In the past, the options for homeless families were limited. Shelters generally separated people by age, gender or other restrictions and often placed them in a group environment; ultimately splitting up fathers and mothers and older teens. Believing it was important to keep husbands and wives, parents and children together during such a crisis, concerned volunteers, government officials, and religious leaders from all faiths came together to create a solution. The Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Familiesopened its doors in 1992 on the grounds of the former Harrisburg State Hospital.
Today, the Interfaith Shelter is the only program of its kind providing help and creating hope for homeless families in the tri-county area of Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry Counties. The Shelter can serve as many as 17 families at any given time, including 55 men, women, and children ranging in age from newly born to more than 80 years old. Last year, 195 families (221 adults and 339 children) benefitted from the Interfaith Shelter’s program. These individuals were comprised of various ages, cultures, religions and family structures. A variety of challenges contributed to their homelessness; each has their own story and set of circumstances.
While families reside in the shelter, they work hard with their case manager to locate necessary supportive services either through referral to more than 50 community organizations and partners. The Interfaith Shelter program provides the following services to each resident:
- 30-day emergency shelter
- Assistance in finding and securing permanent housing
- Supplying clients’ basic needs of clothing, food and baby supplies
- Referrals to other agencies to address the critical issues of employment, life-skills, mental and physical health, housing and childcare
- Intensive case management services help clients address the issues that perpetuate homelessness and poverty
What is the cost?
Services at the Interfaith Shelter are offered at no charge to the client.