Housing First’s Day One Family Program Empowers Families with Housing and Workforce Training Support

Last Updated: July 3, 2024By

In 1992, Mobile business and community leaders had a vision to reduce the rapidly growing number of homeless people in the community by finding a creative way to house them. Housing First, Inc. was born from this vision and collaboration.

In 2024, Housing First, Inc. stands at the forefront of providing re-housing solutions to struggling families and individuals.

A significant initiative is underway to support families facing the challenging intersection of workforce training and housing instability. Housing First has launched the Day One Families Program to address a critical gap in community support.

This program, funded through a one-time grant from the Jeff Bezos Foundation is intended to assist families with school-aged children with housing. Referrals from this program are received directly from social workers within the Mobile County Public School System.


The Need for Day One Families Program

The Day One Families Program targets families with children under 18 who are engaged in workforce development or training programs but struggle to maintain stable housing. This scenario is not uncommon; many families find themselves torn between pursuing career-enhancing training and meeting immediate financial needs like housing and utilities. Often, this predicament forces them to make the difficult choice between gainful employment and survival jobs.

Consider a scenario where a parent is enrolled in an intensive training program, such as welding, with the promise of a substantial income boost upon completion.

However, they face imminent financial strain, risking eviction or utility shut offs. Without intervention, the potential benefits of their training—like securing a $70,000 to $80,000 per year job—are lost, perpetuating the cycle of instability.

The goal of this program is to provide rental and utility assistance to the family while the adults take education and employment training. At the end of the program, the family should be financially independent and no longer need financial assistance.

CEO of Housing First, Derek Boulware said, “What I hope the business owners, decision makers and the HR directors can see is that this is a program to support their training programs. They need to train these folks and they need employees. Mobile is expecting thousands of new jobs, and we need the people to fill them. Housing First can’t answer everything but we can help one little, tiny area of it. We can help put some new people into the workforce with the business community’s support. We are not allowing this resource to go to waste. What I hope the business community can see is that we don’t have to go outside of our state for employees, we’ve got them right here. Our clients might need a little more help than some others, but I think it’s worth it in the long run.”

The project also provides supportive services centered on case management with an emphasis on obtaining and maintaining stable permanent housing by increasing self-sufficiency and eliminating or minimizing previous barriers to stable housing.

Supportive services provided through case management include:

  • Assistance in locating and obtaining suitable housing.
  • Accessing community resources.
  • Increased skill levels and/or income; greater self-determination; and eventual housing independence.


Addressing Misconceptions

Despite these strides, misconceptions about homelessness persist. Housing First challenges the stereotype that all homeless individuals are visible on the streets. Many are hidden, living in cars or shelters, striving to maintain their dignity while seeking stability. By sharing these stories and statistics, Housing First aims to foster empathy, compassion, and understanding within the community, encouraging broader support for their initiatives.


Economic Benefits of Support

Supporting Housing First isn’t just about giving back; it’s also economically smart for the community. The costs associated with homelessness—such as increased strain on emergency services, healthcare systems and judicial resources—are significantly higher compared to preventive measures that support individuals in maintaining stable housing. Financially stable individuals contribute positively to the local economy, reinforcing the community’s overall prosperity. 


How Businesses Can Help

For local businesses, supporting Housing First is not just a philanthropic endeavor—it’s an investment in a more prosperous community. Businesses can contribute by:

  • Financial Support: Direct contributions help sustain Housing First’s vital programs and expand their reach to more families in need.
  • Partnerships: Collaborating on workforce development programs ensures a pipeline of skilled workers while supporting families through Housing First’s services.
  • Advocacy and Awareness: Spreading the word about Housing First’s impact can inspire others to get involved, amplifying community support and engagement.



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