Warm hospitality provided by the community is the foundation of the Family Promise model. We ensure every family experiencing homelessness remains intact as a family unit with access to shelter, case management, and the resources necessary to secure permanent housing.
How We Began
Started in September of 2007, our Emergency Shelter Program began as the Interfaith Hospitality Network implementing the rotational model of providing shelter for families facing homelessness.
IHN Delco was a community-based program where families experiencing homelessness were 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 paid no rent, were provided three meals a day by a team of volunteers as well as transportation to get to shelter congregations and schools for children.
In the evenings, families stayed as the guests of local houses of faith, which convert classrooms or other facilities into private spaces for each family. They were supported by an army of volunteers who were trained annually on the causes of homelessness, and on how to work safely and sensitively with program guests.
By using this innovated model where we utilized existing resources - spaces like congregations and volunteers motivated by compassion - we were able to provide emergency shelter services at 1/3 the cost of a traditional shelter.
On average, 89% of the people served in our IHN program secured housing within nine weeks because of the depth of services and community support, families stay housed.
Family Hope Center Today
In 2020 with the disruption of the Coronavirus Pandemic, our former Interfaith Hospitality Network was forced to shut down and our Family Resource Day Center instantly became a static 24 by 7 shelter. Since then we have been working to create a new program taking our unique community based hospitality oriented model and merging it with a static shelter site.
During the day, participants still receive individualized case management from our staff at our Family Resource Day Center located in Brookhaven. Similarly in this new model, families in our program have access to numerous resources including employment counseling, credit counseling, welfare and legal advocacy, and help securing child care and housing.
HOW IT WORKS
Fortunately, our Family Hope Center is a defunct convent which easily transitioned into a fulltime shelter as it already had the space and ability to provide a comfortable respite for community living up to 20 individuals. After a 2 year investment in many improvements to our facility, our families now have 6 private bedrooms, large bathroom facilities, laundry room, kitchen and pantry, dining room, family common room, and library. We are currently working with a local business and former IHN congregation to even provide a technology center where our parents can search for resources online, children can do homework and our support staff and community leaders can conduct educational seminars.
Volunteers ARE the Heart of our Program
We still seek our former Interfaith Hospitality Network volunteers to be the heart of our program. With volunteers giving their time, sharing hospitality and financial support, family homelessness can be addressed in a cost effective way, keeping families together in a warm, home-like environment. Across the country, people have realized that this innovative approach truly makes a difference for families experiencing homelessness as well as the volunteers themselves.
Volunteers are essential for a successful shelter. They give of their time, donations, 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
By bringing the community together on the issue of family homelessness, Family Hope 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 89% 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
Due to long-term effects of the Coronavirus epidemic and an ever changing economic and social landscape, St. Joseph's Family Hope Center must address increasing challenges to be successful. The shortage in affordable housing and increases in monthly rent has double the time our families need to stay with us. What used to be a maximum turnaround time of 90 days from when a family entered our doors to placement in permanent housing has now increased to an average of 114 days.
We served 16 families in 2022 and so far 10 in 2023, giving them the ability to realize their true potential. We also change the lives of our volunteers, giving them a meaningful outreach right in their own community.