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LAFAYETTE, Ind.–Children shouldn’t sleep in cars, said Jennifer Layton. She’s the head of Lafayette Transitional Housing, and says she’s seeing more families end up homeless than ever before in her 25 years with the organization. But, homeless people in Lafayette are in luck. The Bezos Day 1 Family Fund leadership award means the organization will have more money to help people.

You may not think of Lafayette as a place where people are homeless. But, it can be tough to make ends meet.

“We are a college town. We have Purdue University in our back yard. That helps increase the rents for some of our lower income folks. When they have a situation that arises, they simply cannot make their rent,” said Layton.

The organization she runs focuses on getting families into a home first and foremost.

“We decided several years ago that we are done managing homelessness and it’s time to end homelessness,” she said. “We want to end that whole mindset of providing temporary or shelters for people for a long term.” 

Once they get people in houses, either through a program where they help with the rent for a few months or put people in housing that they own, Lafayette Transitional can then help with seeing to that family’s stability. But, housing is the priority.

With the grant, Layton says they will now be able to offer some families money for a motel, if their shelters are full. They will also be expanding their existing programs.

“We have families who are on our waiting list for all of our programs, when, if we can actually buy a new facility, where we can offer more housing opportunities, hire more staff, if we can do more financial assistance- that’s really what we’re looking at.”

Layton is stoked about the future of the mission of Lafayette Transitional, but said the name is now only their legal name. They want to get rid of the idea that families and homeless people are stuck in transition, and that when they say they want to end homelessness, they mean it and are doing everything possible to make it happen.

PHOTO: Spencer Platt/Getty Images