Decatur Cooperative Ministry

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Coordinates: 33°46′19″N 84°17′40″W / 33.772057°N 84.294523°W / 33.772057; -84.294523

Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission it is to prevent and alleviate homelessness while affirming the dignity of each family. Located in downtown [ Decatur, Georgia, and Metro Atlanta DCM provides housing assistance to the surrounding DeKalb County area by providing emergency shelter for women with children, long-term transitional housing for families with children, and bill payment assistance to prevent eviction, foreclosure, or utility cut-off.

DCM was founded in 1969 by a small group of Christian churches in response to community concerns for children who did not have after-school care or supervision. DCM is now supported by over 35 congregations from 14 faith practices as well as by the United Way, educational institutions, government agencies, businesses, civic organizations and community groups.

Core values[edit]

The core values of DCM are:

Although closely affiliated with numerous religious organizations, DCM program participants are not required to participate in religious activities. DCM maintains a policy of non-discrimination either in employment or in services based on religion, race, physical ability, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or age. A person's religious beliefs or practices, if known, are not considered when determining eligibility for services.


Family Transitional Housing[edit]

Since Family House's inception in 1983, The Family House program provides housing and support services to move families from homelessness to self-reliance in 6 to 24 months. The program uses single-family houses and apartments throughout DeKalb County. Both single and two-parent families are accommodated, and hard-to-place families, including those headed by single fathers or with teenage boys, are welcome.

In 2009, DCM provided a temporary home for 10 families through its Family Transitional Housing program, thus helping 12 parents and 30 children during a critical period in their lives. In the year 2010 Family House provided housing and comprehensive support services to 11 separate families, totaling to 46 people. One-hundred percent (%100) of families who exited the program in the past two years have acquired permanent housing.

Families can be referred to Family House by another agency, schools, congregations, or any advocate. They may also refer themselves. Family House residents put 30% of their adjusted income into an account with DCM. At the end of their participation in the program, all but 10% is returned to the family as savings. This money can be used for rent, security and utility deposits, and moving expenses.

Participating families may receive:

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Case management
  • Clinical counseling
  • Financial management classes
  • A savings plan see details below
  • Computer training opportunities
  • Referrals to other services, such as free child care, legal assistance, health care, etc.

Hagar’s House[edit]

DCM's emergency night shelter program offers at least 30 nights of short-term housing and has room for up to 30 guests. Inspired by the inspirational biblical story of Hagar’s courage and endurance through adversity, the shelter is called “Hagar's House” and features various support services for women with children. Hagar's House is unique because it can accommodate very large families and families with teenage boys – two groups that typically struggle to find emergency shelter.

In 2009, Hagar's House provided 60 families made up of 65 mothers and 155 children with temporary, emergency shelter. In the year 2010 Hagar's House provided crisis intervention, and support services to 214 mothers and children, totalling 50 families. In 2010 over half of program participants moved into longer-term, more stable housing in less than 90 days.

Families can be referred to Hagar's House by another agency, schools, congregations, or any advocate. They may also refer themselves. Participating families may receive:

  • Thorough assessment and crisis intervention
  • Two meals per day
  • Laundry facilities
  • MARTA (local public transportation) fares
  • Computer training opportunities
  • Employment counseling
  • Support group options
  • Case management
  • Referrals to other services, such as free child care, legal assistance, health care, etc.

Project Take Charge[edit]

Project Take Charge” is a homelessness prevention program that provides emergency assistance with rent, utilities, and food. The program serves DeKalb County residents who are in immediate danger of eviction, foreclosure, or disconnection of utility service. Project Take Charge also provides food through a food pantry and operates two food cooperatives to offer permanent food security to selected low-income households.

Project Take Charge is unique because it strives not only to address the immediate crisis but also to provide the knowledge and skills needed to help participants achieve long-term financial stability.

Families receiving financial assistance:

  • Attend a three-part financial management class, which is designed to provide emotional support as well as better money management skills.
  • Participate in discussions on budgeting, coping with financial stress, reducing expenses and debt, and setting realistic financial goals.

In 2009, PTC served a total of 2,088 individuals (up from 1,774 in 2008) and helped prevent homelessness or utility disconnections for 206 households. It also provided food for an additional 429 households (up from 384 in 2008) and case management services to an additional 97 households. Taking into account all of Decatur Cooperative Ministry's programs and services, a total of 2,350 people were helped in 2009. In 2010, PTC served 685 households totaling 1,926 individuals. PTC prevented homelessness or utilities disconnection for 198 households and provided food for 487 households.


DCM's annual budget consists of the combined contributions from member congregations; individuals; government grants; private foundations; The United Way; Federal Campaigns; fundraising events and other income sources.

DCM also greatly values their volunteers contributions. In 2010 volunteers gave 11,445 hours of service, a time commitment with an estimated value of over $140,000. Volunteer hours for professional services such as legal work and computer repair are valued at the volunteer market rate. All other volunteer hours are valued at $12 per hour.

Volunteers support DCM by:

  • Serving meals for Hagar’s House
  • Holding financial management sessions
  • Helping children with homework
  • Assisting in the offices and the shelter
  • Working on the newsletter
  • Helping with fundraising, child care, and building and yard maintenance

In addition to time, DCM supporters offer in-kind and financial support. In 2010 the value of the food, furnishings, and supplies donated to DCM were valued at $152,754. Many organizations, groups, and individuals generously provided items including: furniture and appliances, household items such as linens and toiletries, office equipment and supplies, decorations and other items for events, toys and gifts for clients, and food.

External links[edit]