Mission and Vision

The vision of Family Homestead is to assist Homeless Families to overcome the specific crisis of homelessness and function at a level that is optimal for them

Our Mission

75% of the families who complete our program will:

  1. Move to next step housing
  2. Have income adequate to support next-step housing
  3. Effectively address the underlying causes that led to their homelessness as identified in their case plan

Core Values

  • The integrity, dignity, and independence of our client families are best preserved by placing them in discrete, autonomous housing units
  • Social Services and housing are of equal value and importance homeless families
  • The most important determinant of outcome is what the family brings to the situation
  • Our focus is on assisting families to achieve realistic outcomes, not on individual or societal transformation
  • Active participation by the client is necessary and required
  • Carefully respecting and protecting the integrity, agency, confidentiality and privacy of our clients enhances their trust in the case management relationship, and allows them to maintain their dignity

Who We Are

Les Jones

Executive Director

Les was the founding Board President of Family HomeStead in 1978; he has served as the Executive Director since 1991. Les brings 47 years of experience in social services, 39 years of experience in housing very low income people and 36 years of experience social services management and administration.

Les Jones, executive director of Family HomeStead

Paula Ruszel

Associate Executive Director

Paula has been with Family HomeStead since 2000, first serving as a Case Manager, Director of Social Services and named Associate Executive Director in 2010. Paula brings over 25 years of experience in social services, over 20 years of experience in social services management and administration and over 20 years of experience in working with families who are homeless.


Family HomeStead was founded in 1978 as a coalition of social service agencies responding to the destruction of short-term low-cost housing for homeless families resulting from extensive urban renewal. Today we remain the only agency in Denver that exists to provide emergency and transitional housing in individual living units, along with supportive case management, solely to families with children. We began with 10 units and currently have over 70 units in Denver and Lakewood, Colorado. Case managers assist each family as the parents work to take charge of their family’s life, develop a reliable income, and locate permanent affordable housing.

From its inception, Family HomeStead has been innovative and creative in meeting the needs of homeless families. We were the first agency in Metro Denver to offer independent housing to homeless families, the first to develop a transitional housing program, the first to implement a continuum of housing and social services and the first to utilize Section 8 housing for homeless families.

In 2001 we expanded by purchasing 17 units in Lakewood. In 2017 we added an additional 33 units in Denver.

Family Homestead does not seek or accept government grants or funding for program operations. Our independence from Federal regulations enables us to quickly implement effective programs to meet the changing needs of homeless families within our local community. 

Our current executive director, Les Jones, was the founding Board President of the organization in 1978 and has served as Executive Director since 1985. 

The housing part of our programs takes a market approach. Clients often have little understanding of a lease relationship. They often have poor credit, previous evictions, and unresolved debt to prior landlords that are major barriers to securing permanent housing. Case managers assist clients in contracting previous landlords to set up a payment plan that helps them clear their debt and improve their credit rating. They also help clients understand that they must make paying monthly rent a top priority.

Families in both the emergency and transitional programs sign a lease, pay rent (after the first month of emergency housing), and are expected to comply with the terms of their lease. Property staff works continually with clients to enhance their effectiveness as tenants. 

Family HomeStead’s programs are designed to preserve the dynamics of normal family life and to engage the family in their immediate community. With our housing disbursed in several different neighborhoods, client families are less identifiable as homeless than if they were all housed in one location. Whenever possible we direct families to sources of permanent housing rather than to longer-term programs for the homeless. We also connect families with community-based services that will be long-term resources rather than to services available only to the homeless population. Because it is difficult for clients with very limited income to acquire the funds to procure long-term housing, we offer an incentive for clients to complete our program. Clients who do receive a grant payable to their next landlord, which grant pays up to the amount of the first month’s rent.

Board of Directors


Jay Jeff


Jason Buerger


Krystal Kowall


Betty Knecht




Leslie A. Jones


Dick Fullerton

Jenny Jorgensen

Ed Drummond

Jim Murphy

Kathy Nicolls

William Sharrer

Jared Miller