Alisha Jones, her son Trey and boyfriend Chad found themselves homeless after they were forced to move out of their Knoxville apartment.
She said it was infested with roaches and mold was growing under the sink. Jones told the landlord they were eventually moving out.
Shortly after that, Jones said her landlord told them to be out of the apartment by the day after Thanksgiving. They were left with no place to go with their young child.
“Ultimately, it was all about him,” said Jones. “He’s five. He can’t live on the streets.”
Jones turned to the non-profit, Family Promise. It’s the only program in Knoxville that provides shelter and support for homeless families.
If not for Family Promise, Jones said she and her family would have been forced to live in their car because they would have been separated at other shelters in town.
Family Promise Executive Director Mary LeMense said when families come for help, they find all the things they’ve lost to homelessness. A church on Middlebrook Pike has been converted into the agency’s day space.
“They have couches to rest on and TVs. We have bathrooms and closets and laundry facilities. The kids go to school from here and they come home here,” said LaMense.
The trained staff at Family Promise helps families address the circumstances that led to their homelessness and then chart a course for their future.
“Then, slowly but surely, they find a place for the family to move in and call home again,“ said LeMense.
LeMense said the stability Family Promise provides is crucial for children especially those under the age of five.
“They are tremendously impacted. They can have lasting consequences that will lead that child to be a discipline problem in school. They are seven times more likely to drop out of school. If they do that they are probably doomed to repeat homelessness.”
After nine weeks with Family Promise, Jones and her family moved into their new apartment in January. Jones said they overcame homelessness with the support and guidance of Family Promise. And she adds, her family grew along the way.
“I made a lot of good friends here,” said Jones. “Family Promise means family to me. I became part of this family. “
Family Promise currently has 73 families on a wait list for assistance.