Why we need YOUR help!
Project Hope of Marion County is a non-profit organization, established in 2007 by a faith-based community group, to provide solutions for homelessness among women and their dependent children. Project Hope’s founders witnessed a growing trend of women and children forced to live out of their cars or in other unsheltered places for significant periods of time. Our mission is to shepherd homeless families to self-sufficiency and we do this through a proven and sustainable model. We are the only transitional and supportive housing program in Marion County to exclusively serve women and children.
Need for Homeless Solutions for Women and Children
There is a lack of capacity in Marion County to effectively serve the growing issue of homelessness, especially to effectively address the needs of women and children. With all current shelter programs running at full occupancy, there are still many homeless adults and children who live in unsheltered places. Sadly, the annual census of local homeless situation conducted by the Marion County Homeless Council found 179 truly un-sheltered homeless people, ranging in age from 12-82 were living outside in the elements in Marion County when the annual snapshot census was taken last January.
Homeless women face many dangerous situations and are at risk of violence and exploitation while living in unsheltered places. Children of homeless mothers often fall behind in school because of chronic absenteeism. They face other challenges like having clean clothes and dealing with food insecurity while trying to keep up with homework and studying for school. There are very few options for homeless women in Ocala. Some choose to live in their cars or temporarily in the spare rooms of friends. The local Salvation Army Shelter in our area only has two rooms that can accommodate homeless families. For those who have experienced domestic violence, Ocala’s Domestic Violence shelter provides short-term community bunk bed style shelter space during a domestic violence crisis.
We believe that to overcome homelessness, women and children need three things: a place to call home, supportive, caring staff members trained to deal with all forms of trauma in a professional and non-judgmental way and control over decisions that effect their lives. Project Hope believes that giving homeless women their own apartment for as long as they need it and focusing solely on the needs of mothers and children, supports a successful transition self-sufficiency and independence. Project Hope utilizes a trauma informed care approach. Recognizing the disempowerment caused by homelessness, we create a predictable environment that allows families to re-build a sense of efficacy and personal control over their lives. We are non-denominational and accept people of all backgrounds with no requirements for participation in faith-based services. Project Hope helps each family transition to stable housing through education, personal and professional development training. We also provide employability skills training, independent living skills, healthy cooking, financial planning, professional case management counseling, and a community atmosphere with mutual support and social contact.
Project Hope is the only program in Marion County to focus solely on working with homeless women and children. We estimate domestic violence is the cause of homelessness for at least 60 percent of the women we serve. Since its inception, Project Hope has transitioned more than 200 families into permanent housing and self-sufficiency. We are currently housing 17 mothers and 34 children. We have created a sustainable model though generating a portion of our operating expenses through our retail apartment rentals. We have a very experienced and active Board of Directors who have developed fundraising and individual giving programs to support a portion of our cost.
Project Hope receives calls everyday from women seeking shelter for themselves and their children. We have a long waiting list and are working hard to expand our capacity to help more families.
PH has evaluation systems in place to measure the effectiveness of its transitional housing model. Upon placement in our program, we collect information from families about their income levels, employment status, school attendance records of their children and special needs of their children. We inquire about experiences of domestic violence, abandonment, drug use, and health needs of the mothers. During the exit interview, we collect information about changes in employment status, changes in income, academic participation and school success of children and other important tracking measurements. The success of our program is evidence in our data collection and also in the stories and testimony of the families themselves. Families often come back years later to tell us how important their stay at Project Hope was for their journey to self-empowerment.
Project Hope has added five additional apartments to our transitional housing program this year, bringing our total reach to eighteen units this year. Five more units will be added in the Spring of 2021 to total 25 for program use.
All units of Project Hope’s transitional housing program are currently filled. We maintain a waiting list to fill units as they are vacated.
Of recent success, four families have achieved independence this year and two more are poised to do so before the end of 2021. One family was able to purchase a home, one mother was reunified with her children, others have found permanent housing and secured employment with health benefits.
Project Hope of Marion County
Responding to Christ’s call, shepherding homeless women & children to self sufficiency.