Emergency Family Shelters
Homelessness and poverty is a complex problem that impacts thousands of people every year. Compounding the challenge is the shortage of safe, affordable housing. Volunteers of America provides emergency housing to entire families. We we were the first family shelter in Rochester and are now one of only two shelters in Rochester to house entire families. And, we take families of any composition, whether it is couples with children, single moms or single dads with children, same sex couples with children or families with extended members, all are welcome at the Volunteers of America Guest House. Being homeless is traumatic enough, so we work hard to keep families together by providing them with their own room and a safe, stable environment so they can pause to work on solutions to their housing crisis.
VOA’s Family Housing in Rochester
Volunteers of America provides immediate emergency shelter and support services for homeless families with children at The Guest House. This 13-unit emergency family shelter is one of only two shelters in Rochester that allows families in crisis to stay together. The goal is to provide immediate shelter and help families find appropriate, permanent affordable housing. VOA provide the basic daily living needs such as food, clothing, and hygiene supplies along with case management services to connect them with a wide range of community resources to help them get back on track. The Guest House serves more than 200 families annually in Rochester.
How the VOA Guest Houses helps families:
- Families remain together which minimizes the trauma of homelessness.
- VOA ensures the families’ basic needs are met by providing them with safe shelter, meals and toiletries.
- VOA provides support services to help families find and access permanent housing and address the challenges in their lives.
- Case managers connect families to other community resources to help them get back on their feet.
Homelessness can affect those who least expect it. One sudden change can turn your life upside down. Just ask Tom*. Tom is a lifelong Binghamton resident and single father of an 8-year-old daughter. He had a full-time job and was getting by paycheck to paycheck. Then suddenly things changed last spring. Tom took on full custody of his 5-year-old autistic nephew when his sister was battling drug addiction. The added costs of looking after a second child with a disability soon took a financial toll.
Once school let out for the summer, Tom didn’t have any child care options for the children so he began taking both of them with him to his job in food delivery. He was missing shifts and soon he couldn’t pay his rent and was facing eviction. He was considering living out of his car when he turned to Volunteers of America for help.
VOA provided Tom and the children with temporary housing in our emergency family shelter. A VOA case manager worked with him to find an affordable home while also arranging subsidized day care for the two children so Tom didn’t have to take them to work. VOA also referred Tom’s sister to a treatment center so she could focus on her recovery.
After three weeks in VOA's shelter, Tom and the two children moved into an affordable apartment in the city. Through VOA’s rapid rehousing program, VOA provided the security deposit for the apartment and filled the cabinets with food so Tom and the kids would have a good start in their new place. VOA's shelter is the only one in the area that could accommodate Tom as a single father with children because our shelter has private units for the families we serve. Now, five months later, Tom has maintained his employment and an apartment where he and the children are living together in a safe, stable environment.
“I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Volunteers of America," says Tom. "I didn’t know what to do. The staff at VOA were so kind and helpful. They helped me find a great apartment and a safe place for the kids to go so I could go to work.”
Tom is one of the lucky ones. He was able to stay with his kids while he worked through the challenges that led to his homelessness. Volunteers of America operates the only homeless shelter in Broome County that provides emergency housing and support services for entire families, keeping them together during their housing crisis. This ensures that single fathers can stay with their children.
*Name has been changed for privacy.