What facilities do host congregations need to have for guests?
Facilities must include an eating area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family, but if that isn’t possible, a fellowship hall or other large room can be divided by partitions to provide privacy.
Our building is in use almost all the time. How will we find the space?
Churches, temples and synagogues are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for activities and meetings. For example, four or five times a year, AA or the Bible Study Group may need to move their Tuesday night meetings to another room.
Can families’ belongings be moved in the morning and moved back in the evening to permit the congregation to use the space during the day?
No. The sleeping accommodations need to be dedicated to the families for the entire host week. The beds and the guests’ belongings must not be moved in the morning and put back in the evening. Besides being cumbersome, moving the beds and the guests’ belongings would be difficult for guests. When guests arrive on Sunday, they come with their belongings and perhaps a few of their children’s favorite toys. They want to arrange their space as if it were their home.
How do we handle transportation?
Family Promise of Hawaii has 2 vans, one for each network, which provide transportation for the guests to and from the host congregations.
Where do guest families stay during the day on weekends?
Most families stay at the day center. The day center provides a kitchen, showers, laundry facilities, computers, and a comfortable environment for our families to stay.
Isn’t it difficult for families to move week to week?
Moving every week isn’t ideal, but most families say that the homelike setting and the support of volunteers more than compensate for the moving. While host congregations change every week or two, the day center remains the same, providing continuity and a home base for families as they look for housing and jobs. The day center also provides a permanent address that families can use in their housing and job searches.
Will the children miss school because their families are staying in different congregations every week or two?
No. The Program Manager works with the school system to ensure that all children attend school. The day center is the permanent address of the Network. Children go to the school they have been attending or to the school nearest the day center. Arrangements are made locally with the school system.
In 1987, Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Act, legislation th at requires all states and school districts to provide for the education of homeless youth. Each state has developed a plan to implement the Act. Most of the state plans are flexible and allow children to attend the school they last attended or the school closest to the shelter (day center).
What are the insurance implications of participating in the Network? Does the congregation have to amend its policy?
Family Promise of Hawaii has general liability insurance. Congregations are covered by their own property and liability policies because Family Promise is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts.
How long do families stay in the Network?
The Guest Guidelines call for a maximum stay of 60 days. However, a family’s stay can be extended as long as they are making good-faith efforts to find housing. The average length of stay is 3-4 months. Some families are able to find housing within 30-60 days but most take a few months due to the severe shortage of transitional and low-income housing or available rentals. The waitlists for public housing and Section 8 are 7 – 10 years.
How are families referred to the Network?
Families are referred through self-referral, other agencies, churches or temples, or schools. They are interviewed briefly and placed on a waitlist. Families must be homeless and consisting of at least one child under the age of 18. Preference is given to working families. When an opening in the program comes up, the first qualified family on the waitlist is called and comes in for an in-depth interview at the Day Center. If the family is appropriate, they are brought into the program.
How do we raise the money?
Funds are raised locally from individual donors, private foundations, congregations, state & federal funds and corporations. Religious judicatories often provide ongoing funds. Local foundations provided seed money to start up the organization in 2006.
What are some advantages of the Network program over a more traditional shelter?
An Interfaith Hospitality Network has these advantages:
- A Network can be developed quickly.
- A Network is cost-effective because it utilizes existing community resources.
- A Network program doesn’t institutionalize shelter as a solution to homelessness.
- In Networks, about 80 percent of the guest families find permanent housing, often with volunteers’ help.
- For congregations, the Network is a vital outreach ministry within the walls of the members’ own church, temple or synagogue.
- A Network is a catalyst for other community initiatives. Many active Networks go on to create new programs in areas such as parenting and mentoring, transitional housing, and housing renovation.