FESCO — the Family Emergency Shelter Coalition — is a nonprofit organization comprised of over 30 churches and community members in the Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and San Leandro, Union City,California area. FESCO serves homeless families with food, shelter, counseling and links to community resources.

The 24-bed Shelter ("Marquis House") is open all day, every day, and houses approximately 100 families with children each year (about 120 adults and over 200 children). The 4-unit permanent housing project, 3rd Street apartments, provide low-cost rental housing with supportive services. FESCO offers a full range of basic and support services to help families get off the streets, off welfare, and on their feet! In 2003, FESCO opened a multi-unit community living center called Banyan House.

The Family Emergency Shelter Coalition (FESCO) was organized for the purpose of providing services to homeless and very low income families in Alameda County. FESCO’s mission is: helping homeless families move toward self-sufficiency by instilling or restoring dignity, self-esteem, and self-reliance so that families, their individual members, and the community are strengthened. FESCO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, governed by a Coalition of area churches and community members.

In its founding documents in 1986, special emphasis was placed on keeping families together during their period of homelessness. Thus, in addition to serving single mothers with children, FESCO serves single fathers, two-parent families with children, and teenage males as part of a family group. FESCO has the only shelter in Mid-Alameda County that serves families of all configurations. FESCO incorporated in 1986, purchased and rehabilitated its 2200-square-foot two-story home (built in 1917) near downtown Hayward, and began serving homeless families in 1988. The Shelter accommodates 8-10 families at a time, with most staying an average of 42 days before moving into housing.

After the first year, FESCO recognized the importance of addressing the multitude of challenges that very low and low income families face. Without professional assistance in sorting through these complex issues, families can become so overwhelmed that they are unable to take action. FESCO incorporated professional counseling and life skills training as program support services to address the deeply-rooted common threads among homeless families — inadequate life skills and ineffective decision-making. In addition, follow-up with Shelter families after moving into their own housing allows families and professional staff to address issues that continue to arise and threaten the vulnerable self-sufficiency of these at-risk families.

Factors influencing this program decision were (1) the alarming increase in the number of families becoming homeless, (2) recognition of the difficulty that families experience in breaking the cycle of repeated homelessness, and (3) the need for supportive services among families living in poverty. Today, FESCO services have evolved to include basic and support services for homeless families in several categories — those who reside in the Shelter, those who formerly resided in the Shelter and are now in either FESCO's pernament apartment units or the Banyan House transitional co-housing facility, and former residents who have moved into their own housing. FESCO employs a holistic approach to empower families, recognizing that a healthy lifestyle balances mental, physical, emotional and spiritual attitudes.

FESCO Milestones

1985 — Grassroots organization by members of 18 Hayward / Castro Valley area                churches
1986 — Incorporated as Family Emergency Shelter Coalition
1987 — House in downtown Hayward purchased and rehabilitated for use as                    Shelter for 8 - 10 families
1988 — Delivery of emergency and basic services commenced
1990 — Additional support services for residents initiated
1991 — Homeless prevention activities begun among heads-of-households                    enrolled in vocational training programs.
1993 — Home Share project implemented as a means to reduce housing costs
1994 — Began delivery of support services at Glen Berry Apartments, a joint                    venture with Eden Housing, Inc.
1995 — Dedicated staffing to provide aftercare services for former shelter                        residents
1996 — Completed purchase of four apartment units next door to the Shelter, for             use as Permanent Housing
1997 — Enhanced children's program and added children's specialist to staff.                     Program and site development for Transitional Housing
1999 — Opening of Transitional Housing facility to provide extended stay with                    supportive services to homeless families with children
2000 — Obtained former convalescent home for Permanent  Co-Housing facility
2001 — Acquired small house behind Shelter for use as Counseling Center
2002 — Groundbreaking of Transitional Co-Housing facility rehabilitation project
2003 — Official opening of 8-unit Banyan House transitional co-housing facility

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