Dawning Family Services is the only low-barrier shelter for families with minor children in Hillsborough County. It helps with family homeless prevention, emergency shelter, rehousing and employment services.

Dawning Family Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and services for Hillsborough families with children under the age of 18 and/or a pregnant women who are touched by homelessness. This includes single-parent families, couples with children, multigenerational families and LGBTQ+ parents with children.

Specifically, Dawning Family Services has four pillars of service, which include family homeless prevention, an emergency shelter, a rapid rehousing program and employment services. Additionally, it has a food pantry and computer lab.

The only eligibility requirements are that, in addition to living in Hillsborough and having at least one child under the age of 18 and/or a pregnant women, families must present a government-issued photo ID.

James Whitehurst, director of development for Dawning Family Services, explained, “Each family is unique with different circumstances. We typically provide services for families up to a year to one and half years. Approximately 80 percent of our families in emergency shelter move into permanent housing within two to three months. Once a family moves into permanent housing, we can continue working with them on a graduated scale to ensure that they are stable and do not fall back into homelessness. Additionally, family members can contact us anytime to receive further employment support services, such as job interview skills, job search and job placement.”

Dawning Family Services has an emergency shelter located near USF. However, to be clear, Dawning Family Services can assist any family with a minor child who lives in Hillsborough County.

Whitehurst said, “Dawning Family Services is the only low-barrier shelter for families in Hillsborough County. We work with all families regardless of their size, income, mental health, criminal background and substance misuse issues. We believe every child deserves a safe place to sleep and hope for a brighter future. Support from our community will help us continue serving our community’s most vulnerable families.”

Dawning Family Services started in 1981 as Alpha House of Tampa, providing housing and services only for single mothers with children under the age of 5 and pregnant women. In 2018, it expanded its mission and services to provide for more families and rebranded from Alpha House of Tampa to Dawning Family Services.

To get help, visit www.dawningfamilyservices.org and submit a “Get Help” form, or call 813-875-2024.

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