Interfaith Hospitality Network housing programs.

Numerous churches and faith based groups, such as synagogues, partner with Interfaith Hospitality Network in an effort to help the less fortunate and homeless. There are programs such as Emergency Shelter as well as permanent housing and much more. All the services are combined together in an effort to assist clients.

The Essex County charities and IHN take a unique approach to providing year-round emergency housing to families as well as individuals in need. While there is no fixed shelter site run by the agency, what will happen is several local families are accommodated each week at a different local church or synagogues. Each site also offers a private bedroom, hospitality room, and more where guests relax, socialize, do homework, and watch television.

During the day, families are also more than welcome to use the Interfaith Hospitality Network van service to work towards addressing the hardship. They can visit the IHN Family Service and Resource Center in Montclair, where they meet with case managers to create achievable goals and plans for becoming self-sufficient.

This process touches upon assistance with housing and employment searches. Parents, including single moms, can also benefit from day care assistance for their children. There also also opportunities for job training; budget management, credit counseling, and workshops on topics such as parenting and nutrition. The Center also provides access to computers, laundry facilities, phones and showers. Clients can also explore financial aid, ranging from security deposit help to public benefits such as section 8.

Meals are prepared and served by volunteers, including a sack lunch when guests leave for the day. The Interface Hospitality Network Emergency Shelter Program consists of a small staff and many local faith based groups, such as Bloomfield Presbyterian on the Green, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun as well as B'nai Israel, Elmwood West -- Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, Mount Hermon Baptist Church, Saint Philomena's Church, B'nai Keshet and many others.

Other churches that may have shelters in Essex County include Calvary Baptist Church,  Morrow Memorial Methodist, Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion, Union Congregational, Our Lady of Sorrows, and about 20 others.




At the IHN Family Resource Center, all guests accepted into the shelter program may be eligible to receive phone and free Internet access. This will also allow them to take classes, such as GED, and work towards some of the self-sufficiency referenced above.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network Permanent Housing Program, also known as Home for Good, is to help clients and single parents find permanent housing. Other resources are involved in addressing and resolving the underlying issues leading to their homelessness.

Thanks to a strategic partnership and both state and federal government grant funds, select families are placed in IHN-run apartments. At the same time, a case manager works closely with each family as they move forward toward achieving the ultimate goal of independence. The client and case manager will work on Improved Money Management Skills, Knowledge in Wellness and Nutrition Education, and more.

The After-School Program is also run from the Resource Center. This is a free service for children residing in shelters or in permanent housing, such as the apartments. The main goal is to help in reducing the significant negative effects of homelessness on children, while also relieving the parents’ financial burden.

Program services include enrichment activities, academic classes and healthy-living education. Teachers from Montclair High School provide pro bono tutoring to help students increase their proficiency in language arts, social studies, science, math and history.

So while the focus of Interfaith Hospitality Network is on housing, they also want clients to stabilize. For information on the programs or local churches, the address is 46 Park St., Montclair, New Jersey 07042. Call 973-746-1400.




By Jon McNamara

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