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Voices of Family Promise


The Mid-Willamette Valley has been a growing hotspot of homelessness and housing instability even before the COVID-19 pandemic. For a number of years, a drive downtown showed clear evidence that our community does not have an adequate system of supports for our homeless neighbors. The visual heartbreak is backed up by the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) that Congress receives from HUD. It shows that Oregon leads the nation in terms of unsheltered families.

I’m scared it’s going to get much worse.

Response to the COVID-19 health crisis has caused formerly stable jobs to wither or disappear completely. Families that were once marginally unstable can no longer pay the rent, and families that have a roof over their heads are one small financial incident away from losing their home. We now face a looming eviction crisis unlike anything we have ever seen before. I’m worried that more children are going to sleep outside this winter.

I don’t say the following lightly: our decisions in the upcoming months will impact a generation.

An executive order from early April has prevented landlords from evicting tenants in Oregon until after September 30th. Earlier this week, Governor Brown, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human services extended the moratorium until December 31st. Without a significant financial investment, the new year may bring a wave of evictions unlike anything we have seen before. Our economically vulnerable neighbors and their children must be defended from a fiscal fallout that is not their fault and not of their making.

Avoiding eviction and keeping families housed makes good financial sense. Our model at Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley has good data that shows actual costs for prevention, shelter, and long-term support. Over the past four years, we have found that it costs about $153 per year to keep a child housed. Compare that to an average of $4,500 we must spend every time we rehouse a homeless family. If that same family becomes chronically homeless, stabilizing that household costs close to $15,000 per year. That figure is just a fraction of the long-term costs of homelessness to the public. In addition, industry data shows that there is no discernible difference in rent collection rates in states with eviction moratoriums still in place and those whose moratoriums have expired.

To meet this impending crisis, we need compassion and caring for every member of our community. I ask you to support shelters and service providers like Family Promise so we can amplify our work. Talk to law makers and urge them to continue the moratorium on evictions, to continue rental assistance that keeps families housed, and to enact legislation that protects renters.

If you want to help, please contact us at If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please reach out to

COVID-19 has altered our way of life; don’t let it negatively impact the lives of vulnerable Oregon families forever.

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  • T.J. Putman

After years of discussion, deliberation and discernment we changed our name from Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network (SIHN) to Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley and it wasn’t easy. There was the logistical side where there was an endless list of things to do, like using up old stationary, changing our website and informing the post office. We made it through that step with only a couple small hiccups. The hardest part of the name change was not tangible. Will we remain true to our mission? Would we continue to follow God’s promise in Matthew 11:28? (Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.) What about our new commitment to the word PROMISE? Could our promise as a faith community reflect the inherent potential and value of every family? I regularly assess where we stand in regard to our mission. We received a little affirmation of this promise when a formerly homeless mother shared the impact we had on her life. I encourage you to spend two minutes watching the video below.

P.S. More than ever before, We're committed to our mission and our promise to the community, “We are congregations practicing hospitality to stand together against homelessness and see lives changed, including our own. I'm thankful that you are part of that with us.

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  • T.J. Putman

On a typical night, 43 congregations shares part in providing shelter or housing assistance for about 155 of our neighbors in need.  The work we do through Family Promise/Interfaith Hospitality Network has a big footprint in our community. Our community is better because of our work, but it also needs our help.

Like all of you, we’re monitoring the current health crisis.  This includes working with our county health department, the CDC and HUD for best practices to protect volunteers, staff, and the families we serve.  We even have a local physician advising us through this process and is available to quickly answer any questions.

Now, more than ever, our community needs our help.  I’d like to highlight a few points as we work through this challenging time:

Homelessness and housing instability will continue to increase – our services will continue to be a critical need.  We’re reaching out to local and national representatives to see if there are legislative ways to keep people out of homelessness through this health crisis.

This crisis is going to hit families hard. We’re expecting to see a loss of wages, jobs, transportation, limited childcare and more. Please help us by advocating for any program that provides these resources in our community.

This is an unprecedented effort, the likes of which I haven’t seen before in my lifetime. We have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of hope.  Let’s provide hope during this time. Together, we can meet this challenge as a community.


T.J. Putman

Executive Director

P.S.  If you’d like to help, we’re going to need food, supplies, and funding for housing assistance.  You can find ways to engage at

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