In 1992, a gap in service was identified in Washtenaw County for children and families experiencing homelessness. While there were shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness, there was too often no place for families with children who were sleeping in their cars, camping, living doubled up or in another situation not meant for habitation. The Interfaith Hospitality Network was created by a group of volunteers as a rotating shelter to address this gap in service. Area religious congregations provided space in their buildings for families to sleep and volunteers to provide dinner and support. Each week, families moved from one hosting congregation to the next. While not perfect, this system successfully sheltered local families and children for ten years.
In 2002, St. Joseph Mercy Health System agreed to lease Alpha House to IHN for $1/year. Now families have a safe place to re-group and focus on securing stable housing. The supporting congregations now rotate through Alpha House to provide daily meals, supplies and other support. IHN has a strong grassroots component and we depend on the support of dedicated volunteers to partner with us in the critical work of providing support to children and families experiencing homelessness.