The battle against homelessness began...
IHN of Greater Worcester first opened its doors in November 1997 as the Greater Worcester Interfaith Hospitality Network. The YMCA of Greater Worcester was the fiscal agent for the program. They provided space for the day center and the staff for the program and IHN guests used their facilities for showering. All Saints Church on Irving St. was the first congregation to host the IHN guests.
IHN remained with the YMCA as fiscal agent until 2002. It was around this time that the name was changed to The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Worcester.
In 2002 IHN of Greater Worcester was taken under the wing of a new fiscal agent, Friendly House Inc. IHN relocated its day center and administrative offices to Wesley United Methodist Church on Main Street, Worcester. For the next 9 years, over 34 greater Worcester congregations hosted families overnight at their respective sites for 1 to 2 weeks at a time throughout those years.
Around 2009, due to fire code regulations, the belief that a static site would be more beneficial to families, and in an effort to increase service capacity due to the growing number of families finding themselves homeless, IHN of Greater Worcester, along with its fiscal agent Friendly House, started the lengthy process of finding a permanent location.
In 2011, 91 June Street proved to be a viable location as a static site where families could find temporary shelter while transitioning to permanent housing. During 2011 and 2012, a capital campaign was launched to secure funds for the down payment and other associated costs for purchasing 91 June Street. Also during this period, supporters of IHN volunteered countless hours in renovating and furnishing June Street in anticipation of occupancy.
Finally in November of 2012, IHN of Greater Worcester and its families moved in. This property has allowed IHN to increase the number of families served from 4 to 6 and increase overall capacity from 14 to as many as 20. Equally important the program is totally self-contained at 91 June St. There is no longer any need for a day center or separate office space.
IHN’s decision to have a static site has proven both beneficial and challenging at the same time. Beneficial for allowing guest families to have a one location shelter versus packing and moving each week to different host sites; allows more time to work on finding permanent housing and/or employment opportunities; access to public transportation; houses the shelter, daycare center and administrative staff under one roof for better interface between guests, volunteers and staff; allows congregations to remain involved in this important mission. Challenging in that this is a mortgaged-owned property that comes with all the upkeep of happy home ownership.