Family Foothill Shelter stands proudly among Inland Empire nonprofits as it continues to provide families in need with assistance—everything from jobs, food, and housing to financial literacy skills and parenting classes. As the organization heads into 2024, it reaches a milestone 40th anniversary, which Executive Director Savannah Mlot says will fuel an even brighter future.

We’re using all of 2024 to celebrate our 40th year,” she says. “When we started as a nonprofit, we would just provide motel vouchers and put people in a motel. Now, we’re excited to celebrate the transformation of our program, in which we have a 79% success rate, meaning that 79% of the families who leave our program end up in stable, secure housing that they can afford and maintain.”

The organization originally began as St. Mark’s Homeless Shelter, and four years later, transitioned into a 501c3. Three unique, progressive programs anchor the services offered, beginning with a 120-day housing program, then a one-year housing program, and finally, an extended housing program. Not all families in need go through all levels as needs vary.

 In 2024, Mlot says Family Foothill Shelter is embarking on a bold mission to raise $140,000, which will assist the nonprofit to assist families in the region who are facing the sobering realities of homelessness by providing support, shelter, and other opportunities. The endgame: to thwart homelessness.

The organization’s shelter has seven two-bedroom apartments which are fully furnished and offered free for a maximum of 120 days to qualified families. It also provides 12 two-bedroom apartments for one-year transitional housing and eight two-bedroom apartments for extended housing.

Volunteers, interns, and donations all filter into the mix, as does shared information with the public on ways to assist. 

Recently, Family Foothill Shelter received a grant from the Inland Empire Community Foundation through the Women’s Giving Fund, which focuses on helping with issues impacting women and children and experiencing the power of collaborative philanthropy.

“Our program serves families, and currently 20 out of 25 of our families are single moms with children,” Mlot notes. “And while we don’t directly aim our services towards them, that’s who ends up needing us the most, even though we serve all families. The recent funding helps us provide 120 days of rent and utility, two-bedroom fully furnished apartment to families experiencing homelessness.”

Mlot points out that three-months rent and utility-free assistance allows families to regroup and find their footing. There are several protocols, however, which require families to save 50% of their income during those 120 days. 

“That is strategic because once they leave our program, they’re able to put first and last month’s rent down on an apartment,” she says. “And in those 120 days, many people can find new job opportunities, or find a raise, or we help them improve their resume so they can find better jobs.”

All clients begin with the 120-day program and progress from there.

Mlot, who came on as executive director in August, says that the non-profit’s programs are very well-rounded and include wrap-around services.

“We’re not just providing housing for the night,” she says. “We’re providing the families with a program that’s going to help them get back on their feet and most of the families we serve end up becoming homeless because of a situation that happened in their life. For example, they lost a loved one, which meant loss of income, or they lost their job. 

“The people we serve are not chronically homeless, where they’re out on the streets, and they don’t want to work, or they don’t want to improve their lives,” she adds. “They’re people who just came across a tough time or didn’t grow up in an environment where they learned about financial literacy, or what it is like to budget. Our program provides them that skill and foundation for them to take it to the next level to ensure that they won’t be in that position again.”

Mlot goes on to say that she appreciates the well-roundedness of the programs, which run the gamut of assistance. “It’s everything that people could need so when they leave our program, they have all the tools and resources to become sustainable and stable,” she says.

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This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise December 2023.

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