How long do families stay in the Network?

The Guest Guidelines call for a maximum stay of 30 days. However, Network directors often extend the stay as long as families are making good-faith efforts to find housing. In some communities, families can find housing within 30 days. In other communities-where there is a severe shortage of low-income housing, and waiting lists for public housing and Section 8 are closed–finding a home can take 60 days or more.

Where do guest families stay during the day on weekends?

In most Networks, families stay at the day center.

How are families referred to the Network?

Two weeks before the Network opens, the Network director meets with potential referring agencies–shelters, public assistance offices, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. The director describes the program and provides printed material on how to make referrals.

When a homeless family seeks shelter through an agency, a social worker conducts a brief interview and may contact the Network director to find out if space is available. If the answer is yes, and if the family seems appropriate for the Network, the agency refers the family to the day center. At the day center, the Network director conducts an in-depth interview before accepting the family into the Network.

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 Network director 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 Act, legislation that 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 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 or synagogue.
  • A Network is a catalyst for other community initiatives. 1VÏany active Networks go on to create new programs in areas such as parenting and mentoring, transitional housing, and housing renovation.