Advocates for Homeless Families
To better acquaint our members and the greater community with our grantees, we are highlighting some of the nonprofit organizations that have received WGC grant funds. This quarter, we reached out to Ken Allread, Executive Director of Advocates for Homeless Families. This organization is a long-time WGC grantee.
Please introduce yourself. What is your role at your organization and how long have you been with the organization.
I am Ken Allread, Executive Director of Advocates for Homeless Families for the past ten years.
What is the mission of the organization, and what personally moves you about that mission?
Advocates is very grateful to the Women’s Giving Circle for its years of support for our mission to achieve permanent solutions to homelessness by providing access to housing, education, and supportive services for local homeless individuals and families with children. My experience working with homeless individuals and families causes me to realize that homelessness can happen to anyone if there are dramatic changes to one’s circumstances. However, with the right supports, a period of homelessness can be brief and rare.
What are the most significant challenges that the organization is facing right now? What are the most significant challenges faced by the clients/populations that you serve?
Like most of Frederick’s non-profits, Advocates is managing to provide its services amid a changing work environment due to the pandemic. Previously, case managers made in-home visits and formed trusting bonds with clients over time. Currently, most of our staff work from home and conduct case management and other support services virtually. Our life skills workshops, which once gathered our clients and staff for important informative classes, are now suspended. We acknowledge the loss of learning for our participants and look forward to resuming workshops when it is safe to meet.
The greatest challenges to long-term sustainability faced by homeless women in our program continue to be lack of transportation, lack of affordable child-care, and stable employment with a living wage.
What is the nature of the Giving Circle grant that you received in 2021, and what impact will it have on women and their dependents in Frederick?
Advocates is grateful for the Women’s Giving Circle’s two 2021 grants which helped us provide transportation and child-care so that program participants can attend work and school, and emergency financial assistance to help our program participants with rental deposits, overdue rent, and expenses incurred when moving to more affordable housing to avoid homelessness.
Each year, Advocates supports about 100 homeless women and children through its program. In 2021, we provided emergency transitional housing to 18 homeless families, eight of which exited to permanent housing. We also moved 70 literally homeless households living in area shelters, motels, and places unsuitable for human habitation to fair market rentals under our rapid rehousing initiative. Rapid rehousing offers homeless families monthly rental assistance in decreasing amounts for periods of six months to one year to ensure their housing stability. We work closely with area landlords willing to rent to our client households and make timely rental payments and mediate any tenant difficulties. As a result of our program support, most of the families we place in permanent housing will never be homeless again.
Is there anything further that members of the Giving Circle can do to help, in terms of volunteering, in-kind donations, etc?
The Frederick community remains generous in its support not only of our programs but also in helping to keep the household goods pantry at our Abrecht Place office stocked with essential items that women in emergency transitional housing always need. We welcome in-kind donations of liquid laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, and kitchen trash bags.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Advocates’ Board members, staff, and program participants are tremendously grateful for the support of the Women’s Giving Circle. I look forward to the year when the annual awards’ tea resumes so that I may witness, once again, the collective power of so many women who improve the lives of Frederick County’s women and children. Thank you very much!