Why partner with Family Promise?
Because it makes a direct impact on struggling families’ lives, and a direct impact on member’s lives.
We partner with congregations to provide shelter to homeless families in our program. Host site congregations are the foundation of Family Promise of Hawai’i. Congregations provide guests with meals and overnight accommodations in their church, synagogue, or temple; their members offer the hospitality, the caring, and the compassionate assistance that characterizes Family Promise.
Finding Space for the Guests
There is no perfect space, and the set up can look completely different from congregation to congregation. Each host congregation accommodates up to 4 families (14 individuals maximum) for 1 week every 2 to 3 months. This is an evening program, so families would arrive 5:30PM and leave at 6:30AM. The space must have sleeping accommodations, including access to bathrooms; a cooking/dining area for donated dinners. Religious education classrooms or social halls are often used as sleeping quarters, providing each family with the privacy of their own room. Though more important than the size or style of the space is the spirit in which it is offered. Modest accommodations, generously offered, are what Family Promise is all about.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Family Promise concept is called the “Interfaith Hospitality Network”:
An “Interfaith Hospitality Network” is where 13 or more religious congregations come together to take turns sheltering or “hosting” families in the Family Promise Emergency Shelter program. Typically congregations host families once a quarter for one week. On average there are 3-4 families in the program at one time (never more than 14 individuals).
What facilities do host congregations need to have for guests in the emergency shelter program?
Facilities must include a kitchen, dining area, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations/space. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family, though many times that is not possible, therefore, a hall or other large room(s) can be divided by partitions to provide privacy. It is not required to have showers since we provide them at our day center/shelter.
Our building is in use almost all the time. How will we find the space?
Religious sanctuaries and halls are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for evening activities. For example, four times a year, scheduled AA or the Bible Study Groups may need to move their Tuesday night meeting to another room or location. Our shelter program is strictly an evening program.
What if we have a small congregation, not many members?
Family Promise staff can help connect congregations with other congregations (with no campuses) or groups to help your members with the volunteering.
How do we handle transportation?
Family Promise of Hawaii has a van and van driver, which provide transportation for the guests to and from the Day Center to the host congregations.
Where do families stay during the day if not at work or school?
The Day Center is a safe day shelter where Family Promise provides case management, financial literacy, and housing support to all enrolled families. The day center has a stocked kitchen, showers, laundry facilities, household supplies, computers with internet access, and comfortable spaces for resting.
Isn’t it difficult for families to move week to week?
Moving every week isn’t ideal, but most families say that the positive, 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. Our Program 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 the insurance implications of participating in the shelter network? Does the congregation have to amend its policy?
Family Promise of Hawaii has general liability insurance. Congregations are usually covered by their own property and liability policies because Family Promise is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts. To be certain, each congregation must contact its insurance agent.
How long do families stay in the emergency shelter program?
The average length of stay is 2-3 months. It is deemed okay for the family to stay longer than 3 months if they are making good-faith efforts to find housing. Some families are able to find housing within 30 days but most take a couple of months due to the severe shortage of transitional and low-income housing or available rentals. The waitlists for public housing and Section 8 are 7 – 10 years.
How are families referred to Family Promise?
Families are referred through self-referral, other agencies, churches or temples, or schools. They are interviewed briefly and placed on a waitlist. Families must be homeless and consisting of at least one child under the age of 18 to enter the Emergency Shelter program. When an opening in the program comes up, the first qualified family on the waitlist is called and comes in for an in-depth interview and assessment at the Day Center. If the family qualifies, they are brought into the program.
What determines if a family qualifies?
1. A family must consist of at least one parent and one minor child.
2. They must be drug and alcohol free.
3. They must have no untreated mental illness.
4. They cannot have a violent criminal record.
5. Must be working or willing to work.
6. Must be motivated to find housing.