Connecting the homeless

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Families in Transition
City & State:
New Hampshire
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To provide safe affordable housing and comprehensive social services to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

At Families in Transition, we believe that the provision of shelter alone is not enough to end the homelessness that we see in our community. Instead, overcoming the root causes of homelessness requires that families have access to both safe and affordable housing as well as to comprehensive supportive services that will help them to achieve long term economic and emotional stability.

When a participant enters Families in Transition, they are first provided with a safe and affordable apartment. All of the residential units provide families with a safe and pleasant living space consisting of a living room, a full bathroom, and a complete kitchen. To ensure that the needs of a diverse array of families are met, both one and two bedroom units are available. In addition, to address the shortage of housing for the physically disabled, many of the units in the program are either handicapped accessible or handicapped adaptable. Gas, heat, and electricity are included in the monthly rent, thus helping to ensure that the basic needs of residents are met.


Once the immediate need for shelter is met, FIT’s supportive service team begins to work with the participant to address the underlying causes of their homelessness. An Integrated Team Approach (ITA) is utilized to provide services to FIT participants. The ITA provides participants with comprehensive support from a team of specialized social service providers including a Master’s Level Clinician, a Case Manager, a Youth Coordinator, and a Property Administrator. Participants with substance abuse disorders are further served by FIT’s Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program at The Family Willows Recovery Center. Participants also receive an array of complementary services from numerous community partners including community self-help groups and the Healthcare for the Homeless Mobile Community Health Team.


This team of specialists assists the participant in the development of a case plan that outlines steps the participant feels are necessary to achieve economic and emotional stability. Each plan includes specific strategies to address the root causes of homelessness such as mental illness, addiction/alcoholism, physical illness, and poor job skills. Each team member plays an essential role in helping the participant to reach their identified goals and address the many complex factors that led to their homelessness


Using Technology to Improve Services to Homeless Families


In 2006, Families in Transition received a substantial donation from TechSoup which included four laptops with wireless internet cards and Microsoft Office software. This equipment has allowed FIT to optimize the delivery of its mission, thereby increasing the quality of services available to its participants.


Because many of the women and children who arrive at Families in Transition have histories filled with fear and violence, FIT recognizes that a key component in helping them to overcome their past involves the establishment of a trusting relationship built on mutual understanding and respect. For many of FIT’s participants, the ability to trust in others is something that has long been destroyed. In order to begin building a trusting relationship with participants, supportive service staff spend many weeks, months, and sometimes years working in a one-on-one environment to address the unique needs of each participant. Case managers understand that the process may be slow, but that their patience and understanding can mean the difference in the lives of extremely vulnerable men, women, and children suffering from the complex effects of homelessness.


The clinical staff at Families in Transition have long recognized that building a trusting relationship is facilitated when they are able to meet with participants in places where they feel safest and most comfortable. For the majority of participants, this place is in their new homes, which for many, is the first place that they have ever felt truly safe. The new laptops provided by the TechSoup donation have been essential in helping clinical staff to make this important service a reality. Although staff were able to meet with participants in their homes before they had the laptops, it often meant that additional work would need to be done in order to properly document participant progress. In addition to providing clinical staff with access to their files so that they can look back into previous notes while meeting with a participant, the laptops allow participants and case managers to document progress, setbacks and future goals together. By having these documents readily available, case managers and participants can work together on a myriad of activities, whether it be advancing their case plan, securing a government benefit, or researching community connections. Case managers have reported that this process is essential in building lasting trust with participants.


In addition to helping clinical staff to build trusting relationships with their clients, wireless connectivity, also donated by TechSoup, has allowed the clinical staff to greatly increase the ease with which they can serve FIT participants. With wireless connectivity, participants and clinical staff are able to research and access appropriate supportive services together. This process not only increases access to much needed community resources, but also teaches participants important skills needed to ensure long-term wellbeing for themselves and their children. The sense of empowerment that comes with the knowledge and skills gained from this process helps families to achieve long-term emotional and economic stability.


In 2008, FIT proudly served 372 homeless individuals, including 187 children. Unfortunately during that same year, FIT received 3,277 referrals from homeless individuals in need of housing and services, over 11 times that which we were able to serve. As the number of homeless individuals and families continues to grow, FIT recognizes the need to continually find ways to improve the quality and efficiency of the services it provides both to prevent homelessness from re-occurring as well to serve more people in need. The donations and technical support provided by Microsoft and TechSoup help FIT to ensure that vulnerable families are receiving the highest quality care and that FIT has the tools necessary to realize its mission of ending the cycle of homelessness.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery