Interfaith Hospitality Network of Warren County (IHNWC) opened its doors in October of 1998. During that time, many questioned if Warren County even had an issue with homeless families. During IHNWC's first year of operation, 28 homeless families were taken into the program. Unfortunately, the number of families in need of housing has only increased since 1998.
With humble beginnings on Lebanon's Cherry Street, IHNWC has transformed substantially. Now located at 203 E. Warren Street, IHNWC not only offers non-emergency shelter services, but also provides Homeless Prevention & Rapid-Rehousing, Furniture Assistance, and numerous programs intended to help local families.
In addition to these programs, IHNWC works to find solutions for community members undergoing hardship. For example, a homeless individual may enter the office with nowhere to go. IHNWC will assist in finding a roof to put over this individual's head for the night. Or, an individual in an abusive relationship may contact the office needing shelter. IHNWC will locate the appropriate services in Warren County, and advise the individual of the best action to take. These instances are part of our referral process. As of December 31, 2019, IHNWC staff successfully handled a total of 2502 individuals, 14064 referrals and a total of 866 families, to include 1522 children (under 18) have been assisted since our inception.
Refer to the 2019 Community Impact Report here for 2019 statistics.
HOW IT WORKS
IHNWC is able to function as a family shelter as a result from a dedicated network of volunteers, who serve at host churches. Each evening, IHNWC houseguests are transported to a local church. These churches rotate hosting responsibilities on a weekly basis. Once IHNWC houseguests arrive at the host church, they say Grace, and enjoy a warm meal prepared by church volunteers.
The houseguests that do not work third shift will retire to their rooms each evening, where they will sleep as a family. Adults can stay up until 11 PM, teens 10 PM, and children must be put to bed at 8:30 PM. Those who do work third shift will have to catch up on sleep the following day at the IHNWC Day Center. Early the next morning, the houseguests prepare breakfast, and are back on the IHNWC bus to return to the Day Center.
Once at the Day Center, it's all about business. Houseguests get to work making appointments, finding employment (a requirement to stay longer than two weeks), meeting their case manager,
handling legal matters, and fulfilling their requirements needed for housing.
No day at IHNWC is an easy day; houseguests always have something to do
in order to prepare for their departure from the program. Those who are in
the IHNWC program also spend one hour of each week performing community
service, which is something that will come in useful later.
Once a family is ready to depart from IHNWC, they are entitled to shop in
the Heaven & Hearth furniture ministry in order to furnish their new home.