Our rotational shelter program and warm hospitality is the foundation of the Family Promise model.
Our Emergency Shelter Program called Interfaith Hospitality Network is a community-based program where families experiencing homelessness are able to immediately get off the streets and stay in local churches for up to 2 months while they seek employment and housing. While in the program, our families pay no rent, are provided three meals a day by a team of volunteers as well as transportation to get to shelter congregations and schools for children.
During the day, participants receive individualized case management from our staff at our Family Resource Day Center located in Brookhaven. Families in our program have access to numerous resources including employment counseling, credit counseling, welfare and legal advocacy, and accessing help with child care and housing.
In the evenings, families stay as the guests of local houses of faith, which convert classrooms or other facilities into private spaces for each family. They are supported by an army of volunteers who are trained annually on the causes of homelessness, and on how to work safely and sensitively with program guests.
By using an innovated model where we utilize existing resources - spaces like congregations and volunteers motivated by compassion - we are able to provide emergency shelter services at 1/3 the cost of a traditional shelter. Although we work closely with the faith community, we do not require adherence to a particular religious belief or require participation in any religious service or activities.
And it works.
On average, 88% of the people served in the shelter program secure housing within nine weeks. Because of the depth of services and community support, families stay housed.
HOW IT WORKS
Our Interfaith Hospitality Network and volunteers are the heart of our program. The network of faith-based congregations serve as temporary homes for our families while in the Emergency Shelter Program. Our Day Center now a defunct church convent provides a comfortable respite, where families can take showers, receive case management, and look for housing and jobs. We also maintain a van and qualified drivers for transportation to get families from the host shelters to the Day Center and back. With volunteers giving their time, making meals, and sharing hospitality, family homelessness is addressed without the creation of expensive shelters. Across the country, people have realized that this innovative approach truly makes a difference for families experiencing homelessness as well as the volunteers themselves.
These volunteers are the core of the program. They share food, spend the night, play with children and lend their passion and expertise to help families get back on their feet. They prove that motivated people can solve family homelessness. And, in the process, they truly create “home” – and a community – for families who have no place left to turn.
A COMMUNITY RESPONSE
In every community, these core elements exist. By bringing the community together on the issue of family homelessness, Family Promise addresses a major social problem in a holistic, effective way. Once the community becomes engaged, people understand the root causes of family homelessness and take steps to address them.
A LONG-TERM SOLUTION
Not only does our 86% success rate mean many more families are stably housed, it is also a tremendous cost savings to the community as diversion from far more expensive interventions. Our approach of keeping families together, identifying their strengths, and partnering with the community for solutions means that families are at much lower risk of returning to homelessness.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Family Promise changes lives. We served 49 parents and children in 2019, giving them the ability to realize their true potential. We also change the lives of our 550 volunteers, giving them a meaningful outreach right in their own communities.