Interfaith Hospitality Network
Homelessness can seem like an overwhelming problem. Many people wonder what one person or congregation can do to truly make a difference.
The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) - Family Promise's core program - is a way for volunteers and congregations to address the challenge of family homelessness by using existing resources. The volunteers bring hospitality. Their service and in-kind congregational facilities makes it cost efficient. And with intensive case management from trained staff at the Day Center, lives are significantly impacted for the long term.
How "IHN" Works
Each congregation participating in the Interfaith Hospitality Network provides overnight lodging and meals for four families (up to 14 people) for one week at a time. Each congregation takes a turn hosting three or four weeks per year. Network "guests" stay in each congregation from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. daily. Each morning guests drive or ride in the IHN van to the Family Promise Day Center (1850 N. Arsenal Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46218). Children generally then go to school or daycare, while most adults go to work at various locations in and around Indianpolis. The adults who either cannot work or are seeking work meet with a case manager and build skills for lasting financial stability while applying for housing and/or employment.
But the volunteers are the lifeblood of the program. Volunteers set up the rooms and beds on Sunday. They cook and serve a meal each night. They provide bag lunches and easy breakfast foods. They plan activities for children and families, and engage with everyone present. They sleep overnight in a fifth room. They drive the guests in the IHN van to the Day Center each morning, and then drive guests back to the congregation each evening. They wash the sheets at the end of the week, they pack up the beds, and they drop the trailer and van off at the next congregation the following Sunday.
The coordinators are the key to a successful congregation experience. Each congregaiton has one-to-four people who sign-up as the coordinating volunteer - in charge of recruiting the cooks, drivers, and more; reserving the facilities; communicating with Day Center staff; and more. Coordinators are recognized annually at the Family Promise Annual Meeting in late February.
The hosting schedule for the year is created between June and September each year. Congregations are asked for the weeks they cannot host, and Day Center staff piece it together. Currently, IHN has two active rotations. A rotation is where a combination of congregations covers the hosting of four families at a time for all 52 weeks of the year. With two rotations, eight families total are served daily.
Approximately 50 families are served each year in the IHN program. On average, more than 70% of the families we serve will gain long-term housing while in the program, in nine weeks. Not only does this high success rate mean many more families stably housed, it is also a tremendous cost saving to the community as diversion from far more expensive interventions.
Becoming a Supporting or Hosting Congregation
Interested in discussing if and how your congregation could join the Network? Email Mike Chapuran or call 317-261-1562 to set up a meeting or shadowing experience first. Help us fill one rotation hosting 4 families at a time serving about 30 families per year. Congregations are needed to host families in their facilities, but also as teams to support the existing congregations that host by taking a night of the week to plan a meal and activities. See the current list of support and hosting congregations here.
Watch the video produced by Family Promise national below to learn more about our hallmark program...