With a generous grant, the organization has placed housing advocates in three additional Bethlehem Area School District schools.
New Bethany Ministries (NBM) has partnered with the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) to expand its school presence. Members of the BASD school board recently approved increasing NBM housing advocate positions in three supplementary locations through an American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth grant. The grant sets aside Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to provide support and resources for homeless children and youth.
NBM’s Housing Advocacy Program was initially announced last year thanks to a generous donor from United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, which placed NBM housing advocates in three BASD schools, including Donegan Elementary School, Broughal Middle School, and Fountain Hill Elementary School. Through this program, housing advocates work collaboratively with faculty to support families in Bethlehem schools and continues to provide rental and other housing assistance services to those in need. With the incorporation of BASD’s acquired ESSER funds, the organization now provides on-site housing advocates at six BASD schools, including three additional elementary schools, Marvine Elementary School, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, and William Penn Elementary School. As a result of this expansion, NBM can fulfill its mission of providing comprehensive programming to help individuals and families work towards, achieve, and maintain self-sufficiency.
Currently, each housing advocate spends 20 hours a week providing counseling, rent assistance, housing placement, and establishing relationships at each school to create a comfortable atmosphere for students and families. In the program’s first year, about 40 families experiencing financial insecurities received housing assistance.
“New Bethany Ministries is committed to its mission of offering hope and support to people who experience poverty, hunger, and homelessness with dignity and care without judgment,” said Veronne Demesyeux, associate executive director of NBM. “Housing insecurity affects children’s mental health and directly impacts a child in school, and we can start to see that trauma in their performance. We want our families to know that they can count on us during challenging times, which will positively impact their child’s well-being, especially in school settings.”