Providing Emergency Food, Shelter and Hope
to Homeless Children and Their Families in Columbia since 1979

Our Services

Emergency Shelter

emergency shelterWe provide emergency shelter for up to 120 days for 15 families at a time. Our residents live in a dorm-style setting where 2-4 family members live in one furnished room and share a hall-access bathroom with another family. Part of our 15 rooms includes two sets of adjoining rooms that enable us to accommodate larger families when needed.

We supply three meals a day as well as afternoon snacks to all of our residents. Meals are prepared and served in a communal kitchen/dining by our residents and sometimes community groups for prepare and/or donate meals. All residents come together for the evening meal which is served daily at 6pm.

Through the generosity of in-kind donations from individuals, groups and families in our community, we also provide all daily living supplies for our residents including bed linens, towels, personal hygiene items and cleaning and laundry products. To learn more about our in-kind donation needs, please visit our Wish List.

Our Program

The primary goal of our program is to help homeless families secure affordable housing and regain independence as a family. Families can live with us up to 120 days, with the possibility of extension based on room availability and adherence to shelter guidelines and program.

Admission requirements for all families include:

  • Proper identifying information for parents and children
  • Parents must be drug and alcohol-free and agree to a criminal background check
  • Parents must agree to participate in weekly Case Management meetings and Parent Education classes
  • Parents must agree to adhere to shelter rules and guidelines which include weekly chore assignments

All children living at Family Shelter must attend school or be enrolled in daycare if they are not school age. Parents are required to be off-campus Monday-Friday, from 9am-3pm to work, attend a job training program, seek housing and employment, attend social service appointments, or handle whatever other business is needed to prepare them for independent living.

Support Services

Case Management

All parents are required to attend Weekly Case Management meetings to help keep them on track and ensure incremental progress in finding housing and employment. When residents enter the shelter, our first requirement of the parents is that they submit housing applications to all of the affordable housing communities in our area. As is the case nationwide, there is vast shortage of affordable housing in Columbia and most locations have long wait lists. To help our residents get on wait lists as quickly as possible, we provide a listing of the most known affordable housing communities along with specific application instructions.

Once residents complete their housing applications, the focus of weekly Case Management then moves to employment. Some of our residents do enter the shelter with employment, but many need referrals to job training programs and job search services.

In addition to supporting housing and employment search, Case Management is also the means through which we offer a variety of other resources referrals for our residents. This includes social service needs, medical care, clothing and financial assistance for security deposits

Individual & Family Counseling

Homeless parents and children experience an enormous amount of daily stress and uncertainty. Our Family Services Director is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is available to meet with parents or children or an entire family to offer emotional and psychological support during their stay at Family Shelter.

We subscribe to the practice of Trauma-Informed Care as endorsed by the National Center on Family Homelessness for our residents, and thus try to tailor all of our family support considering each individual family's needs and the traumas that have led them to homelessness.

Family Enrichment

family storytimeIn addition to family support services, we offer many enrichment activities to help parents and children learn and grow and become more prepared to thrive when they leave our shelter. Most of our enrichment activities are facilitated by community volunteers. If you would like to get involved, please view our Volunteer Opportunities or email Nick Washington, Family & Youth Program Manager.

Ongoing enrichment programs include:

  • Parent Education Night
  • Open access to an onsite library
  • Weekly Storytime
  • Homework Help
  • Weekly Music class
  • Monthly Teen outing
  • Weekend arts & crafts
  • Birthday & holiday celebrations
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