Interfaith Hospitality Network

Interfaith Hospitality Network is a ministry coordinated through the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. It provides shelter, meals and assistance for homeless families and helps to alleviate homelessness by increasing the number of people from the religious community who are actively involved in providing support and advocacy.

Since February 1993, the program has housed more than 800 people (80 percent from the local area). Upon leaving our care, approximately 85 percent of the families in the network move into a home of their own.

East Union serves as one of nine host congregations. We provide overnight lodging and meals for up to three families (as many as 14 people) for one week every two on a rotating schedule. About 30 East Union members pitch in during a host week to cook meals, host our families and stay overnight.

IHN guest families utilize the AVAC’s Day Center in Natrona Heights from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, where the IHN director, a professional social worker, provides case management services. There, guests pursue employment, tend to pre-school children, shower, and do laundry. The day center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school.

An IHN van transports guests to and from the day center. The van also carries bedding and luggage to
the next host congregation.

THE PROBLEM OF HOMELESSNESS IN OUR TIME

Today’s homeless population is very diverse and goes beyond the stereotypes of bag ladies and skid row derelicts. The US Census Bureau reports that over 12% of the U. S. population now lives in poverty. That’s more than 1 in every 9 people and 1 in 6 children.

Millions of people whose income is above the official poverty line also cannot afford basic necessities. They do not have things that many American families take for granted and regularly have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.

Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population- 40% of the urban homeless population and 50% in rural areas.

Homelessness is more than just houselessness, but also the profound loss of family, friends and the support systems that connect a person to a stable life