We asked a few former NPIHN guests to talk about their transition from emergency housing to a permanent home. Here’s what they had to say:
It doesn’t seem long ago when I was a product of “the system.” I had been in several shelters that left me feeling lost with no alternatives. I was treated as a number rather than a person in distress. It was rock bottom for me. After entering PIHN I felt security and stability living there. They provided regular self improvement meetings (budgeting, parenting, groups, etc.). I enjoyed them because they gave me an opportunity to grow in areas where I thought I had it all together. I also met people who had the same goal in mind and that was to do God’s will (helping those in need). I was there only a few months before I moved into my own rental apartment and got a job at a local bank. I was still at the PIHN office daily; whether it was to eat a meal, attend a meeting, or use the computer to write papers while I attended college. The staff and volunteers were there for me every step of the way –even during the birth of my children. It was a humbling experience being so needy. I was thankful that this was a shelter not like a shelter.
I now have my college degree, moved up in the bank, I am married with six lovely children and we are new homeowners. The Lord has been so good to us. Through those times that all would consider suffering, it produced perseverance, endurance, character and hope within me.
“It was a relief to leave the shelter system. It felt really good to have my own space. The day I found I was leaving the congregational shelter program was so exciting. I felt overwhelmed by both good and bad feelings. I was a little worried about maintaining. Once you’ve been in shelter, your biggest fear is ending up back in that position again. When I entered PIHN’s transitional housing program, I still felt I had my own independence, but it also felt like I had a big safety net. I had a network backing me if I needed anything.
I have a lot of big goals, but my biggest immediate goal is home ownership. My husband and I would like to purchase our own home and to have security and equity, that’s our biggest dream.
My advice to families in shelter now is to stay focused, and stay on course of the program. It’s set up for your success. Examine your own faults and take the time to get over your own issues. If you follow the basic program, then you’ll be successful.”
I found out on November 16th that I was moving out of PIHN’s emergency housing program. I felt a lot of nervous anticipation. I was definitely excited to be have a home for my family, but I was also anxious to be facing a whole new category of challenges that comes with transitioning into my own home. PIHN prepared me for the transition by supplying me with all the household supplies my family needed very quickly. It took a lot of stress out of moving. I also appreciated the continued emotional support from PIHN staff. Eventually we would like to be entrepreneurs and homeowners, and I am confident that the support my family receives from PIHN will further motivate us to accomplish our goals. Please look at my 6 year old’s drawing when he first walked into our on moving day. He grabbed some crayons and got right to work as the movers were bringing our things into the house:
Former Family & Volunteer:
My husband and I would have been out on the street and living in our car if it had not been for PIHN. I had a job, my husband did not. My salary alone was not enough to keep a roof over our heads and pay the other bills that go along with having a roof over our head. Staying with them allowed me to pay off many bills and save money to have a down payment on getting an apartment. As well as helping my husband get a job.
The shelters were Churches and Temples – a much safer place than the streets. The help and kindness were so comforting that we have made friends with different people from these sacred places. We just would not have made it through without them.
I came to PIHN in September 2010. All I know is when I came here I was totally distraught and didn’t know where I was going to be or what I was going to do. From day one, the people at PIHN welcomed me with open arms and gave me the comfort I needed. At my age and with my education I couldn’t have done it without them. The staff helped me feel safe and secure. They are the most open-hearted people I have ever met.
Hello all my name is Shannon. I have taken the time to write about my experience with Interfaith Hospitality Network. When I was a child our home in Germantown Philadelphia became destroyed by a fire. My mother did all that she could to bring the house back to livable conditions. As one could imagine this task can take decades, with little means to do so, in which this case it did. Once I went to college, I was happy to not have to live under these unbearable living conditions. To my surprise during winter, summer and other breaks students were not allowed to reside on campus. I learned about Interfaith Hospitality through my church. At the time I was to embarrassed to go for help and let the people of Interfaith Hospitality know I did not have access to livable housing conditions during the breaks. After a while I decided to visit the facility to see what the living conditions were there. When I reached the campus where the housing was I immediately felt at home. Everyone welcomed me with open arms especially [Executive Director] Ms. Rachel Falkove. The security was pleasant, the facility was very clean and the other residents were down to earth. I never though that transitional housing could feel like home. As I recall one of my best memories was eating a great home cooked meal prepared by some of the volunteers. I pray that I never need to be in that situation again, but if I was I would return to Interfaith Hospitality. This organization has been a great help in my life when I really needed it the most. I will be ever so mindful to give back and make donations, for I know it is for a genuine cause.