Family Tree tackles housing instability by focusing on several major issues that cause homelessness

June 25, 2024

When Carrie and Alonzo first heard about Family Tree, both had just lost their jobs. Carrie was dealing with illness and lost her insurance when she lost her job. This was devastating for their family.  

Her illness would require annual surgeries, and she questioned how they were going to pay for all those procedures.  

“It was at a point where we had no income, and it was really hard,” said Alonzo. “I grew up during a time when I was taught not to ask for help. You tough it out. You find a way.”  

Family Tree Carrie And Alonzo (22)
Carrie and Alonzo, clients of Family Tree

Family Tree’s case managers helped Carrie and Alonzo get off the streets and into a home. “Being a part of Family Tree made us feel like family,” said Alonzo. 

They’ve been a part of Family Tree’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program for more than a decade. This is a long-term rental assistance program so that individuals can use their income for other expenses like food. 

Family Tree programming includes budgeting classes, an information helpline, homeless prevention services, case management, education and employment services, and various other supportive services in order to help people achieve economic independence. 

“What their budgeting classes taught us was to pay our bills on time,” said Alonzo. “Not to go above our means, stay within our means in everything we’re doing,” added Carrie. 

Their goal is to maintain their budget, maintain Carrie’s health, and one day get their own home. “Then come back and be mentors with Family Tree,” said Carrie. “To teach couples, or families, how we did it.”  

When Carrie and Alonzo enrolled in the Family Tree homelessness programs they identified three goals: gain financial security, address Carrie’s health issues, and stabilize their family.

Family Tree Dontae Latson (24)
Dontae Latson, Family Tree’s Chief Executive Officer

“We were able to offer connections and resources needed to provide housing and to manage Carrie’s ongoing health issues,” said Dontae Latson, Family Tree’s Chief Executive Officer. 

“They were also provided guidance in home budgeting and goal setting so they would be able to manage on their own. With dedication, they’re now thriving.” 

“You can’t imagine what a great feeling it is to have someone care about you that much,” said Alonzo in tears.  

Carrie and Alonzo were honored during Family Tree’s Celebration of Achievement for the successful journey they’ve had through the program.  

In addition to Family Tree supporting families experiencing housing instability, Family Tree has other focus areas.  

Family Tree works to prevent the interconnected issues of child abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness to promote safety, stability, and healing.  

Family Tree helped Carrie and Alonzo through several of their programs including financial security support. The organization also addresses the interconnected issues of child abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness to promote safety, healing, and stability across generations.  

“Family Tree’s strength is that we are the only organization in Metro Denver actively working to improve economic stability and alleviate homelessness and poverty by addressing the intersections of child abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness.”

- Dontae Latson, Family Tree’s Chief Executive Officer

Case managers work alongside people affected by child abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness throughout their journey to safety and economic empowerment, providing emergency residential services, case management and advocacy, therapeutic services, outreach support, housing search and placement, education, and employment support. 

Family Tree serves seven counties in the Denver Metro area.  

“In the last fiscal year, we served over 4,700 clients with direct in-person services and an additional 17,000 through our crisis and helpline calls,” said Latson. 

With the support of The Denver Foundation and its donors, Family Tree will continue to meet the needs of individuals and families from our community and develop a greater capacity to meet the demand for services for people on their way to safety, stability, and healing. 

“If you give people shelter, that’s just the first step to restoring their dignity,” said Latson. “But it also must be accompanied with the appropriate services. or it’s going to be very difficult for that person or that family to continue on that path to success.”   

The Denver Foundation believes adequate, accessible housing is essential for a community to function. Affordable housing is a value we are proud to invest in. The Denver Foundation and its donors have been funding Family Tree for decades.  

Photos courtesy: Armando Geneyro