“According to comprehensive new data from the Prosperity Now Scorecard, a staggering 40 percent of American households live one missed paycheck away from poverty. That population of proud, hardworking Americans who we used to call the great American middle class are one unexpected expense, one layoff, one medical emergency, one missed paycheck, one government shutdown away from poverty.”
Many years ago, Friendship House saw a gap for those in our community dangerously close to experiencing homelessness and displacement. Especially those who are one crisis away from losing their safety net. The first step was to open our Newark Empowerment Center when several churches in Newark also saw a gap of services. When we thought we would be serving mostly those experiencing “house-lessness,” we actually have served more men and women in Newark with jobs in homes who found themselves in a crisis and needing our help. Instead of being homeless, they were just on the brink.
Seeing many in our community struggling who live outside of the traditional social services that exist in the city of Wilmington, we began what we called a “suburban expansion.” In 2016 we received grants giving us the ability to open our MOT Empowerment Center serving Middletown, Odessa and Townsend. We are actively talking with churches and faith communities in Millcreek and Pike Creek who see the gap and need in their community and are looking for a way to help us open our fourth empowerment center, nestled in another New Castle County suburban neighborhood.
Our friends throughout New Castle County and Delaware are in need of help even though they may not live under the official poverty line. In reality, they live dangerously close to slipping under that line. We all have experienced or are at risk of experiencing homelessness and displacement. One crisis away from losing it all. At Friendship House we don’t define homelessness as living on the streets or being without a home of one’s own. We define it as a time in one’s life where they are lost or displaced, including when someone has been temporarily furloughed and can no longer afford rent, groceries, and the electric bill at the same time.
Being in a unique position where we have chosen to not accept government money allows us to open the door to every individual or family regardless of their situation – we are not limited by one’s income status or location. We are here to listen. And we are here to help. Whether employed, living in a shelter, working through an addiction, or just not sure where to go – we are here for you.
– Kim Eppehimer (Executive Director)