January 2017    |    Vol. 8, No. 1
Families too often spend 50-60 percent of income on housing

As we start 2017 with a full house here at Family Promise, I found a couple of noteworthy and intriguing commentaries on the need for organizations like ours. 
I spend time each week looking at listings for apartments and houses in the area for our guest families. On any given day, the least expensive two-bedroom apartment is around $900 per month. The traditionally recommended ratio of rent to income is 30%. That means that a family would have to have a monthly income of $2700. That comes out to around $17 per hour, 40 hours per week to comfortably afford that apartment. 

It is not unusual for our families to spend 50% of their monthly income on rent, which is more realistic at an hourly wage of $11.25 for 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, that is still out of reach for many in Sarasota, where wages in service and care jobs are low and the hours are limited. This translates to a family looking at 60% or more of their income going to rent -- with no margin for car repairs, health expenses, or any other emergencies. Under such circumstances, eviction becomes a frightening and real -- even likely -- possibility.

Families in Sarasota routinely face evictions. Our office receives calls for help on a daily basis, but the volume increases later in the month, as the eviction process moves families closer to homelessness. Once a person has been evicted, it is much more difficult to find another rental. In most cases, an evictee permanently loses any opportunity for Section 8 housing. If the family has any other barriers to housing, such as bad credit, felonies, or poor work history, it become nearly impossible to find a place to live, much less a safe location with good school options for the kids.

On a more uplifting note, thanks to a few open-minded local landlords, we are able to help our families secure good housing upon completion of our program. This second chance is usually all they need to succeed. 

-- Becky Taylor, director
It's almost Blues Festival time
The Suncoast Blues Festival is this weekend, and we're thrilled to be the official charity recipient. We'll have staff, board members and volunteers out at the festival, spreading the word about the work Family Promise does in the community.  Our involvement with the festival has done Family Promise so much good -- in terms of both financial support and community awareness of our organization. 

In case you still want to get tickets, please buy them at one of the spots listed below. (We don't get proceeds from tickets sold at the event -- only from tickets we sell ourselves.)  Ticket prices are $15 for Friday only, $25 for Saturday only and $35 for both days. 

And if you see board member Meredith Strahle, please thank her for her tireless work over the last several months, securing sponsorships, selling tickets and organizing our involvement in this great event. 
A delicious night out at El Greco
Make plans to attend our next Dine Out fundraiser, Monday, Jan. 30 at the always delicious El Greco Mediterranean Cafe. If you eat there from 5-9 that evening, a portion of the proceeds will benefit our program. Call 941-365-2234 for a reservation if you plan to bring a party of 4 or more. Bring your friends! 
A new face in the office: Maureen Martin

Here is a note from Maureen Martin, who is new on the staff as the Network Assistant. 

I started my career, way back when, in religious broadcasting-with syndicated radio productions on the Ave Maria Hour, producing radio-tv shows for the Archdiocese of New York an
d researching and writing features for NYC media focusing on drug and alcohol abuse, runaways and the homeless, abuse, and senior needs.

Later, following an off-Broadway run of my critically acclaimed play The Red Hat, I taught writing at St. Peter's College (NJ campuses), mentored with students at Empire State Colle
ge (Old Westbury NY), and taught intensive writing workshops throughout the tri-state area.
Shifting gears slightly, I moved to the ASPCA (NYC), where I developed classes and assembly programs in companion animal care and issues, making a difference for animals and individuals, one-on-one, one person/one pet at a time.

In Sarasota, I've worked in marketing, tech, education, and customer service throughout the arts and theatre milieu. I've been honored to be on the Board of the Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary, the Rainbow Trunk Theatre, and the Sarasota AIDS Theatre Project. I am equally honored to be a citizen of the world community, where we all come together to celebrate our difference ... and thus make a difference. Glad to be here, at Family Promise, where making a difference fulfills a promise.
A new face on the board of trustees: Toska Strong

T oska Strong has lived in Sarasota for 24 years. She works alongside her husband and his son in a family owned construction and development business. 

Toska has been involved with the community for many years through the Downtown Relay for Life, Florida Studio Theatre, The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. She is active in her church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, which is one of our host congregations.
Are you following us on Facebook? 
We post regular updates about how our guests are doing, thank-you's to volunteers and community partners and requests for specific kinds of help.  While email updates come just once or twice a month, Facebook updates can help you stay up to date more often. Plus, when you interact with our posts on Facebook, it shows those posts to more people, and our visibility in the community increases. Search for Family Promise of Sarasota, or click here if you're logged into Facebook

Family Promise of Sarasota Contact Information
Mailing: PO Box 48199, Sarasota FL 34230-8199
Telephone: 941-952-1800
Website: Family Promise of Sarasota
Facebook: Family Promise of Sarasota

Family Promise of Sarasota Inc.
is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Florida Corporation. 
Our volunteer Board of Trustees consists of George Lavigne, president; Sandee Davis, vice president; Shawn Machado, secretary; and Jeanne Zeigler, Wendy Leventhal, Andrew Lowther, Tyler Hayden, Meredith Strahle, Danielle Bourque, Joy Mayer, and Toska Strong.