Family Promise model draws support from churches, city and regional park district to enable families and children to move toward permanent quarters without being under a single roof.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PETER WONG - Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle presents a bouquet of flowers to Jolene Guptill, left, executive director of Family Promise of Beaverton. Also present is Lois O'Halloran, board chairwoman. Family Promise opened its day center for homeless families and children on Thursday, March 1.After 18 months in the making, Family Promise of Beaverton has opened a day center and transitional housing that will enable homeless families and children to move into permanent quarters.

The day center opened March 1 at Sunset Presbyterian Church, and about a dozen area churches will take part as host or support sites for four families at a time. Most will provide housing for limited periods.

The Family Promise effort also won support from the Beaverton City Council, which approved $50,000, and the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. Both agencies also will be host sites for families.

Similar efforts are underway in Tigard and Hillsboro.

Family Promise is a national network founded in 1988 and based in Summit, N.J. It builds on existing resources, particularly churches.

"Five families on average every day are looking for a place to live in the Beaverton School District," said Lois O'Halloran, board chairwoman of Family Promise of Beaverton. "As citizens, we cannot accept that they should live out in the cold."

Beaverton schools led Oregon districts in 2017 with 1,522 students who either were living in temporary shelters or in places, such as cars, not considered suitable for habitation.

In addition, Washington County's 2017 point-in-time count turned up 196 families without housing on a single night.

Beaverton does have a cold-weather shelter, which is open Thursdays and in severe weather, for five months of the year. It began last year.

Although Family Promise provides transitional housing for the families, they do not spend the night together under one roof, unlike a conventional shelter.

During the day, families go to work or to Sunset Presbyterian, where they can work with case managers to resolve problems that led to their losing their housing in the first place. Children attend school or day care.

"We want to shelter people," O'Halloran said. "But we want to help them get into permanent sustainable housing."

At night, the families go to places arranged by their host churches — their commitment is for one week at a time, four times per year — or by the city of Beaverton and the regional park district.

Washington County Commissioner Greg Malinowski, who attends one of the participating churches, said Family Promise is needed because no Beaverton shelter accepts children.

Beaverton council helps

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle took part in the opening ceremony.

The council approved $50,000 to supplement the fundraising effort by churches and community organizations.

"We provided a real shot in the arm financially, no strings attached, to get them going. We said to them go forth, get this done if you can, and let us know how we can help," Doyle said.

"It was so much fun to see the faith-based community and others step up and do this, because that us what makes this community a cool place to live."

One of those churches is First Baptist of Beaverton, whose lead pastor is Doug Boyd. He's already familiar with Family Promise, having taken part in a similar effort in 2012 when he was in Orange County, California.

"When I came here and found that Family Promise would start up in Beaverton, I jumped on and said we want to be a host church," he said.

Boyd said it appears contradictory, but an indicator of success by Family Promise is that participating churches rarely, if ever, see the same family in each 12-week cycle they play host.

"They would enter the program, and then they were out and back in a home or apartment. To me, that is encouraging because you see the results — you do not see the family again," he said. "Some people are bummed by that, but the exciting part is that we know they are back and now have their independence."

Other Family Promise efforts are underway in the Portland metro area. Family Promise of Washington County serves Hillsboro. Family Promise of Tualatin Valley serves Tigard-Tualatin, Sherwood and Lake Oswego. There is also a Family Promise effort in Vancouver, Wash. According to the network's national website, Family Promise also has efforts in Salem and Lincoln City.

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