Many congregations are hard at work planning for the holiday giving season. This short post offers a few great ideas for ways to help families who are moving from shelter or the streets into permanent housing. Does your congregation have any new ideas or ways you are helping families get into and stay in housing? If so, please share with us! 

Field Notes: A Rapid Re-Housing Wishlist  written by Anna Blasco

Published on October 2, 2013 for the National Alliance to End Homelessness Blog 

It may only be October, but planning for the holidays has already begun in earnest for some homeless service providers. When your organization asks for support over the holidays, do you ask for decorations, turkeys and food, or toys for children?

This year, when you plan what you will ask of your community, consider asking for help solving homelessness through housing.  Holidays are when our communities and individuals are the most receptive to the idea of giving. So it’s a great time for organizations to educate volunteers, donors, and the community about homelessness and the needs of the most vulnerable. It’s also a critical time to get the message on rapid re-housing right.

With that in mind, here are three things that your organization might want to consider asking for this holiday season.

  • Rental Assistance. Perhaps in lieu of toys or mittens this year, you can ask your donors for help paying someone’s rent. Some organizations have done this by reworking the adopt-a-family model. Instead of giving church groups, companies, schools, and other volunteers a wish list of toys, the organization asks them to raise money to pay a homeless family or individual’s rent for a period of time.
  • Landlord Recruitment. Many of the community members interested in helping out this holiday season may be landlords or may know a landlord. So your organization may want to include a call for landlords with your holiday messaging. Some organizations have gotten landlords to reduce application requirements or even rent by appealing to their desire to give back to the community.
  • Household Items. Many people will still want to give physical items directly to the individuals or families. One way to keep the message focused on housing is to request items or kits that include household items that are important when someone first moves into housing – such as cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, shower curtains, and sheets. (Community of Hope in DC calls these “Welcome Home Gift Baskets.”

If your organization has a housing focused holiday drive, event, or wish list, please share with us in the comments!