Featured in the February 2021 edition of Texas Monthly, Family Gateway, an Independent Sector member located in Dallas, Texas, operates the only emergency shelter in the area that serves all types of families – traditional and nontraditional. It’s also the only area emergency shelter with enough bed capacity to take very large families – very recently, a multigenerational family of 12.

The nonprofit is Dallas’ designated access point for the homeless response system for families, so when people call about a family in need, they talk to Family Gateway first.

According to Chief Development Officer Ruthie Umberger, an average length of stay for families that need emergency shelter is about 54 days, which rose to about 81 days during the pandemic. The process of rehousing families takes about one year, and families with children that have special needs may stay significantly longer.

“In 2016, we implemented what we call ‘assessment and diversion,’” Umberger explains. “Our first goal is not to place a family in an emergency shelter situation if we can avoid it.

“We see whether we can negotiate with a landlord about an eviction, or whether they’ve got family in Louisiana to pay their bus ticket to get them there, rather than bringing them into shelter."

Read the full article about helping homeless families by Debra Rainey at Independent Sector.