OUR BEGINNINGS Members of the local religious community who were interested in alleviating homelessness began meeting during the winter of 1996. The organization was incorporated in the spring of 1997, and we hosted our first guests in the summer of 1998.
OUR MISSION Interfaith Hospitality Network of Burlington County (IHNBC) is a non-profit interfaith organization committed to a united outreach by the religious community in Burlington County providing shelter, meals and assistance to homeless families. Our program provides help, hope and a safe haven for our guests while they seek affordable housing.
HOW DO WE CARRY OUT OUR MISSION? The program mobilizes existing community resources; church buildings for overnight lodging, congregations for volunteers and social service agencies for screening and referrals.
Each host congregation furnishes overnight lodging and meals for up to 14 people for one week on a rotating schedule. The religious communities provide a safe, peaceful and welcoming atmosphere for our guests during the evening and overnight.
The Day Center offers a daytime base for personal care and the pursuit of housing possibilities and a job, if necessary.
WHO ADMINISTERS THE PROGRAM? Our Board of Trustees, comprised of faith community leaders of Burlington County, guides the overall program through long-range planning and fundraising activities.
Our Director, a licensed professional social worker, oversees the day-to-day operations of the program, reviewing applicants for our program, training our volunteers and providing assistance, as needed, to our guests and their search for housing.
Volunteer coordinators from each church direct the local church programs weekly. They arrange for meals to be prepared, and for hosts to provide fellowship to our guests.
WHO ARE THE HOMELESS? Today's diverse homeless population includes growing numbers of traditional families, one-parent families, working people, victims of domestic violence and many others.
New Jersey has the highest housing costs in the nation. This adds to the difficulty of low-income working families finding and maintaining housing.
The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade. Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that, in 2010, the number of peopleexperiencing homelessness on a single night increased by 1.1 percent over the previous year, to 649,917. In its 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, HUD reports that the number of homeless families increased 1.2 percent, and the number of homeless persons in families increased 1.6 percent. HUD reports that more than 1.59 million people spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program during its 2010 reporting period, a 2.2 percent increase over the previous year.
When asked to identify the three main causes of homelessness among their households with children, three-fourths cited unemployment, 71 percent cited lack of affordable housing, and 57 percent cited poverty. Cited less frequently were domestic violence by 18 percent , eviction by 14 percent, and low-paying jobs by 14 percent. - U.S. Conference of Mayors 2011 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness
These proportions are likely to be higher in rural ares; research indicates that families, single mothers, and children make up the largest group of people who are homeless in rural areas (Vissing, 1996).
ARE GUESTS SCREENED AND INTERVIEWED? A professional social worker and/or our Network Director interview all guests. Guests sign an agreement, acknowledging their understanding of the Network rules and their responsibility to comply with them while in the program. Persons with severe psychiatric, medical or drug or alcohol abuse problems are not accepted into the program.