Housing Families First to better reflect its updated approach, expansion of services, and growth. Within the organization are two programs. One is Building Neighbors. The other is Hilliard House, the onsite shelter that was the original core program to house women and their children. The shelter continues to provide a safe and supportive stopover for families (both single- and two-parent) on their way to a permanent home, however the length stay is significantly shorter than in the past.
Beth’s passion is bringing her leadership and management skills to nonprofit organizations helping low-income and underserved populations achieve a higher quality of life. Her leadership focuses on building strong, sustainable programs that are client-centered and nurturing strategic partnerships that improve outcomes for clients and the community.
Beth has 19 years of experience as an executive director of nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Housing Families First, she served as executive director of the Virginia Dental Association Foundation from April 2013 through November 2014, raising funds for free dental outreach clinics and programs. From July 2001 through March 2013, she served as executive director of Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM), a faith-based, Georgia nonprofit that partners with congregations, government, and other community institutions to help families facing homelessness settle into safe, stable homes and build healthy lives. Beth worked at the Fragile Kids Foundation in Atlanta before joining DCM, serving as executive director for her last three and a half years there. She also served on several nonprofit boards in the Atlanta area, including CaringWorks, Habitat for Humanity-DeKalb, and Pathways Community Network, Inc.
A native of Virginia, Beth holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. She earned a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management through the executive program at Harvard’s Social Enterprise Initiative in 2008.
Hilliard House is a short-term emergency shelter for up to 30 children and adults who are on their way to a permanent home but need a safe and supportive stopover. Through this well-established program, families who face hefty housing barriers gain more control over their lives, quickly move toward permanent housing, and take initial steps toward self-sufficiency.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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