When PFFC began in 2008, its three founding members lacked housing. Over the years, each of these individuals, supporting one another and with outside assistance, have found employment and housing. As PFFC membership grew, new members without housing were able to find housing as well as employment. Critical in this process has been the role of PFFC peers who have already found employment and housing in mentoring new members.

Peer mentoring remains a critical part of PFFC’s mission. In the words of Robert Warren, PFFC’s Director:

“In PFFC, most of our members were homeless at one time; through group participation and mentoring the majority are no longer homeless. As peer members we want to be able to help other members of the PFFC through the processes that we have been through ourselves. We want to encourage individuals experiencing housing instability to be their own best advocates. We have members who are in a survival mode. At a minimum we need to be a listening board for these individuals; trying to help them through some of their stressful days and nights.”

A key principle of peer mentoring is encouraging individuals to get involved in their own recovery. In addition to mentoring members PFFC, PFFC carries it commitment to mentoring members in the community outside of PFFC who lack stable housing and jobs.

Members of PFFC, for example, have:


Helped the Department of Human Services (DHS) start a day center for individuals lacking housing. PFFC members were hired by DHS to mentor individuals that come to the center. They also taught classes around access to housing, processing what it means to be homeless, and how to get out of homelessness.

Visited different shelters to do listening sessions. A listening session consists of hearing what residents are saying and trying to facilitate processes that allow staff and residents mprove living arrangements in the shelterse.

Have gone out to inform people of changes in rules in the shelter system so that the system may better service their needs and they can access the services they need.

PFFC has also invited professionals from outside to serve as mentors and advisors in order to help its members acquire new knowledge and skills as well as shepherd us through important processes. PFFC’s Downtown Washington DC Public Restroom Committee has a mentor and advisor who has been collaborating with the Committee for a year and a half. For nearly a year an accountant volunteered his services to assist PFFC to establish its accounting system. Since it’s inception members of Miriam’s Kitchen have mentored PFFC as an organization as well as providing mentoring assistance to individual members. The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), the Coalition for Non Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless have also played important mentoring roles.