In 2016, three clergy sat down together to voice frustration about the lack of affordable housing in Winchester. Over the next two years, they met with other community agencies to determine why it was that families in particular could be placed in a home and, within six months to a year, end up back in homelessness.
They determined, through the help of United Way’s ALICE (Asset- Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Families report, that it was harder for working parents to stay in a permanent home due to the long-term effects of homelessness on children. Although the children began to see some stability, health concerns caused them to need more medical care, which took parents out of work. Children also were prone to difficulties in school, causing parents to need to come to the school, sometimes on an emergency basis, more regularly than children who have not experienced homelessness.
All of this time away from work made it difficult for parents to keep their jobs and the stability that came with jobs. Add childcare expenses on the weekends and evenings, the inability to get to the resources available in the community during their non-working hours, and exhaustion from just trying to make ends meet and it was no wonder families had such a hard time staying out of homelessness.
So Winchester Together began to dream about what a support network would look like for working families to alleviate some of the stresses they face every day, while attempting to stay away from the one crisis that would push them back into homelessness.