Through an innovative partnership forged during the pandemic, Interfaith Action’s Project Home is housing families in Ramsey County.
Ed. Note - The Foundation occasionally offers this platform for nonprofit leaders to share their thoughts on current events. This is a guest blog post written by Amy Dillahunt, Director of Development & Communication at Interfaith Action. To learn more about Interfaith Action and their work in our community, visit their website.
By Amy Dillahunt, Interfaith Action Director of Development & Communication
When the pandemic hit, Interfaith Action’s Project Home was forced to find new ways to house families experiencing homelessness. The largest shelter in Ramsey County for families with minor children, Interfaith Action quickly recalibrated, taking a major leap that has dramatically improved outcomes for families.
The pandemic made it impossible for Project Home to continue providing emergency shelter at area churches and synagogues, a model that had successfully been in place for 23 years. With more families experiencing homelessness than available shelter beds and a pandemic that made communal living in gymnasiums and social halls unwise, it was time for a bold idea.
Making Room For Partnership
Interfaith Action leaders began looking for a space that would allow for a comfortable safe place for children and their parents/guardians to sleep, learn, work and get back on their feet.
At this same time, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were also facing a major decision: what to do with the Provincial House, a former dormitory-style home of the Sisters that had been underutilized for more than a decade. Having the guest rooms sit empty when so many families needed shelter compelled the Sisters to offer use of the building to Project Home. It was a way for the Sisters to live their mission to love their neighbor without distinction.
In December 2020, with broad community support, Interfaith Action forged a unique public-private-interfaith partnership. The Sisters summed it up best, saying, “There is room at the inn.”
Stabilizing Families Through Housing
On March 15, 2021, Interfaith Action opened Project Home at the Provincial House, more than doubling previous capacity. Today, the site provides shelter, daily meals, tutoring, employment coaching and rapid exit housing case management. Families report that the environment with private bedrooms is very stabilizing and allows them to focus on building family success.
Our recent stats:
- Average stay of 66 days, down from 83 days in 2020
- 23,074 shelter-bed nights, a 63% increase
- 22,488 meals served
- 54% of guests are under the age of 13
- Rapid Exit Case Managers helped 54 families find positive housing and provide 6-month follow up support
- Families participating in the Budget & Savings Plan left shelter with an average of $1,000
This innovative partnership, created in the most trying of times, has proven to be tremendously successful. With the ongoing support of donors and government and foundation partners, Interfaith Action will continue this important work to transform the lives of multiple generations.
Jessica Lee Velasco is a mother, advocate, leader, organizer and activist who uses her platform to engage, encourage and empower her community in Worthington, Minnesota.Watch the video