Army's Hope Village Turns to Donations as Federal Funding Dries Up
Program benefits women as they learn to become more self-sufficient
With its federal funding drying up at the end of the month,
officials at HOPE Village are turning to donations to fund the program that
helps low- and moderate-income women get back on their feet.
The village is a group of seven homes that enable the women to live rent-free while they work and learn to be more self-sufficient. The Salvation Army opened the doors to its Homeless Outreach for Personal Empowerment program in 2009, and has since served 132 women.
Originally the program was funded with $900,000 of federal Housing and Urban Development grants, dispersed over the first three years. But those grants have dwindled. Today HOPE Village has a $400,000 annual operating budget and for the past four months has received $10,000 a month in federal grants.
Beginning in May, village leaders will no longer receive that money and will need to raise what's left of their annual budget for this year – approximately $360,000.
Residents originally were allowed to stay up to two years, but the government started to pressure the Salvation Army for quicker turnover, said Mary Mann, social services program manager for the organization’s Hampton Roads Area Command.
“They were making it more and more difficult to qualify for funding,” she said.
So HOPE Village lowered its stay time to one year. Now it turns units over every six months.
“Still, it was becoming too difficult to get funding, and it was taking away from the work we want to do with these women,” Mann said. “So we got our last funding last November and have been spreading that out in increments of $10,000 a month.
“This is the last month we’ll have that money.”
Mann said the village already is benefiting from “quite a few partnerships that help make this happen.”
Farm Fresh recently donated $21,465, and staff is working with Women United and the United Way.
“We now have a matching grant, where a private donor is going to match any donations we get,” Mann said. “And our development department is growing to build and maintain those kind of relationships that will keep us going.”
The private donor doesn’t want to be named or interviewed, she said.
The program teaches women skills they’ll need when and if they transfer to permanent housing. Volunteers mentor residents, who attend classes and must work to pay for their food.
“It’s been very successful so far,” Mann said. “We teach them how to run a home and we start at the very beginning. There’s budgeting, cooking, shopping, couponing … whatever they might need.”