INSIGHTSPARTNERS IN PHILANTHROPY
Charity Spotlight: Michael Pickett
Finding a Pathway Out of Homelessness
When you think of homelessness, what images appear in your mind? Maybe it’s of a mentally unstable older woman or a drug-addicted young man. The reality is, homelessness has many faces, including those of a nuclear family. There are nearly 3,000 families who are homeless on any given night in Multnomah County, Oregon. As stereotypes about homelessness continue to cause divisiveness in a state ranked first in the nation for homeless children, My Father’s House, a non-profit agency in Gresham, Oregon, has found a solution that keeps homeless families together and has achieved an 85% success rate in helping homeless families rebuild their lives.
“Many families are just one step away from slipping on an unlucky banana peel that can cause homelessness,” explained Mike Pickett, founder of Focused Financial Management Group and active volunteer for My Father’s House. “Most of us assume drug addiction is what causes families to become homeless. The reality is all it takes is one unfortunate and destabilizing event like the loss of a job, an increase in the rent, an unexpected medical illness, or a spouse leaving. Homelessness is caused by many, many different things which means there are many different pathways out.”
Mike, who experienced homelessness for a brief period as a child when his parents divorced, and his wife, Andrea, are passionate about doing all they can to help homeless families rebuild their lives. So much so that Andrea left her marketing consulting business two years ago to work full-time at My Father’s House as their intake manager.
“Homeless families face unique challenges,” explained Mike. “The first is that most homeless shelters do not accept two-parent families or children over 10 or 12 years of age so what happens is families are often split up, and the children are placed in foster care. The second challenge is that Portland has a housing crisis.”
My Father’s House provides a safe and transformative living experience for families to rebuild their lives built around “tough love.” The shelter houses up to 28 families in a state-of-the-art 27,000 square-foot facility which is funded solely through private donations. Acceptance into the shelter requires the entire family to be interviewed and agree to the shelter’s rules. Each family has assigned chores and are also required to be up and ready to go by 8:00 AM each morning for a room check.
Since there are many causes of homelessness, the shelter’s goal is for parents to discover their own pathway to success. Parents staying at the shelter must agree to attend a life-skills class each Tuesday evening. Skilled professionals are brought in to instruct on a variety of topics ranging from family budgeting, to parenting, to interview skills and more. Residents can also attend the Rent Well program which helps those who have never rented before or who have poor rental histories to become more attractive as tenants. Graduates of the Rent Well program receive insurance-like coverage that can reimburse the landlord if they leave their rental unit within the first year and have unpaid rent, damages, or legal fees beyond what the security deposit covers.
Recognizing that the housing crisis in the Portland area, presented even more challenges for families ready to leave the shelter, My Father’s House expanded their services with the building of the Stepping Stone Transformational Apartments in 2015. These apartments offer a longer-term housing solution for homeless families with increased tenant accountability.
“My Father’s House measures success not just by home ownership but also by accountability,” said Mike. “How do you know it’s working? Just take a look at the house. It’s 10 years old and looks brand new!”
To learn more about My Father’s House and learn how you can help visit www.familyshelter.org
To learn more about Mike Pickett and Focused Financial Management Group visit www.focusedfmg.com