LIMA — Family Promise, located at 129 S. Pierce St., is an organization that helps homeless families in Lima. The agency strives to keep struggling families together.
Family Promise has the capacity of serving three families. That capacity could double to six, as the Sprague family of Lima has donated a house located at 730 W. Elm St.. The dwelling will be known as the Sprague Transitional House, after the family that donated it.
While donations to nonprofits are widely accepted from clothing to cars, a house being donated is a big deal.
“The Spragues contacted Family Promise about their parents wanting to donate this house to Family Promise,” said Russ Thomas, executive director of Family Promise of Lima-Allen County. “The parents knew of Family Promise through attending Trinity United Methodist Church, liked the fact that we keep unsheltered families together, that we don’t separate them, and wanted this home to go to our agency for our use.”
Family Promise is a faith-based agency working with community partners dedicated to helping families achieve and sustain independence by providing help, hope and a safe haven as family members seek employment and housing. It is the only shelter in Allen County that serves entire families without separating them.
According to the Allen County Auditor’s website, the house located at 730 W. Elm St. was built in 1920 and is valued at $38,100. It contains 2,094 square feet, and includes four bedrooms and two and one half baths.
“From what I understand from him [Laurin Sprague], he didn’t give an exact number of years but I know they were sort of a collector of antiques and they used it as storage for the last few years. There was no once actually living in it for a residence for a period of time,” Thomas said.
Thomas is looking at renovating the house into a multifamily home, serving at least two families, and hopefully three.
“Right now for sure two. We’ve got measurements being done and entered into AutoCAD so that we can determine if it’s possible to get three units out of it. It has a full attic, and it could be a third, just an efficiency for a parent and child or a couple,” Thomas said.
While the idea of renovating a house can be daunting, Thomas wants to make sure the agency gets the full use out of the house. He is hoping to assemble an advisory board.
“I am trying to get a lot of input from a lot of people’s minds into this thing so we can make this thing the best we can. There’s a lot greater minds out there than mine when it comes to the legalities, regulations, and those sort of things. We don’t want to miss a beat out there as we go forward and not have to backtrack,” Thomas said.
Until the advisory board is assembled, things are going to move forward on the house as fast as they can.
“One of the things I am wanting to do is I am going to reach out to a contractor to just kind of give us a general idea what needs to be done behind the walls, the infrastructure, electric and plumbing,” Thomas said. “Then see if we can get sponsors, people to sponsor each individual room, corporate or private donors who would want to sponsor a room, and then we could have a plaque put above the door” naming the sponsor.
There is a successful transitional program at Family Promise in Raleigh, North Carolina, that Thomas hopes to emulate.
“The agency as it currently stands will not change, and so the people that graduate into this transitional housing, it will be based on their activities, their motivation and case management. We will continue the program as it is and use this two- or three-unit home as transitional living once a family has gained employment. They could live there up to a year,” Thomas said.
Thomas has further plans for the agency, if it works out, that will help these families in the Sprague Transitional Housing.
“Right now I’ve got Amanda Downey working on finding out if it’s possible for us to become an agency that reports to the credit bureau and then as they make their program fee, we’re not landlords, it’s not rent but still part of our program under our case management, so I’m calling it a program fee, that I can report that to the credit bureau and they can leave here with their credit improved and a down-payment to put down toward a house,” Thomas said. “We’re excited about that aspect. It’s working in Raleigh, so it can work here too.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.