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Family Promise of Gallatin Valley helping families experiencing homelessness find stability

Demand for Family Promise's services increased significantly from 2019 to 2023, jumping from 24 to 303 families served each year.
Posted at 8:34 PM, Apr 30, 2024

BOZEMAN — Transitional housing units are one of the ways Gallatin Valley’s Family Promise helps families experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. And they say they’re more than just a band-aid for the families they serve.

Executive Director Christal Chvilicek says Family Promise offers "full circle" help. This means stabilizing families already homeless as well as preventing eviction in the first place. This often starts with childcare.

“Over five years ago we identified that childcare was an issue in Gallatin Valley—that it was actually causing people to lose their homes because it was either, ‘Do I pay rent, do I pay childcare, do I even work since childcare is so expensive,'" she says.

If preventative efforts aren’t enough, Family Promise offers an emergency shelter. And for those with barriers that prevent them from renting, such as bad credit, they offer transitional housing where families have the stability to save money.

Christel says, “Transitional housing is developed in a way that anything paid over $500 a month of rent goes back to them in the end. So, a lot of our families walk away with over $3,000 in savings accounts.”

Eighty percent of families leave the program and never experience homelessness again, but the demand for services has grown exponentially, from serving 24 families in 2019 to 303 families in 2023.

"Right now, there’s data that says there’s one kid in every kindergarten class that’s already experiencing homelessness. And so truly when you step back it could be your neighbor," says Christel.

And when nearly 40% of Americans are unable to cover a $400 emergency expense, she challenges us to have empathy for those who experience homelessness.

"So far since I’ve been here, I’ve served five of my classmates. I was born and raised in Bozeman and that’s a hard reality check when your classmate walks through the door." Christel says.

"You know, we live in an expensive community, let’s wrap our arms around these families and see what we can do to raise them up."