The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Denver's mission is to enable an interfaith and community response to homeless families by providing shelter, meals, comprehensive assistance and encouragement toward self-reliance in an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality.
Homelessness in Our Community
Studies report that on any given night there are more than 11,000 people in the greater Denver area that are homeless. The majority are families. Why are people homeless? Most families seeking help from IHN have lost jobs and are unable to afford rent or mortgage.
The cost of housing is a barrier- fair market rent in Denver Metro is $891 for a two-bedroom apartment. To afford a the average two-bedroom apartment a family needs to earn $17.13 an hour. This is over 200% of the minimum wage. (National Housing Coalition-2009)
When families are homeless, all members are severely impacted. Homelessness disrupts every aspect of family life, damaging the physical and emotional health of family members, interfering with children's education and development. "It is clear that the problem of family homelessness is accelerating, but meanwhile service to accommodate the increasing numbers and lagging behind". (National Coalition for the Homeless-2009)
Poverty and the lack of affordable housing are the principle causes of family homelessness. Homeless children are sick four times more often that other children and go hungry at twice the rate of other children. They also have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems of other children.
Some research shows, however, that once children are re-housed, the effect of homelessness tend to dissipate over time. Studies show that there are some improvements in outcome for children that may be attributed to improved societal responses to homelessness and to improvements in family shelters. (National Symposium on Homelessness-2007)
How IHN Works
IHN adopted a national model, now called Family Promise, which was developed in New Jersey in 1988. This model brings diverse communities together to address family homelessness by providing shelter and hospitality in church facilities. IHN began serving homeless families in November of 1997 with ten host congregations and four support congregations. We now have two rotations with 22 host congregations, 42 support congregations, and 2 civic groups. There is a volunteer opportunity for everyone!
Two components are vital to the provision of services to our clients. One is the network of churches that provide shelter and the other in the day site.
Shelter, provided by a variety of congregations/parishes, is staffed by trained volunteers with 24-hour support for IHN's small staff. Host congregations create private or semi-private bedrooms for each family using meeting or education rooms at their church. Some congregations creatively use fellowship halls or gyms by partitioning the space to create rooms. IHN provides roll-away beds which are transported each week to the next church in the network. The volunteers provide meals, evening and overnight support, and transportation to and from the day site each morning and evening using IHN's vans. Support congregations partner with host congregations to provide volunteers, activities, and supplies during the week.
At the day site (staffed seven days a week), we provide case management, referrals, and counseling. The families also conduct housing and job searches. We provide a computer lab with client phones, a play room for the children, a break room, and a quiet room. IHN offers weekly classes in parenting and rotating Life Skills classes in budgeting, job readiness, job retention, nutrition, healthy relationships, and tenant skills.
IHN welcomes additional congregations to join us as either Host or Support congregations. Please contact Kathryn at 303-675-0713
The National Interfaith Hospitality Network is called Family Promise
For more information go to www.familypromise.org