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Merger creates new organization to serve homeless families

(Plain Press, June 2011) New Life Community and Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cleveland (IHN) have come together to form Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, the largest organization in Greater Cleveland focused exclusively on helping homeless families transform their lives and achieve long-term stability while helping families remain together. The merger was effective May 1, 2011.

New Life Community and IHN have both provided services to homeless and jobless families in the Greater Cleveland area. For the past two years, the organizations have worked to integrate staff, resources and programming to serve more families with even better outcomes at a lower cost per household served. Executive directors from both organizations will lead Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, with Walter Ginn serving as Executive Director and Sarah Cruise serving as Associate Director. All staff will remain and both boards merged to form the Family Promise of Greater Cleveland board.

Since 1990, New Life Community has helped more than 700 families. IHN has served more than 450 families since its shelter program was formed in 1998.

“By coming together, we’re able to expand our services and serve more families in Cleveland facing a crisis of homelessness,” Ginn said. “We are focused on families remaining together while they stay in our emergency and interim housing. We move families rapidly through our programs based on their individualized needs and offer long-term support after they leave our program. We also teach families self confidence, job skills, and life skills so they can be self sufficient and provide a promising future for themselves and their children.”

Family Promise of Greater Cleveland will provide the following range of services to address families at distinct stages of homelessness: 1).  Crisis Intervention to assess families experiencing a housing crisis with the goal of avoiding homelessness by linking them to community prevention resources; 2) Rapid Exit Emergency Housing in our Family Center by day and in a network of host congregations by night; 3) Interim Housing for families unable to immediately obtain or maintain permanent housing.

Families can reside for up to 16 weeks in Family Promise’s furnished apartments and receive self-sufficiency services to exit as rapidly as possible. Family Stability services are offered during and after a family’s residential stay, coupled with Community-Based services once families are re-housed to support families in maintaining jobs and housing long-term.

Deborah Vesy, president and CEO of the Deaconess Community Foundation, which helped fund the transition planning, said the new organization is well positioned to make an impact on homeless families on day one. “Family Promise of Greater Cleveland will have a relevant voice at the table because of its combined expertise,” she said. “Both organizations were on strong financial footing, but they wanted to come together to expand services. As Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, they’re able to provide higher-quality and more expansive services at a cost savings that allows them to reinvest in programming. That’s refreshing in these economic times.”

Congregational and community support will continue to be a critical delivery method for the programs, Cruise said. “Our more than 80 partner congregations and 2,500 volunteers give 32,000 volunteer hours and $700,000 worth of in-kind support to our programs. They also offer food, shelter, sleeping quarters, mentorship and companionship to our families,” she said. “We consider it an important part of our mission to provide volunteer opportunities for families to serve other families and make a true difference in their communities.”

Family Promise of Greater Cleveland’s administrative office and interim housing program is located on the east side of Cleveland near Shaker Heights at 3470 East 152nd St., Cleveland, with emergency housing located at the Family Center in the Tremont neighborhood at 2592 W. 14th St., Cleveland. For more information about the program and its services call 216-767-4060.

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