In the late 1980’s, there was a single mother in the Churchville area who found herself unable to provide for her child. She had nowhere to turn, no one who could help her. In desperation, and knowing that her child would not have a bed to sleep in unless she did something, she turned to one of the nine Episcopal Churches in Harford County for assistance. There was only a limited amount any one Church could do for this mother and her child. A call for help went out and the nine Episcopal Churches pooled their resources and were able to provide temporary shelter and support for this family. Within a few months, the mother had secured a job and was able to stand on her own two feet. Without the support provided by these Churches, who knows what would have happened to this family.
From this initial desire and ability to help one family, these churches banded together to form Holy Family House. Over the years, Holy Family House continued to provide housing and support to families who had nowhere else to turn. In the early years, everything was done by volunteers. As the need grew, so did Holy Family House. After a while, the organization grew too big for volunteers to handle effectively, so professional staff members were hired.
In 2004, Holy Family House was able to purchase the Delle Grove Apartment Building in Aberdeen. Shortly after, the name was changed to Harford Family House, Inc. to reflect the many churches, businesses, community leaders and organizations who had become a part of the organization.
In 2009, HFH was designated a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), expanding the ability to provide affordable housing options to homeless families with children.
Today Harford Family House continues to position itself to meet the growing and changing needs of homeless families with children in Harford County. This requires that we not only maintain current services, but change and grow to meet the needs of our homeless clients.
Although we serve all types of families, the majority of our families in past years have been single mothers with children. While that is still the case, we also serve single fathers, two parent families, single young adults under the age of 25 and families with non-traditional structures. Currently, in all of our programs, we have the capacity to serve 30 families at one time. HFH is the largest shelter in Harford County that can serve an intact family consisting of a father, mother and children.
Cost effectiveness of the program is also significant. HFH costs run $24.71 per night, per person including all services provided. In New York City, the cost is $31 per night per person. A day in jail is $165, a psychiatric hospital $467 and a community hospital $1,185. In Harford County, Social Services houses families in hotels during freezing weather at a cost of $45 a night not including the cost of services.
Last year, 83% of the families exiting the program went on to safe, stable, permanent housing.