Berglund Family, Family Promise

Amber Berglund joins her children, from left, Harlie, 6, Mateo, 1, Joseph, 8, and Cedar, 3, for a photo Wednesday at an apartment complex in Bozeman. Through Family Promise, Berglund is moving into a transitional housing unit to help ease an influx of people requesting assistance from the program.

Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Amber Berglund moved to Bozeman so she and her four children could be closer to her family. She spent six months working as a property manager and living in company-provided housing. When she was dismissed without explanation, she had three days to pack up and find a new home.

She couldn’t live with her parents who didn’t have enough room for her and her children. She considered living in her van.

She ultimately called Family Promise, a local nonprofit, and has been staying with the organization since mid-January. Now, she is working in snow removal and lawn care and will be moving with her children into a transitional home in Belgrade.

With the increase in unemployment as a result of the new coronavirus, Family Promise is seeing a greater need for its shelter. To accommodate the increased demand, the organization is working to move more families like Berglund’s into transitional housing.

“With a new home, I know I’m going to have somewhere to go that is a safe and healthy place for my kids,” Berglund said.

Family Promise can house four families at a time, said executive director Christel Chvilicek. On Monday, the nonprofit received five calls, while it typically sees one or two per week.

“That’s just one day, but it’s pretty indicative of what we’re going through,” Chvilicek said.

Family Promise is now one of the only shelters operating in Bozeman.

The Human Resource Development Council closed the Warming Center about two weeks ago because it couldn’t space sleeping bunks consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HRDC is still providing showers, bathrooms, wellness checks and other services from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at the Warming Center on Industrial Drive.

Family Promise typically houses families in a church for one week before moving them to a new church. Now, Family Promise is using a single location for its shelter to minimize the possibility of exposure to the virus. Volunteers are dropping off meals and families are receiving gift cards for groceries to limit social interactions.

“It’s important for us to keep finding ways to operate,” Chvilicek said. “While a lot of people are sheltering in place, imagine what it must be like if you don’t have a home.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Steve Bullock ordered landlords not to evict tenants and prevented foreclosures and utility cut-offs until his stay-at-home order is lifted. The order is set to expire on April 10 but may be extended. Chvilicek foresees the order helping families in the short-term but still anticipates a greater need for Family Promise’s services. On Wednesday, she took calls from three new families looking for help.

“The worry now is that when this is over, we’ll be hit hard,” Chvilicek said. “Once the order is lifted, it’s likely some people still won’t be able to pay rent and they’ll be reaching out to us.”

Omar Jaime said he has been grateful that Family Promise has been able to keep operating and was able to help his family find transitional housing. In fact, he, his wife and their three children received the keys to their new Bozeman home this week.

“We feel very blessed and overjoyed,” he said. “I feel like a person again.”

It’s been months since Jaime and his family have had a home. Their landlord sold the home they had been living in without warning. They ended up in a Bozeman motel until their money ran out. They then stayed at the Warming Center and in their car until they found Family Promise’s shelter program.

With a new home, Jaime said his family has a fresh start and can keep working toward getting their own place.

“I hope Family Promise can continue to help families like ours,” he said. “What they’ve done is give us a great opportunity.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.